Milwaukee features some big, promising arms in its farm system, and they're split pretty well between southpaws and right-handers. However, most of them haven't reached Double-A yet and won't be big-league ready until at least 2010 or 2011.
No. 1 prospect Jeremy Jeffress could make the jump this coming year under certain circumstances, but he's only worked 14.2 innings at Huntsville and likely will start there this summer after his Arizona Fall League stay was cut short.
But the Brewers' scouting department—who grabbed seven hurlers in the first 10 rounds last year--will no doubt fortify the system early in the upcoming draft because it will have several extra picks after losing CC Sabathia and others to free agency.
Here is how BrewerUpdate.com currently ranks the team's pitching prospects.
1. Jeremy Jeffress
The 6-foot, 200-pound right-handed flame throwing Virginia native is still on track to become a key cog in Milwaukee's future starting rotation if he doesn't suffer anymore off-the-field issues. However, the first-round pick from 2006 was shut down with what was called shoulder fatigue after only three appearances in the Arizona Fall League in October (1-0, 12.86).
Jeffress compiled a 4-6 mark at Brevard County with a 4.08 earned-run average in 15 games--including 14 starts--that covered 79.1 innings. He finished with 102 strikeouts with 41 walks and allowed 65 hits.
To secure a spot in the AFL, Jeffress was promoted to Double-A Huntsville, where he made four starts, going 2-1 with a 5.52 ERA with 13 whiffs and 11 walks in 14.2 innings.
Jeffress sports one of the liveliest arms and highest ceilings of anybody in the minors, often reaching triple digits with his fastball. If he continues to improve his command and off-speed pitches, folks will hear much more about him in the near future.
This big southpaw (6-6 and 240) made a big splash at Helena after being Milwaukee's second of two compensatory choices between the first and second rounds (35th overall). The University of San Francisco product—who spent two years at Virginia Tech--mowed down Pioneer League hitters to the tune of 16 strikeouts in three starting assignments covering 11.2 innings (3.09 ERA).
But then he struggled with his command in the South Atlantic League, walking 26 and striking out 18 in 20.1 innings. He made nine appearances, four of them starts, to finish with an overall 0-1 record and 5.06 ERA at both stops.
Frederickson, who was selected in the 27th round out of high school by Minnesota, has a vast repertoire that has included four- and two-seam fastballs, slider or slurve, cutter and changeup. It's simply a matter of finding consistent command.
3. Omar Aguilar
The 220-pound righty has steadily climbed the system ladder, starting with Arizona in 2006 after being a 30th-round pick the summer before. He registered seven wins and nine saves in 42 appearances at West Virginia in '07 and then got 16 outings in the Hawaii Winter League.
In 2008, Aguilar stifled Florida State League batters with 13 saves, a 3-0 record and 0.35 ERA in 25.2 innings, giving up only 13 hits and one run while striking out 25 and walking 10. That earned him a trip to Huntsville, where he went 0-3 but had a 3.08 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 38 innings with four saves.
Aguilar sparkled in the AFL this year, tossing 10.2 scoreless innings before giving up two runs in his 11th and final appearance, finishing with a 1.54 ERA with a 12-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
He was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft and should return to Huntsville this next spring.
The University of North Carolina right-hander was the team's 13th-round selection last June and didn't waste time in putting up impressive numbers.
The 6-1, 210-pounder recorded two saves in four outings at Helena, working nine scoreless frames while striking out 14 and walking two, quickly getting the call to West Virginia.
He helped the Power reach the postseason, fanning 30 and walking only four in 22.2 innings. He allowed 14 hits and finished 1-0 with a 2.38 ERA and four more saves.
Wooten participated in the fall instructional league to work on and expand his repertoire as he started stretching out his workload with the idea of potentially becoming a starter. It'll be interesting to see how he progresses while hoping to begin at Brevard County.
5. Chris Cody
This 2006 eighth-round pick by Detroit was a Midwest League All-Star selection after going 5-5 with a 1.77 ERA in '07 before starting twice at Advanced-A Lakeland. The Brewers obtained him July 1 of that year for Jose Capellan, and he responded with a 2-1 mark and 3.06 ERA at Brevard County.
He continued his fine work in 2008, beginning at West Virginia with a 2-1 record and 1.74 ERA with 31 strikeouts and only three walks in 31 innings. He then returned to the FSL, where he finished 4-5 with a 1.83 ERA. Cody registered 62 more whiffs against 25 walks and allowed only 68 hits in 83.2 innings.
That led the Brewers assigning him to Hawaii this fall, where he ended up with a 3.90 ERA, allowing 28 hits and nine walks with 32 Ks in 32.1 innings.
The slender righty (6-2 and 175) was the 32nd overall selection last June and the Brewers' first of two compensatory picks after a standout Illinois high school career.
Odorizzi had three rough spots in Arizona, but he didn't allow any runs in his other eight outings, including seven scoreless innings in his last five outings to finish 1-2 with a 3.48 ERA.
He allowed 18 hits in 20.2 innings overall, striking out 19 and walking nine.
7. Seth Lintz
The first of back-to-back picks (53rd overall) and one of three in the second round last year, the right-hander from Marshall County High School in Tennessee also began his pro career with the Arizona Brewers.
Lintz started well, working five scoreless innings during his first three appearances. However, things got much tougher after that as he finished 0-3 with a 6.87 ERA. He struck out 26 but also walked 16 and gave up 22 hits and 14 runs in 18.1 innings.
However, hopes are still high for this 6-1, 170-pounder.
8. Luis Pena
Once thought to be on the cusp of joining the Brewers' bullpen, Pena regressed tremendously last season at Nashville.
Despite registering 15 saves for the Sounds, the 6-foot-5-inch, 200-pound Pena was rocked several times and went downhill in the second half. He finished with a 2-3 record and whopping 6.93 ERA after giving up 38 runs and 54 hits in 49.1 innings.
A major problem was his lack of command: Pena struck out 49 but walked 47 while foes batted .284 against him.
Pena also has been erratic in Venezuelan Winter League action so far, tossing six scoreless outings out of nine appearances through Dec. 14. However, he allowed five hits and five hits in his three other contests that amounted to a combined two-thirds of an inning.
The big righty is on the 40-man roster and has been with the organization since signing as an undrafted free agent in 1999, so his time could be running out. Maybe a second season at Triple-A would help after Pena finished a combined 5-4 with a 2.63 ERA and 18 saves at Brevard County and Huntsville in 2007.
The lanky Puerto Rican prospect was drafted in the seventh round in 2007, where he spent all but two games with the rookie league squad in Arizona, compiling a 2-4 mark and 5.31 ERA.
He rebounded for a nice campaign at Helena this past summer, twice earning Pitcher of the Week honors in the Pioneer League. Nieves finished 6-3 with a 4.48 ERA in 16 games, which included 11 starts.
Nieves allowed 78 hits in 76.1 innings, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio was tremendous at 66-10.
The 6-foot, 169-pounder had pitched in four contests through Dec. 14 in the Puerto Rico Winter League, working 8.1 innings. He had allowed 10 hits and three walks while striking out seven.
10. Amaury Rivas
The 6-2, 190-pound right-hander signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005, spending that season and the first half of 2006 in Arizona before going to Helena. Then he missed a good chunk of the '07 campaign because of elbow trouble.
Rivas responded with a promising 2008, making the South Atlantic League All-Star team after going 8-3 with a 3.50 ERA for West Virginia. Rivas made 19 appearances, 15 of them starts, and struck out 70 against 32 walks in 90 innings, although he allowed 11 long balls.
He then was promoted to Brevard County, where he finished 1-2, starting six of his seven outings. He compiled a 4.20 ERA behind 20 strikeouts and 11 free passes in 30 innings.
On the radar:
Bobby Bramhall: The 18th-round pick out of Rice University in 2007 went 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA for Helena that summer. The lefty backed that up with a 5-4 record this past year at Brevard County, finishing second in the system with a 2.51 ERA after striking out 106 and walking 32 in 111.1 innings, starting nine of his 34 appearances.
Evan Anundsen: The big righty (6-3 and 200), a fourth-round pick in 2006, compiled a 7-5 mark and 4.77 ERA with Helena in 2007 and was 12-8 with a 4.28 ERA last summer at West Virginia, fanning 102 and walking 38 in 28 starts that covered 145 innings.
Zach Braddock The 18th-round selection from 2005 would be ranked much higher if not for his checkered injury history. He went 2-2 with a 5.49 ERA at Helena in '06 but was 3-1 with a sparkling 1.15 ERA at West Virginia in 2007, striking out 68 and walking only 15 in 47 innings before arm woes curtailed his season. He then fanned 13 in six innings to start '08, prompting a move to Brevard County, but he struggled to a 4-7 mark and 5.51 ERA. He struck out 80 but walked 42 in 65 innings, also serving time on the disabled list.
Alex Periard: The righty from Quebec was a 16ht-round choice in 2004, spending the 2005-06 season in Arizona. Then he finished 7-7 with a 3.55 ERA at West Virginia in '07 and compiled a 9-6 record and 3.51 ERA at Brevard County, getting the call to Huntsville. But he struggled mightily with the Stars, going 2-4 with a 5.68 ERA. That trend continued in the Arizona Fall League, where he was 0-3 with a 10.50 ERA, giving up 21 runs on 30 hits and 15 free passes in just 18 innings.
Cody Scarpetta: The big guy (6-3 and 240) was selected in the 11th round out of Rockford (Ill.) Guilford H.S. in 2007, but a tendon injury in his hand shelved him until late in 2008. He went 1-0 at both Arizona and Helena, combining for a 2.23 ERA while striking out 58 and walking 16 in 36.1 innings. He then bounced back well after getting rock in his first two outings in Hawaiian Winter League action. He gave up nine runs and nine hits in 3.1 innings but then struck out 13 and gave up only four hits in his final nine innings to finish 2-2 with a 8.03 ERA.
Wily Peralta: Signed as a free agent in late November 2005, the 6-2, 225-pound righty struggled out of the gate with a 2-5 mark and 6.63 ERA in Arizona in '06. He responded nicely with a 1-1 showing and 3.07 ERA with 36 strikeouts and only eight walks in 29.1 innings at Helena, getting the call to West Virginia late last summer. He went 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA in five innings.
R.J. SeidelThe La Crosse (Wis.) native was taken in the 16th round of 2006 but signed late, thus starting his pro career at Helena in 2007, going 4-0 with a 3.07 ERA. Last summer he finished 9-5 with a 4.51 ERA, starting 25 of his 26 appearances with West Virginia. He struck out 81 in 121.2 innings but struggled in two postseason contests.