Milwaukee has a ton of speed, talent and potential in its system of outfielders. The question remains whether they continue to progress, especially with plate discipline and eliminating so many strikeouts.
The trade of Michael Brantley as the player to be named later in the CC Sabathia trade gives these guys a better chance of making the big-league club, but they're earning their stripes and it will be interesting to see which one or two jump ahead of the others.
Here is BrewerUpdate.com's current rankings, which could change dramatically once these younger guys gain more experience and exposure.
The Oregon State product was the club's third-round pick in 2006 after being a co-captain and conference player of the year for the NCAA national champions. Gillespie may not be flashy or possess the athletic tools of other outfielders in the system, but he features the necessary intangibles and offers consistent production.
Gillespie has made a steady climb since leading the Pioneer League in on-base percentage (.464) at Helena in '06. Although he batted only .267 at Brevard County the next summer, he belted 12 homers and knocked in 62.
And then he became a key contributor for the powerful offensive machine in Huntsville last season, hitting .281 with 38 doubles, 14 homers and 79 RBI despite battling a broken toe on his right foot.
He isn't a speed burner, but he stole 16 bases in 2007 and was 17 of 18 last year. He needs to cut back on strikeouts, whiffing 197 times the last two campaigns, but he's also walked a combined 147 times to give him OBPs of .378 and .386, respectively.
Gillespie is an adequate defender, having committed five miscues a year ago. One would think he'd spend most of his time at Triple-A this season.
2. Lorenzo Cain
His speed and defense are strong points for Cain, like Gillespie a right-handed hitter. It's simply a matter of Cain--the top outfield prospect in many people's eyes—maturing offensively, especially in plate and strike zone discipline.
The 17th-rounder from 2004 was a draft-and-follow who was a topnotch performer in Arizona in '05 and an All-Star at West Virginia the following summer, leading the circuit in several categories including doubles, total bases and slugging percentage.
He spent all of 2007 at Brevard County, batting .276 with 97 strikeouts and 37 walks in 126 contests. Cain then bounced around between three levels a year ago, playing 80 games with the Manatees (.287) and making 40 appearances with Huntsville (.277) while combining for 11 homers, 58 RBI and 109 strikeouts.
Cain fine-tuned his raw and still blossoming skills in the Arizona Fall League, batting .333 (21 for 63) with five homers, 11 RBI and a .382 OBP in 18 outings.
He should be Huntsville's starting center fielder this season.
3. Caleb Gindl
This kid is another potential fast riser, having led the Pioneer League in batting with a .372 average after being taken in the fifth round out of Pace High School in Florida in 2007. He finished with five long balls and 42 RBI, and he provided even more power and production in his first full season at West Virginia this past year.
Gindl batted .307 with 38 two-baggers, 13 round-trippers, 81 RBI, 241 total bases and a .388 OBP, which should only get better as he makes more contact—he struck out 144 times in 508 at-bats.
The 20-year-old honed those skills in the Hawaii Winter League, hitting .281 with three homers and 18 RBI in 25 games that included a .361 OBP. He batted .350 during his final 10 contests, with two long balls and four of his six doubles.
It will be interesting to see how he handles the Florida League this summer.
4. Logan Schafer
Milwaukee's third-round choice this past June, Schafer joined Gindl in Hawaii, where he batted .244 (21 of 86) in 26 appearances, contributing a homer and 10 RBI with a 13-7 walks-to-strikeouts ratio.
That latter statistic was impressive considering Schafer had fanned 42 times with only eight free passes in 43 games at West Virginia. He started but played only eight games at Helena, with a triple, two homers and eight RBI.
Schafer then played in the SAL during the Power's run to the playoffs, batting .276 with 13 doubles and 20 RBI. That's where he should suit up again this summer.
5. Erik Komatsu
The team's eighth-round selection from a year ago—and like Gindl and Schafer, he bats from the left side--isn't far behind after being named a Pioneer League All-Star. He batted .321 in 68 games for the Brewers, finishing with 19 doubles, 11 homers, 47 RBI and final numbers of .394/.538/.932.
The Cal-State Fullerton product struck out 42 times against 30 walks and contributed eight stolen bases.
On the radar
Cutter Dykstra: One of the Brewers' three second-round picks last season, the right-handed hitting Dykstra split time between Helena and Arizona because of a groin injury.
The son of former big-leaguer Lenny Dykstra hit .269 in 10 outings in the desert and compiled a .271 showing in 38 contests in Montana, finishing with nine doubles, five homers, 17 RBI and a .367 OBP during his second stop.
One would assume that he'd play in Appleton this summer, at least to start out. He also should rise quickly if healthy.
Lee Haydel: This lefty, a 19th-round pick in 2006 and another draft-and-follow, hasn't hit a homer in pro ball, but his game is speed and defense.
Haydel hit .276 at Helena in '07 with 17 extra-base hits and 20 RBI in 62 contests. He improved to .295 at West Virginia last summer, including .307 with runners in scoring position and .308 or better in three straight months from June-August.
He accumulated 21 doubles, eight triples and 50 RBI and scored 68 runs. However, Haydel must cut down on his Ks, having struck out 107 times to only 32 walks. He stole 34 bases but was caught 17 times.