I had the chance to take in a few Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game this past week. While the team doesn't feature any of the top prospects in baseball, there are a good amount of players that could help the Brewers big league club in one way or another.
Banda is listed at 6'2" which I was surprised to see, I would have guessed closer to 5'11". At any rate, Banda featured an above average curveball that he was not afraid to use in any count. Banda used the pitch effectively as a get ahead pitch as well as a strikeout pitch. I did not have a radar gun available, but I would guess that Banda threw his strikeout version of the curve harder than his early in the count version. Banda's fastball was in the high 80's according to reports, but it was flast and up in the zone most of the night. The Kane County Cougars were able to square up multiple fastballs and laid of a number of other ones out of the zone. Banda has some work to do on improving his command of the fastball if he hopes to have a major league career, but his curveball should allow him the opportunity to stay afloat as a minor leaguer.
The Timber Rattler's big player this year is Clint Coulter. I plan to do a more detailed write up of him this week, but lets just say that Coulter did not disappoint with the bat. In his first at bat, the 21-year-old catcher deposited a middle-middle hanging breaking ball over the left field wall. Coulter showed very good pitch recognition skills, very advanced for the A-Ball level. He was fooled on the first breaking pitch he saw, but pulled off the pitch to not make weak contact, and made the adjustment to hit the breaker out in the same at bat. Coulter is a very patient hitter, with above average recognition of the strike zone.
The big question about Coulter has always been his defense and after seeing him catch a few games I really don't see any way he will be able to stick at the position. A move to a corner spot is most definitely in his future. I will write up a lot more on Coulter early this week.
A player that really impressed me was first basemen David Denson. The 19-year-old has had an injury plagued first full season. After struggling mightily in April with a slash line of .182/.333/.242, Denson picked it up in May with a .341/.442/.568 line in thirteen games before going down with an injury that caused him to miss the last part of May and all of June.
What I saw from Denson was a hitter who knew his strengths and looked for his pitch at all times. This will lead to a lot of strikeouts for Denson, but also a lot of walks. Denson is very much in the mold of the Adam Dunn, Russell Branyan and Mark Reynolds type hitters. While this may not sound entirely appealing, these types of players offer a lot of value. Denson's power has not translated to the game yet, with only four home runs on the season, but it is apparent when you watch his swing and the way the ball jumps off the bat. The young kid has done a lot to transform his body and still has work to do, but even as a bigger guy the athleticism is there.