Results tagged ‘ Jonathan Lucroy ’

Tired Rogers satisfied with AFL stint

mark-rogers.jpgForget what the numbers say. Brewers pitching prospect Mark Rogers is satisfied with his stint in the Arizona Fall League and the end of a long but healthy season. He’s also ready for a break.

Speaking Friday on a well-deserved day off, Rogers thought there was a “good chance” that he would get at least an inning of work in Saturday’s AFL Championship game. It would offer one last chance to put a positive finish on an up-and-down experience.

Rogers has been pitching — and struggling — for the Peoria Javelinas, a team of Brewers, Mariners, White Sox, Tigers and Dodgers prospect in the prestigious AFL. His team is set to face the Phoenix Desert Dogs on Saturday in a 1:35 p.m. CT game that will air on MLB Network. 

“I’m really fortunate to be with a great group of guys,” said Rogers, one of eight Brewers prospects on the team. “I’ll chalk it up as another great experience in my career.” 

It’s almost over, and that might not be a bad thing. Rogers, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, is coming off the longest season of his career after two full years lost entirely to shoulder surgeries. Before this season, Rogers had not pitched in a game since June 2006. 

He made up for lost time by posting a 1.63 ERA in 22 starts and one relief appearance at Class A Brevard County. Working on a strict pitch count, Rogers struck out 67 batters in 64 2/3 innings and touched 98 mph on the radar gun.

His AFL stint hasn’t been quite as smooth. Entering Saturday’s finale, Rogers had allowed 18 earned runs and 20 hits including three home runs in 10 2/3 innings. He walked nine, versus seven walks.  Opponents were hitting .392 against him. 

“I think I’m seeing a little bit of the fatigue from my first full season in three years, that’s for sure” he admitted. “But in the meantime I’m learning a lot. There are some really good hitters down here, and they hit mistakes. You have to be able to pitch. 

“It’s definitely going to be something to build on for next Spring Training. The main thing is that I feel good, but at the same time I do feel like it’s my first full season in three years. It’s a long year. That everyday grind adds up.” 

He began preparing for the 2009 season last November, meaning Rogers has now been throwing every day for more than 12 months. He’s looking forward to a post-AFL break. This year, he’ll take part in the conditioning portion of the Brewers’ offseason minicamp and will continue his shoulder exercises, but probably won’t start throwing regularly until January.  

“I know I can make it through a full season now with my arm feeling great, and that makes me really excited for next season,” said Rogers, who could find himself in Double-A Huntsville this time. “I’m going to come in fresh and ready to go with a lot more experience under my belt. Compare that to last year, when it was a clean slate. This time I have a lot of confidence that I can come into camp and turn some heads.”

The Brewers added Rogers to their 40-man roster last year and burned the first of his three Minor League options in March.

“I think he is starting to get things ironed out,” Brewers farm director Reid Nichols said. “He has been through a lot to this point. It was pretty exciting to see the mid-90 [mph] fastball come back. Now it’s just touch and feel and learning to read hitters. It may take some time because he missed a lot of it. The good news is he is healthy.”

Rogers was not the only Brewers pitching prospect who struggled in the AFL.
   
In 2009 the Brewers added Josh Butler to the 40-man roster, another intriguing right-handed pitching prospect who struggled alongside Rogers. After going 9-3 with a 2.97 ERA for four Brewers affiliates and earning a taste of the Majors in September, Butler struggled to an 11.93 ERA in six fall league starts. Opponents hit him at a .429 clip. 

Fellow 40-man roster member Omar Aguilar had a 7.11 ERA in nine relief appearances. Left-hander Zack Braddock was a bright spot before he surrendered six earned runs on four walks and four hits in 1/3 inning of relief work on Thursday, an outing that bumped his ERA from 0.87 to 5.25. Righty Rob Wooten allowed five runs in nine relief innings for a 5.00 ERA. 

The Brewers’ hitters in the AFL offered more to feel good about. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was especially impressive, drawing raves from scouts and the Brewers officials who saw him play, hitting .310 through Thursday with two home runs and 10 RBIs. Outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who on Wednesday was added to the 40-man roster, hit .242 but posted a solid .375 on-base percentage as the Javelinas’ leadoff hitter. 

Third baseman Taylor Green was batting .212 entering Saturday’s finale but had four of his 11 hits and all six of his RBIs in the Javelinas’ last three games. 

“I believe that if you have this experience, it’s going to make you better,” Rogers said. “It’s been a great year for me, and I don’t want to look at it as anything else. I look forward to a full season ahead of me without a pitch count where I can just go play.”

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GM says Kottaras claim is about depth

The Brewers added catching depth on Wednesday by claiming onetime Padres prospect George Kottaras off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.

Kottaras, 26 and a left-handed hitter, reportedly asked out of Boston after it became clear that Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek would be back in 2010. Kottaras appeared in 45 games with the Red Sox last season and batted .237 with one home run and 10 RBIs.

He is out of Minor League options, and joins catchers Mike Rivera and Angel Salome on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster. The Brewers also plan to give a long Spring Training look to prospect Jonathan Lucroy, whom general manager Doug Melvin mentioned this month as a candidate to jump from Double-A to the Majors in 2010.

Rivera, Salome and Lucroy are all right-handed hitters.

“If we can get better, then we’ll try to get better,” Melvin said. “We have to have depth. We have Salome and Lucroy, we have Kottaras and we still have Rivera, but we don’t have a front-line guy.” 

That guy in the past two seasons was Jason Kendall, but Kendall cost $5 million in 2009 and Melvin made it clear to agent Arn Tellem that the Brewers didn’t intend to spend that much behind the plate next year.

Rivera is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, but Melvin wouldn’t say what the Brewers plans are for him next season. The team has until Dec. 12 to decide whether to tender Rivera a 2010 contract.  

Asked for his thoughts about the team’s catching situation in general, Melvin said, “It’s too early to say what we’ll do. We haven’t gotten to the Winter Meetings. Free agency hasn’t even started yet so we can’t really talk to anyone.” 

Teams own exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents for the 15 days following the World Series. They are free to negotiate with all free agents beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on Friday. 

As recently as three years ago, Kottaras was rated the second-best prospect in San Diego’s organization by Baseball America. He was traded from San Diego to Boston late that year to complete the trade that sent pitcher David Wells to the Padres.

In seven Minor League seasons, Kottaras is a .269 hitter with 66 home runs and 289 RBIs. His best year was 2007, when he batted .243 for Boston’s Triple-A affiliate with a career-best 22 home runs and 65 RBIs in 107 games.

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Melvin on catchers making Double-A jump

I joined the crowd last night writing about Jason Kendall‘s uncertain future in Milwaukee after Brewers GM Doug Melvin once again touted prospect Jonathan Lucroy as a candidate to catch at least part-time in 2010.

I wanted to highlight one section of the story, borrowing Melvin’s comments on 1250-AM WSSP last Friday. He made some of the same comparisons yesterday in a chat with Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, so I think it’s worth passing along:

lucroy.jpg“Jonathan Lucroy is an advanced player,” Melvin told the radio station last week. “We went through the list of players who jumped from Double-A to the big leagues, and there’s a pretty large list of them, from Russell Martin to Chris Snyder of the Diamondbacks to [Kurt] Suzuki with Oakland. Jason Kendall did it in his career. Pudge Rodriguez. There are a number of catchers who have jumped from Double-A to the big leagues, and it might be because of need as much as anything.”

So I went through some of those players and, Martin certainly fits what could lie ahead for Lucroy. Martin had just turned 23 and had played only 23 games at Triple-A before debuting with the Dodgers in 2006. He batted .282 with 10 home runs and 65 RBIs in 121 games that season.

Snyder also was 23 when the D-backs promoted him in 2004, but unlike Lucroy, who never played an inning over the Class A level before 2009, Snyder had played parts of two seasons at Double-A before his Major League debut. Snyder struggled at the plate in his first full big league season in 2005. Suzuki was also 23 when the A’s came calling in 2007 and put up numbers in his final Double-A season extremely similar to Lucroy’s output in 2009, but Suzuki played more than two months at Triple-A before his promotion.

Kendall was only 21 when the Pirates made him their Opening Day catcher in 1996 after a season-plus at Double-A. Kendall hit .300 in his first big league seasons, but the Brewers don’t necessarily see that kind of output from Lucroy. He profiles more as a Terry Steinbach-type.

Rodriguez had even less experience than Lucroy, with only 50 Double-A games under his belt before the Rangers promoted him as a 19-year-old in 1991.

Lucroy batted .267 at Double-A Huntsville in 2009 with nine home runs, 66 RBIs and a .380 on-base percentage. He walked 78 times versus 66 strikeouts.

“We’re probably going to look seriously at Jonathan,” Melvin told the radio station. “He can handle a pitching staff. He gets more walks than strikeouts. In fact, Ken Macha called me last week in Arizona and said, ‘I’m just calling to see how Lucroy is doing.’ And just as he asked me, Lucroy hit a line drive over the left-field fence, so the timing was good. He’s getting a lot of praises in Arizona, seriously enough that we are going to consider him a candidate.”

Lucroy, who won’t turn 23 until June 24, would skew the Brewers even younger. When Melvin traded shortstop J.J. Hardy to Minnesota on Friday he received the team’s new starting center fielder in return, and Carlos Gomez won’t turn 24 until Dec. 4. The trade also opened the shortstop position for Alcides Escobar, who won’t be 23 until Dec. 13.

Those youngsters could play behind projected Opening Day starter Yovani Gallardo, who turns 24 on Feb. 27.

Melvin was in meetings all morning on Tuesday and did not return a call from MLB.com seeking his thoughts about the team’s catching situation. Kendall, who formally filed for free agency on the first day to do so last week, also did not return a call.

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Rogers picked for AFL showcase

mark-rogers.jpgBrewers pitching prospect Mark Rogers, who has followed a long road back from injuries, was honored Monday night with a spot in the Arizona Fall League’s upcoming Rising Stars showcase game.

The exhibition, set for Saturday at 7:15 p.m. CT in Surprise, Ariz., features current AFL participants selected by scouting and Minor League directors from every organization, along with input from AFL executive director Steve Cobb.

For the first time, the Showcase will also be available to a national television audience. MLB Network will carry a live broadcast of the Rising Stars Game with Diamondbacks announcer Daron Sutton and MLB Network’s Tony Clark in the broadcast booth. A live video feed will also be available on MLB.com.

Nationals uber-prospect Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in last June’s Draft, is part of the “East Division” squad, and he’s in line to start Saturday’s showcase after having his pitching schedule shifted this week. Rogers is part of the West Division but he’s not scheduled to start. That honor will likely go to Braves prospect Mike Minor.

Rogers last pitched on Halloween, when he allowed a run in one inning of work. In his first five Fall League appearances, only one of them a start, he allowed 10 runs, 10 hits and eight walks versus five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. That after a tremendous season at Class A Brevard County, where Rogers posted a 1.63 ERA in 23 games and struck out more than a batter an inning.

Passed-over for the AFL showcase were deserving Brewers prospects Jonathan Lucroy and Zach Braddock. Through his last appearance on Oct. 30, Lucroy, a catcher, was hitting .385 in seven games with two home runs and five RBIs. Braddock, a left-hander, notched his second AFL save on Monday and has a 1.04 ERA through seven appearances.

Click here to see the fill list of prospects picked for the Rising Stars Game.

Fall League set to start

afl-javelinas.jpgThe prestigious Arizona Fall League begins its 18th season on Tuesday with a trio of games, including a matchup between the Surprise Rafters and Peoria Javelinas that includes the Brewers’ contingent of prospects.

Eight players will suit up for the Javelinas this season including pitchers Omar Aguilar, Josh Butler, Mark Rogers and Robert Wooten plus catcher Jonathan Lucroy, infielder Taylor Green and outfielder Lorenzo Cain.

In addition, left-hander Zach Braddock is a member of the Javelina’s taxi squad, available on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Class A Brevard County pitching coach Fred Dabney will serve in that role for the Javelinas.

That’s a pretty impressive list of Brewers prospects. Keep an especially close eye on Aguilar, Butler and Rogers because they are on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster, plus Cain and Lucroy, who have pretty clear paths to the big leagues if they can continue to develop. Cain lost part of the 2009 season to a knee injury, so his AFL stint is particularly important.

The AFL distributed a PDF packed with everything you could possibly want to know about the league, so I’ll attach it here for those who are interested. The AFL’s regular season ends Nov. 21 with the championship game slated for Nov. 21.
Javelina.jpg
AFL Opening Day.pdf

Here’s something you won’t find in that PDF: A javelina, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, is also known as a peccary, a medium-sized mammal that looks a bit like a pig. A terrifying, crazed pig.

Tidbits: Hoffman, Suppan, Sheets, Hardy

The discussion about whether the Brewers would trade Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder was the most interesting part of general manager Doug Melvin’s year-end wrap-up with the media, but here’s a taste of the other topics discussed:

- The Brewers officially announced their new deal with closer Trevor Hoffman, who re-signed for one year plus a mutual option for 2011. The contract guarantees $8 million and could pay as much as $16.5 million over two years. 

 “By signing Trevor Hoffman, that was a big splash for us,” Melvin said. “If our pitching is going to improve, we have to keep the success we had at the back end of our bullpen. And also, to attract free agent starting pitchers, one of the first questions they always want to know is, ‘Who is the closer?'” 

- Melvin hinted that the focus on pitching could make it difficult for the team to re-sign its key free agents, including center fielder Mike Cameron and catcher Jason Kendall. Rickie Weeks is the second baseman, Melvin reiterated, making it likely that free agent Felipe Lopez will also be let go.

Assistant GM Gord Ash conceded that it’s difficult for teams to win with unproven players up the middle but insisted it can be done. He mentioned Lorenzo Cain and Logan Schafer as the team’s top center field prospects and said Jonathan Lucroy was the team’s top catching prospect. Interestingly, Angel Salome’s name was not brought up.

- Jeff Suppan, the Brewers’ 2009 Opening Day starter, is not guaranteed a spot in the 2010 starting rotation despite his $12.5 million salary. It will be the final season of his four-year contract, and he projects as the team’s highest-paid player for the second straight year. 

“I think Jeff is a professional and he knows that he will come into camp and [compete],” Melvin said. “You have to give him some credit for the fact he’s been given the ball a lot of years. He’s very seldom injured. … I don’t think there will be very many guarantees about who will be in the rotation. We probably have to make it more competitive to get better.” 

- Free agent righty Ben Sheets, who missed all of 2009 following elbow surgery, is still on the Brewers’ radar.

“Ben is somebody who would have to be on anybody’s list when it comes to improving your pitching staff,” Ash said. “We’re not up to date with his physical condition right now since he’s no longer in our care, so that would have to be Step 1. But from our point of view, we enjoyed Ben as part of the Brewers and there’s been, ‘once in a while’ conversations with his agent to remind him that we still have that ongoing interest. It hasn’t been followed-up yet.”

- Melvin already interviewed one potential pitching coach on Monday and was to travel with Ash on Thursday to interview another candidate. He wouldn’t say whether he had already spoken with former A’s and Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson, an early favorite for the position because of his past working relationships with Brewers manager Ken Macha and bench coach Willie Randolph

“We don’t want to advertise who we’re looking at,” Melvin said. “The cat’s out of the bag on one guy. I interviewed him on Monday and another team interviewed him the next day.” 

- Ash shed more light on the options that faced third baseman Casey McGehee, who underwent successful surgery on Tuesday. McGehee has a lesion in his knee, Ash said, that causes fragments of bone to break away. He could have had a more intensive procedure to inject healthy cells into the knee to promote re-growth but it was a riskier procedure that could have sidelined McGehee weeks or even months into the 2010 season. 

“He elected, after consulting with a couple of surgeons, to have kind of the intermediary procedure done, and that was to take out all of the fragments and hope that area of his knee remains intact,” Ash said. “We don’t have 100 percent guarantee on that. What we do know about Casey is that he’s an excellent worker and he’s motivated.” 

- Melvin did little to dispute the notion that shortstop J.J. Hardy will be traded this winter to make room for Alcides Escobar. Hardy’s value is down both because of his poor 2009 season (he batted .229 and was optioned to the Minors in August) and because the rest of the league knows that the Brewers are ready to install Escobar. 

“It might be down a little bit,” Melvin said of Hardy’s value. “But there are still clubs that have interest in him. Shortstop is a big hole to fill.”

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Eight farmhands set for Arizona Fall League

Eight Brewers Minor Leaguers, including 2004 first-round Draft pick Mark Rogers, will play for the Peoria Javelinas in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.

Besides Rogers, who missed all of 2007 and 2008 with shoulder injuries, the Brewers will send pitchers Omar Aguilar, Zach Braddock, Josh Butler and Rob Wooten, plus catcher Jonathan Lucroy, infielder Taylor Green and outfielder Lorenzo Cain. The position players have been set for some time, but Brewers officials waited until this week to finalize their contingent of arms.

Braddock, who has battled a shoulder injury and blisters this summer, is on the Javelinas’ “taxi squad” and may be activated only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Both Rogers and Aguilar are on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster.

Additionally, Class A Brevard County’s Fred Dabney will serve as the Javelinas’ pitching coach this fall.

The Javelinas play home games at Peoria Sports Complex and will be comprised of players from the Brewers, Dodgers, Mariners, Tigers and White Sox. The 18th annual Arizona Fall League season begins on October 13 and runs through Nov. 19 with the Rising Stars game on Nov. 7 and the Championship game set for Nov. 21. Every game can be followed live on Gameday on MLB.com and MLBFallBall.com.
 

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.

Rivera on the DL, Corporan on the way up

The Brewers decided to place backup catcher Mike Rivera on the 15-day disabled list after Wednesday’s win over the Pirates. A visit with head team physician William Raasch revealed that Rivera’s left ankle injury was “more serious than that thought,” according to the player.

Rivera characterized his injury as a high ankle sprain. The Brewers were still referring to it as a simple, Grade 1 sprain, when they announced the roster move. The corresponding move would be announced later Wednesday or at some point on Thursday, according to a club spokesperson.

(That move came just after 6 p.m. CT. The Brewers will promote Carlos Corporan from Nashville and add him to the 40-man roster.)

The only other catcher on the 40-man roster is Angel Salome, who is hitting just .182 at Triple-A Nashville and missed much of Spring Training with a back injury. Triple-A backup Corporan is much more familiar with the Brewers’ staff because he stayed with the big league club all the way through its exhibition games in Los Angeles just before the start of the regular season. 
 

Brewers pass on Palmisano

As recently as one year ago, it would have been very difficult to imagine the Brewers declining an opportunity to add a catcher to the system. But that’s exactly what they did on Saturday.

The Astros offered back Rule 5 pick Lou Palmisano, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said, but Milwaukee declined the offer and Houston was allowed to stash Palmisano in the Minor Leagues. The Brewers received $50,000 when Palmisano was selected in December — Baltimore made the pick, then traded the player to Houston — and would have had to pay back $25,000 to accept him back.

Instead, the Brewers were content to keep their $25,000 and will rely on other catchers in the system. Angel Salome and Vinny Rottino (or perhaps Carlos Corporan, Melvin said) are likely to catch at Triple-A Nashville, and the impressive Jonathan Lucroy is ticketed for Double-A Huntsville.
 

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