Milwaukee Brewers Top 10 Prospects
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Moderator: Tom Haudricourt will begin taking your questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  tom from san francisco, ca asks:
Do you see Corey Hart staying at third base, or are the Brewers going to trade him?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Tom, I don't think Corey Hart's future in the big leagues is at third base. I think it'll be in the outfield, or maybe at first base, depending on what happens with Prince Fielder. Corey may surprise me and get better defensively, but I'm not sure he'll ever be big-league caliber at third.

 Q:  Brewfan from Southern California asks:
The Brewers thought enough of Chris Saenz to put him on the 40-man roster...is he among the top 30, or just another arm?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: I probably should have included Saenz in my newest top 30. They really like his arm, and he pitched under tough circumstances at High Desert. Next year could be huge for him.

 Q:  Brewfan from So Cal asks:
Tony Gwynn, Jr., has been compared to his father, but though everyone loves his defense, some seem to feel his bat looks more like that of Chris Gwynn. Who is a fair comparison outside the Gwynn family?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Tony does not appear to have the offensive talents of his dad, to this point. He's a superior defensive player, which probably means he'll be a fourth outfielder in the majors. But who knows? He held his own in Class A this year. I haven't seen enough of him to pick a player to compare him to just yet. I do think he has potential, though. And, like his dad, he's a great guy.

 Q:  Brewfan from So Cal asks:
Since Jack Z took over the drafting, Brewers faithful have become accustomed to plum prospects coming after the first five rounds: Corey Hart, Tom Wilhelmsen, Dennis Sarfate, Steve Moss. Who's in that category from this past year? Tommy Hawk?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Hawk is definitely a player to watch. He has a really nice arm and had a nice pro debut. RHP Robby Wooley, the sixth pick, is another player to watch. And LYP Greg Kloosterman, at No. 9, showed a killer curveball in his pro debut and could move fast.

 Q:  Mike from Milwaukee asks:
Is Lyle Overbay capable of playing in the outfield? If not is he just a stopgap until Prince Fielder is ready? Can you also put a timetable on when some of the top 10 prospects will make it to Milwaukee? Thanks.
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Lyle Overbay indeed is a stopgap until Fielder arrives -- probably after the 2005 season. He'll have to prove he should be kept around in the meantime. Shortstop J.J. Hardy will be given a shot at the starting job next spring, with Craig Counsell as insurance. And Rickie Weeks should come very fast, perhaps even before the 2004 season is complete. The pitchers -- Manny Parra, Mike Jones (if health), Ben Hendrickson -- probably won't show up until 2005.

 Q:  Brewfan from So Cal asks:
The pitching depth seems to have taken a hit this year with the likes of Ben Diggins, Mike Jones, Tom Wilhelmsen, and Ben Hendrickson all missing time to injuries large and small. Are the Brewers even average in minor league pitching? Is there a potential #1 or #2 starter down there, or just a lot of 3 thru 5 guys?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Hendrickson made a nice recovery from his elbow problems in the Arizona Fall League and could be a top of the rotation guy. If Jones stays well, he, too, could be a top of the rotation pitcher. Wilhelmsen showed a lot during his brief time in Beloit and also is highly regarded. Diggins has the long road back from Tommy John surgery, so there's no telling where he'll end up. Manny Parra also could be a No. 2 or 3 pitcher. So yes, there are some legit arms in the system, if they can stay healthy.

 Q:  Brewfan from So Cal asks:
As I remember it, the Brewers took some heat for drafting David Krynzel over Joe Borchard who went to the White Sox with the very next pick. Revisiting that choice, even leaving off the extra $3M, did the Brewers get the right guy? (Let's assume that Stokes, Nady, or Sizemore were out of the question.)
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Krynzel looked great his first couple of years but all of a sudden developed bad habits at the plate this year and his average fell off. But he remains a top-flight defensive player and has the speed to be a decent hitter, if he bunts, slaps the ball around, etc. A red flag did go up this year but a lot of scouts really like the guy.

 Q:  Bob Fitz from Tarpon Springs, FL asks:
I know Weeks was great in college and looked fantastic last year, but how can you justify putting him ahead of Prince Fielder. What part of his hitting makes him a better prospect than Fielder? Fielder has no holes in his swing from what I understand. He's also younger than Weeks, much more powerful, and showed one of the best plater disciplines in the minors since turning pro. It's not like Weeks' defense puts him over the top. Is Weeks speed so much of an asset that it places him above Fielder as an overall prospect?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: One of the many factors involved in picking the top prospects is how fast they should get to the majors and make an impact. Weeks is more advanced, coming out of college, and thus rated just ahead of Fielder. But Fielder easily could have been a No. 1. In fact, we debated Weeks, Fielder and Hardy as possible No. 1s before deciding on Weeks. That's a good sign for the Brewers, for sure. Fielder's defense makes me a bit nervous and he'll have to watch his conditioning. There's no DH in the NL so he'll have to prove he can play every day in the field. His offense speaks for itself.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Is there any doubt that the Brewers will be looking to add a college pitcher with their first round pick next June?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Geez, Patrick, I can't tell you at this point. Scouting director Jack Zduriencik likes high school players and picked three in a row before this year, when Rickie Weeks was a no-brainer. The Brewers have drafted more for talent instead of need under Zduriencik. If there's at top-flight college pitcher on the board when they pick, maybe they'll take him. But they need power-hitting outfielders in the system, also.

 Q:  George from Vancouver, Canada asks:
Does Ben Sheet still have what it takes to be a No.1 starter?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: That's a tough question. Sheets was rushed to the big leagues and has pitched for some very bad teams with the Brewers. That said, he also has given up too many homers, has not advanced with a third pitch and has endured nagging back problems that hurt his effectiveness. The best way to put it is this: if he played for a contending team, he probably wouldn't be the No. 1 starter.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Is Josh Murray still a prospect, or was he a mistake? Does he still project well at SS or might he have to move to another position?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers really like Murray's tools. He didn't help that he missed most of the 2003 season with a bad groin injury, but there has been no talk of a position switch at this point. The Brewers merely want him to stay healthy and on the field, and they'll make determinations after that.

 Q:  Brian from Atlanta asks:
Can we expect to see any improvement out of Krynzel's batting approach in the near future? His plate judgement in particular.
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: One would think Krynzel would see the need for adjustments after his prolonged slump this year. He was getting jammed inside on fastballs too often. And he does need to bunt more and walk more. How he responds to his adversity this year will be a key to his advancement.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
What are the biggest needsweaknesses in the Brewers' system?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Outfielders and catchers. The Brewers really haven't advanced a legitimate outfield prospect to the majors since Geoff Jenkins. They addressed their catching shortage by taking Palmisano and Opdyke in the first five rounds in June. They can always use more pitching, but outfielders and catchers are a priority now.

 Q:  Uncle Buck from Colorado asks:
Last year there was a glut of prospects in Huntsville and Beloit, leaving the high A affliate in High Desert with the worst record in minor league baseball. IN your opinion is High Desert going to get skipped by most of the prospects again this year giving Huntsville a stacked team and leaving High Desert with another bad team
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: I would say there's a good chance of that. The Cal League is so hitter friendly and harmful to pitchers that it might be best to push the top prospects by there. That's been the trend in recent years, anyway. It really depends how well a player handles Beloit and if there's any reason to play another year of Class A ball. The Brewers, understandably, have tried to push their prospects whenever possible.

 Q:  Mike from Orrville, OH asks:
Hi Tom! Thanks for the chat. I have two questions for you. 1. If you were to compare Lou Palmisano to a major league catcher, who would it be? I know it is early for comparisons, but I was curious. 2. Do you see Rickie Weeks as a hall of famer, few time all-star, or giant bust?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: I've heard Palmisano compared to Mike Piazza athletically and offensively, but with better potential defensively. He's a leader type, like Piazza. As for Weeks, it's still very early in his career, obviously, but there's very little not to like. I've heard comparisons to a young Joe Morgan. That's pretty good, don't you think?

 Q:  Michael from Madison asks:
How good of a prospect is Steve Moss and what can we expect from him in 2004?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers like Moss's athletic ability -- his speed, defense, arm, etc. He has to stay healthy, which he couldn't do in 2003 (shoulder). The center field types are starting to stack up in the system, so he needs to make a move next year.

 Q:  Bill Mitchell from Tempe, AZ asks:
What's the status of Nick Neugebauer's rehab? I noticed that he was not on the BA projected 2007 lineup for the Brewers. Is there concern that he's damaged beyond repair. Also, any ideas on the player to be named later in the Sexson deal? Thanks.
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Neugebauer wasn't listed in any projected lineups because he has to stay healthy for a while and prove he can be a force. He appears to be past his injuries and is on a throwing program and doing OK at present. If he's able to get back on the mound -- he needs a full year in the minors at this point -- and stay healthy, he could be a real sleeper for the Brewers, considering he's been off the radar screen for awhile. As for the the player to be named in the Sexson deal, he's not on the 40-man roster and therefore subject to the Rule 5 draft. That's why he hasn't been named yet.

 Q:  dave from california asks:
When will J.J. Hardy arrive? does he have a shot to break camp with the team? What is his upside?
 A: 

Moderator: Hardy will get a shot to win the shortstop job in the spring. The Brewers would like him to be able to play 3-4 times a week at least, with Counsell and B. Hall as backups. If Hardy doesn't show he's ready for that in the spring, he'll go to Indy. As for his upside, the Brewers believe he's special, mainly because of his strong mental makeup and tools.

 Q:  Jeff from Los Altos, CA asks:
When it is all said and done, how much power will Rickie Weeks have? Can he put up 20-30 HR's per year a few years from now when he has established himself?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: I don't envision as a big power hitter, but you never know. His real skill is putting the ball in play and hitting for an average. If he could hit 12-15 homers a year, the Brewers would be quite happy. On-base percentage is this guy's deal. He's always on base.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Do you think that the best prospects from last year's Beloit team (Fielder, Weeks, Gwynn, Parra, Bausher, Sarfate) will all get bumped up to Huntsville to be part of the 2nd wave Doug Melvin frequently talks about? Will there be anything left for High Desert?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: As I mentioned earlier, look for most of these guys to move up to Class AA. The Brewers want to keep moving their top prospects.

 Q:  Jim from Columbia, MO asks:
How can you have any credibility on these choices when you are a beat writer for the team?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: What kind of question is that? You're questioning my credibility? I've covered the Brewers for all but two years since 1985. Who knows their system better than me? I talk with the BA guys all the time to make sure we're on the same page. Jim Callis and I talked extensively about how to rank the top prospects this year, who should be No. 1, etc. I have written for BA for many, many years and consider myself a pretty good authority on their farm system. I think the editors at BA agree or they wouldn't ask me to do the prospect lists. If you don't think I can be a harsh critic or discerning writer, just ask the Brewers. Sorry you have such a low opinion of beat writers. And besides, I'm just as much a national writer as a beat writer, sharing duties with Drew Olson. If you know somebody in the baseball writing profession who knows the Brewers and their system better than Drew and myself, I'd like to know who it is.

 Q:  Gerry from Houston, TX asks:
How long until you trade me Prince Fielder?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Prince ain't going anywhere anytime soon, I can assure you.

 Q:  mark h from eau claire asks:
tom, are the heights of hart at 3rd and fielder at 1st part of the problem with their defense. plus the brewers have a lot of solid centerfielders and middle infielders with no pop, do any them at least project gap power.
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Hart is indeed tall for a third baseman, and it would be better if Prince was a bit taller, but what are you going to do? He has to play first base. Hart, on the other hand, could move to the outfield if necessary. Weeks certainly has gap power, as does Hardy. Krynzel has surprising pop at times, too. None of them are major power threats but they aren't exactly punch hitters.

 Q:  Tony from San Antonio asks:
Isn't JJ Hardy just Adam Everett with weaker defense?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers think Hardy is going to be a fine shortstop. He has good range and a great arm. He just needs to keep playing. He's only 21.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
What position will Corey Hart play at the big league level, and if he's not the 3B of the future, who is, if anyone?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: If it's not Hart, it's difficult to say. The Brewers aren't exactly loaded with third basemen. They'd love Wes Helms to stay there a few years if Hart doesn't play third in the majors.

 Q:  Greg from Chicago asks:
Are the Brewers likely to keep Junior Spivey and if so, where is he likely to play this year?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: It would not surprise me if the Brewers moved Spivey to another team in search for an outfielder before spring training. Otherwise, he and Keith Ginter will battle for the job at second.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
what is the update on mike jones elbow injury?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: So far, so good. But he has to get on the mound and prove he's OK for the long haul. I'm sure the Brewers remain nervous about that situation. If he has to have Tommy John surgery, it would be a killer.

 Q:  George from Bronx, NY asks:
I hope the Brewers bring up the young kids early so if they develop I can sign them for my team. Wouldn't they be smarter to keep them in the minor leagues as long as possible so they can enjoy more of their better years?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: When you've had 11 consecutive losing seasons and you have one of the lowest payrolls in the majors, you have to get your prospects to the majors ASAP. Believe me, that's the Brewers' only hope.

 Q:  Rick from Madison, WI asks:
Tom, who were some of the prospects who just missed making the list? Were Wilhelmsen, Sarfate, Gwynn Jr and Martinez close?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Rick, Indeed, all of those players were close. Pitchers Dana Eveland and Jeff Housman weren't far off the pace, either. You have a good grasp of their top prospects.

 Q:  Shad from FSU asks:
What are your projections this year for Corey Hart? Any chance of seeing some time with the Brewers? Future platoon, starter, All Star, or perennial all star?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Shad, check out the earlier Hart questions. His position will determine how much he'll contribute in the majors.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
This will probably be the most popular question, but where would Jorge de la Rosa & Chris Capuano fall on the list?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: De La Rosa would be high, very high. As for Capuano, Tommy John surgery set him back. I'm sure he'd be in the top 20 somewhere, though.

 Q:  Johnny from california asks:
where is tony gwynn jr going to start the year
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Not sure at this point. He might be one of the few to go to High Desert to continue to get his feet wet. But the Brewers would like to keep that '03 Beloit bunch together if possible.

 Q:  Greg from Chicago asks:
If by chance J.J. Hardy is the Brewers' opening day shortstop next year, what level of performance seems likely?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: As with all young rookies, Hardy probably would be erratic. That's why the Brewers will make sure he's ready. The infield depth that came out of the Sexson trade will avoid rushing Hardy if he's not ready next spring.

 Q:  Jason Brown from Rome, GA asks:
How do you compare Rickie Weeks to other minor league future stars like B.J. Upton and Hanley Ramirez?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Unless a whole lot of folks have missed the boat, Weeks ranks at or near the top of any prospect list at present. Let's see if he lives up to that billing.

 Q:  Jeff from Los Altos, CA asks:
Will Rickie Weeks be able to stay put at 2nd base or will he eventually have to be moved to CF?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: How many second baseman have his kind of offensive potential? It's the same debate the Yankees are having with Alfonso Soriano. You'll hear opinion both ways. The Brewers will give Weeks every chance to play second base.

 Q:  Alex from The Bullpen asks:
I saw Manny Parra pitch last year in the MWL and I was not impressed. Can you tell me what I am missing?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Maybe you caught Manny on a bad night. Everyone in the league ranked him one of the top prospects. Look at his numbers -- 24 walks and 117 strikeouts in 139 innings. Do you know how difficult it is to find that kind of walk-strikeout ratio? Believe me, Parra is legit. He's a big lefty, which doesn't hurt.

 Q:  richard from arkansas asks:
do you see jason belcher fitting in the brewer plans ?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Jason was considered special when he was a catcher with his offensive potential. He's not a catcher anymore, which makes him less special. Still has a good bat, though.

 Q:  Fred from Washington, DC asks:
Tom, I am interested in what kind of potential you see Manny Parra having. The Brewers have really nice hitting prospects, but I'm not sure if I'm sold on their pitching. Where do you think they rate relative to other clubs in the pitching prospect department?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers have improved in the pitching department. We have Parra, Jones and Hendrickson in the top 10, and others such as Martinez, Sarfate, Eveland and Housman just missed. If they stay healthy, this is a good crop of pitchers.

 Q:  Lou from King of Prussia asks:
Are the Brewers concerned with Brad Nelson's power going AWOL. I know he was overcoming a hand injury, but it wasn't all that long ago that he was being touted with 40 HR potential. Is he a Mighty Casey or a Shawn Casey?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: I've been waiting for a Brad Nelson question. The hammate bone injury is a tough one for hitters, because it saps them of their power. It generally takes a year to recover, so it's no big shock that Nelson is still struggling. He does need to get in better shape, however, make adjustments and get back to his smooth, power stroke. Let's see how he rebounds next year.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester N.Y. asks:
Do you see Palmisano as a major league stud? His numbers this year were outstanding. Shouldn't he have been rated higher than # 10?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers really like Palmisano, on and off the field. He was MVP of the Pioneer League despite missing the last 3-4 weeks with a broken ankle, which tells you something. But ranking him higher than 10th would be tough, considering he's just getting started. All nine guys ahead of him have a better pedigree at this point. But Palmisano plays the right position in the Brewers' system to move fast. Sorry, folks, but I have to go. Sorry I couldn't answer every single question, but I think we've covered a lot of topics. Maybe we can do this again sometime. Take care.

Moderator: Thanks Tom for taking the time to discuss the Brewers. We'll be talking Pirates on Thursday.