August 2009

Confirmed: Draft picks Davis, Hall, Gennett all inked

The Brewers dug deep into their pockets to reach deals with their top three remaining unsigned Draft picks ahead of Monday’s 11 p.m. CT deadline, shelling out more than $2 million for supplemental first-round pick Kentrail Davis, fourth-rounder Brooks Hall and 16th-rounder Scooter Gennett.

With those players in the fold, the Brewers agreed to terms with each of their first 23 selections ahead of Monday’s deadline to sign selections from the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. 

“[Management] wanted us to take the best players available, and we were happy to hear that,” director of amateur scouting Bruce Seid said. “There’s a lot of physicality, a lot of athleticism in our group. We feel like we signed everybody we wanted to sign.” 

Davis, Hall and Gennett will all report to the team’s year-round facility in Phoenix, but they will not be assigned to an affiliate until 2010. The idea, Seid said, is to get the players back in baseball shape after their summer break before assignments in the fall instructional league. 

Davis, a University of Tennessee outfielder who had two years of eligibility remaining, reportedly got a $1.2 million bonus, about 42 percent above Major League Baseball’s recommended bonus for the Draft’s 39th overall pick and slightly more than the Brewers paid for their first-rounder, right-hander Eric Arnett, two months ago. Arnett received $1.197 million. 

“We looked at both as first-round-type guys,” Seid said. “Kentrail had options. He was sophomore-eligible in the SEC, and we knew it would take first-round money. The talent was too good to pass up.” 

Hall, meanwhile, a prep right-hander who was committed to the University of South Carolina, signed for $700,000. That’s about 3 1/2 times the “slot” figure recommended by MLB for the 136th pick. 

Gennett was the 496th overall pick. His bonus figure was not immediately available.

Davis was Milwaukee’s second of 53 Draft picks and the first of two supplemental first-round selections. He burst onto the scene at Tennessee in 2008, batting .330 with 13 home runs, 44 RBIs and a .435 on-base percentage, and followed in 2009 by hitting .308 with nine homers and 30 RBIs. 
 
Davis is eight inches shorter than the 6-foot-5 Hall, a power right-hander. He threw a perfect game this season for T.L. Hanna High School in Anderson, S.C., in which he struck out 12 batters on 76 pitches and reportedly didn’t throw a pitch below 90 mph. Hall also sports a quality slider. 

The Brewers’ deals with Davis, 20, and Hall, 18, were done earlier in the day, but 18-year-old Gennett, a left-handed hitter from Sarasota, Fla., went down to the wire. The team didn’t make its announcement until the eighth inning of the Brewers’ 9-5 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park on Monday, about two hours before the deadline. 

“We’ve known the kid for a couple of years and really like him,” Seid said of Gennett, who played on a showcase team run by Brewers East Coast crosschecker Doug Reynolds. “He’s a Mike Fontenot-type guy, a left-handed hitter who can play up the middle on the infield and who loves baseball. He plays it with a passion.” 

In all, the Brewers signed 32 of their 53 Draft selections. The highest unsigned pick was 20th-rounder Brian Vigo-Suarez, a prep shortstop from Texas.
       

Draft reports: Davis deal done; Hall, too

The Brewers have reached deals with their top two remaining unsigned Draft picks, Baseball America reported on its blog Monday afternoon.

According to the posts, Milwaukee gave supplemental first-round pick Kentrail Davis a $1.2 million bonus and fourth-rounder Brooks Hall $700,000. Davis was a University of Tennessee outfielder and still had two years of eligibility remaining, and Hall was a prep right-hander who was committed to go to the University of South Carolina.

Davis received nearly $100,000 more than Milwaukee’s first-round pick, Indiana University right-hander Eric Arnett, who was selected 26th overall, and 42 percent over Major League baseball’s “slot” recommendation of $844,200 for the 39th pick. Hall’s bonus, meanwhile, was more than 3 1/2 times better than MLB’s recommendation  of $198,000 for the 136th pick. 

The 6-foot-5 Hall threw a perfect game this season for T.L. Hanna High School in Anderson, S.C. in which he struck out 12 batters on 76 pitches and reportedly didn’t throw a pitch below 90 mph. He also sports a quality slider. 

The Brewers are also very high on prep second baseman Scooter Gennett, their 16th round pick and Milwaukee’s only other selection in the first 20 round who remains unsigned. The deadline for deals with 2009 Draft picks is 11 p.m. CT today.

Brewers, Tennessee's Davis still talking

[UPDATE at 3:30 p.m. CT -- It doesn't look like the Brewers and Davis will have anything to announce until Monday, the deadline for teams to sign 2009 Draft picks. So the following is an update to my post from this morning.]

University of Tennessee outfielder Kentrail Davis, the Brewers’ highest remaining unsigned Draft pick, visited Miller Park on Sunday but did not leave with a signed contract.

Davis, the 39th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft who is advised by Scott Boras’ agency, and the Brewers have until 11 p.m. CT on Monday to finalize an agreement. If they cannot, Davis would return to Tennessee for his junior season.

“I’ll say this: There’s no official announcement. We’re still talking,” Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid said in the late innings of Sunday’s Brewers-Astros game.

Asked whether the delay indicated that talks had hit a snag, Seid said, “There’s no official announcement, but it was a good sign that he was here. That’s where we’re at right now. Talks are very good. We understand very clearly that [Monday] is the deadline, but we have nothing official at this moment.”

The sides were still in negotiations, Seid said. Draft picks must pass a physical exam before their contract becomes official, but Seid reported no medical hurdles with Davis.

Davis was Milwaukee’s second of 53 Draft picks and the first of two supplemental first-round selections. The team announced its deal with the other, Kennesaw State University right-hander Kyle Heckathorn, during a game at Miller Park on July 25 and then introduced the player to reporters in a workroom behind the press box. On Sunday morning, club officials were preparing to similarly unveil Davis, but it never happened.

Short by professional baseball standards (5-foot-9) and stout (200 pounds), Davis burst onto the scene at Tennessee in 2008, when he led the school with a .330 batting average, 68 hits, 13 home runs, 44 RBIs and a .435 on-base percentage. He got a bit pull-happy this year, according to scouts, but still batted .308 with nine homers and 30 RBIs.

Davis played center field for the Vols but scouts cite his average throwing arm as one reason his future home could be in left. A left-handed hitter and a right-handed thrower, Davis was eligible as a sophomore because he did not turn 21 until after the Draft.

Only three of the Brewers’ picks in the first 20 rounds remain unsigned: Davis, right-hander Brooks Hall (fourth round) and shortstop Scooter Gennett (16th round). Both Hall and Gennett are prep players. Hall is committed to South Carolina and Gennett to Florida State.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Brewers were still negotiating with both players, Seid said.

Even without Davis, Hall and Gennett in the fold, the Brewers have signed 29 of their 53 Draft picks including 19 of their first 22.
 

Suppan, Bush still 10 days away

Brewers manager Ken Macha came armed with a pocket schedule for his morning meeting with reporters and laid out the plan for rehabbing right-handers Jeff Suppan (oblique) and Dave Bush (triceps).

After Suppan surrendered four runs in 3 1/3 innings at Class A Wisconsin on Saturday night, club officials decided he needed another outing. Suppan will start Thursday for Triple-A Nashville, leaving him lined up to return to the Brewers’ starting rotation on Aug. 25 against the Reds at Miller Park.

Suppan was back at Miller Park on Sunday for treatment, but was not available to reporters during open hours in the clubhouse. Macha said Suppan was reporting nothing other than the usual post-start soreness.

“He’s got typical stuff after pitching,” Macha said. “A
little tender. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

Bush, meanwhile, is already slated to start for Wisconsin on Tuesday and will follow with an outing for Double-A Huntsville on Saturday. That means he will be ready to return to the big league rotation on Aug. 27, the series finale against the Reds.

Macha said the reasoning behind giving Suppan another
outing and scheduling Bush for two was so that each pitcher will be able to throw six
innings when they return.

 

With those plans set, Macha was able to lay out his probable pitchers for the next week. Mike Burns moves back to the bullpen after his fine seven-inning outing on Saturday night, so the list looks like this:

Monday at PIT: Carlos Villanueva
Tuesday at PIT: Manny Parra
Wednesday at PIT: Yovani Gallardo

Thursday OFF

Friday at WAS: Braden Looper
Saturday at WAS: Villanueva
Aug. 23 at WAS: Parra
Aug. 24 at WAS: Gallardo

Of course, as Macha cautioned, there could always be road
bumps along the way.

“We sat down and tried to figure all this out this
morning, but as we’re all well aware the best laid plans perhaps go awry,”
he said.

 

Same lineup as Brewers look for sweep

The Brewers will use the same lineup – except pitcher – today as they did in yesterday’s 6-2 win over the Astros. The Brewers are looking for their first series sweep in two months (June 15-17 at Cleveland) and a four-game winning streak, which would be the team’s longest since it won seven straight in mid-May.

Here are the lineups:

Milwaukee
Felipe Lopez 2B
Craig Counsell 3B
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Mike Cameron CF
Frank Catalanotto RF
Jason Kendall C
Braden Looper RHP
Alcides Escober SS

Houston
Michael Bourn CF
Kazuo Matsui 2B
Lance Berkman 1B
Carlos Lee LF
Geoff Blum 3B
Hunter Pence RF
Ivan Rodriguez C
Jeff Keppinger SS
Roy Oswalt RHP

-Cash

Bush sim game a success; Suppan roughed up

Dave Bush’s 45-pitch simulated game at Miller Park on Saturday went well — “Excellent,” was assistant general manager Gord Ash’s word of choice — and the right-hander will take the next step in a rehabilitation assignment with Class A Wisconsin on Tuesday.

Bush, who has not pitched in the Majors since June 20 because of a triceps injury, simulated three innings against a group of hitters that included Jason Bourgeois and Alcides Escobar. The Brewers will re-evaluate their options after Bush pitches for the Timber Rattlers on Tuesday.

“From my eye, there was no trepidation in his release of the ball,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “His cutter was cutting pretty well, and his sinker was sinking with good finish.”

Did Bush feel any soreness?

“Not right now. We’ll see a little more tomorrow, but I was pleased with how it went,” he said. “I felt comfortable out there, felt like I was able to put out the kind of effort I needed to and I didn’t feel tentative at all, so I’m definitely pleased about that. I’m not anticipating anything because I feel pretty good now. It’s always good to sleep on it and make sure it all works well tomorrow.”

Bush had hoped to be back in the rotation weeks ago. He made the second of two Minor League rehabilitation starts the day before Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game and had to exit early with arm fatigue. This time, he’s being cautious.

“I’ve been down this road once, so I want to make sure I’m ready for each step at a time,” Bush said.

Another rehabbing right-hander, Jeff Suppan, working back from an oblique injury, started for Wisconsin on Saturday night and surrendered four runs on five hits in 3 1/3 innings. He pitched a 1-2-3 first inning, but got into trouble after an infield single to shortstop Josh Prince leading off the second. Prince, the Brewers’ third-round Draft pick this year, also committed an error in the inning.

Suppan threw 31 of his 39 pitches for strikes.

“Preparing for this start after the layoff, I was looking for no apprehension on my part with my oblique, and I felt that I didn’t have any apprehension,” Suppan told the Appleton Post-Crescent. “So that was the main key for me. Pitch-wise … my command wasn’t really where it would be [with] getting proper throwing and proper bullpens. But I was very happy overall with how I felt.”

Earlier this week Macha said that, with a good outing, the hope was for Suppan to re-join Milwaukee’s starting rotation during the team’s Aug. 21-24 series in Washington. After Saturday’s game, Macha said that is no longer the case.

“We
were kind of hoping … but it doesn’t look like it after tonight,” he said.

Macha also said the role of Mike Burns — rotation or bullpen — is still undecided. Because of an off day on Thursday, the Brewers could use four pitchers in the next rotation and skip Burns, who allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings Saturday.

You can read the full report of Suppan’s start in Appleton here.

In the Minors: Jones to AAA; Butler, Rogers to AFL

Some Minor League tidbits from Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash:

- The organization intends to promote former first-round Draft pick Mike Jones to Triple-A Nashville on Monday. It’s a significant milestone for Jones, the 12th overall pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, who has been derailed by shoulder injuries over the years.

Jones had been pitching at Double-A Huntsville and doing, “great, which is why we want to send him to Triple-A,” Ash said. “He wants to go. He has never been over Double-A, so he feels good about it and he deserves the chance.”

Ash has seen Jones pitch three times this season and said the pitcher’s fastball is back up to 93 mph. In 20 starts this season between Class A Brevard County and Huntsville, Jones is 7-5 with a 4.40 ERA and 73 strikeouts versus 32 walks.

- Right-hander Josh Butler, who had been sidelined by an oblique injury, is healthy and will take Jones’ place at Double-A Huntsville. In four Minor League stops this year, including his just-completed rehab stint in the rookie Arizona League, Butler has a 2.87 ERA in 20 appearances, 19 of them starts.

The Brewers acquired Butler from Tampa Bay last season for outfielder Gabe Gross. 

- Teams have until Monday to designate their pitchers for the prestigious Arizona Fall League, but the Brewers intend to make Butler and fellow right-hander Mark Rogers two of their four picks. Another could go to left-hander Zach Braddock, depending on Braddock’s health. He had been sidelined by a shoulder injury, then developed blisters. The shoulder has healed, Ash said, and the blisters are close.

“Butler will be one of then, Rogers will be one,” Ash said. “After that, it’s wait and see what we have, health-wise.”

On the positional side, Brewers GM Doug Melvin told MLB.com on Saturday that the team intends to send outfielder Lorenzo Cain, infielder Taylor Green and catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the AFL.

- The Brewers considered promoting Rogers, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 Draft, from Class A Brevard County but opted against it. Rogers has also been derailed by shoulder problems, but Ash saw him firing 98 mph fastballs during a visit this summer.

“We’ll let him have a full, good year there,” Ash said. “We’re trying to extend his pitch count. He was at 50; now he’s up to 65. He’s pretty impressive. Ninety-eight [mph] with good secondary stuff. And he’s feeling good about himself, which is the important thing.”

- The Brewers will lose a number of Minor League players on Sept. 1 to the Baseball World Cup in Europe, Ash said. Among the participants are Canada’s Brett Lawrie, Jim Henderson, John Axford and Adam Stern, Puerto Rico’s Martin Maldonado and Efrain Nieves and The Netherlands’ Shawn Zarraga. Canada and the Netherlands play their first-round games in Sundbyberg, Sweden, and Puerto Rico begins in Barcelona. 

Outfielder Jason Bourgeois, promoted to Milwaukee this week, was under consideration for the U.S. entry, but his call-up makes him ineligible.

- Partly because of those losses, and partly because the Brewers have a number of players coming back from injury, the team will make very few Sept. 1 call-ups. The only sure thing is that the Brewers will promote an extra catcher, Ash said.
 

Kendall back in lineup as Crew looks for third straight win

Jason Kendall is back behind the plate tonight because of his numbers against Houston starter Brian Moehler (10-for-13 for a .769 batting average) as the Brewers look to win three straight for the first time since sweeping Cleveland in mid-June.

Milwaukee
Felipe Lopez 2B
Craig Counsell 3B
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Mike Cameron CF
Frank Catalanotto RF
Jason Kendall C
Mike Burns RHP
Alcides Escober SS

Houston

Michael Bourn CF

Miguel Tejada SS

Lance Berkman 1B

Carlos Lee LF

Geoff Blum 3B

Hunter Pence RF

Ivan Rodriguez C

Kazuo Matsui 2B

Brian Moehler RHP

-Cash

Lopez atones: Hustle sets tone for Brewers rout

On Wednesday, Brewers second baseman Felipe Lopez drew boos from the Miller Park after dropping what should have been an inning-ending pop-up. Two days before that, he let two ground balls get by. A little more than a week before that, he failed to run hard to first base.

On Thursday, Lopez’s hustle was perhaps the key to the Brewers’ blowout win.

Lopez beat out a ground ball to first base leading off the bottom of the first inning and his dash sparked an eight-run inning. Had Lopez not hustled out of the box, Ryan Braun’s home run two batters later would have been a solo shot, and Prince Fielder’s strikeout that followed would have ended the inning with the Brewers ahead, 1-0. Instead, the two batters following Fielder worked walks and the Brewers went on to open an 8-0 lead against Houston left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.

“Everybody got excited,” Lopez said. “It kind of gave everybody a little energy, and that’s nice.”

Brewers manager Ken Macha had a brief — very brief — chat with Lopez before batting practice on Friday and essentially reminded the player to hustle. Was that in the back of Lopez’s mind in the first inning?

“No,” Lopez said, “because what we talk about stays in here. We just go out and perform.”

What did Macha think?

“[The chat] probably had no effect. No effect at all,” Macha said. “When he came in, everybody was saying, ‘Way to hustle.’ That maybe put a little underline, that’s all. He came out and played a good game today. That comes from within him. He did a good job, set the tone, and we ended up with eight runs in that inning.”

Cain, Green, Lucroy among Fall League picks

The pitchers won’t get finalized until next week, but Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said today that outfielder Lorenzo Cain, infielder Taylor Green and catcher Jonathan Lucroy had been selected to represent the organization in the prospect-rich Arizona Fall League later this year. For Cain and Green, it will be an opportunity to play catch-up after missing some time this season with injuries. Cain tweaked his knee again playing defense just this week, but Melvin said the injury was very minor.

On the pitching side, the Brewers have talked about sending former first-round Draft pick Mark Rogers, but Melvin said club officials had not discussed it with Rogers just yet.

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