WTNYOctober 06, 2003
Organization Reports Begin
By Bryan Smith

CUBS WIN! This was definitely one of the great weekends in baseball history, marked with some great Marlin and Red Sox wins, and the Cubs first postseason series win in 95 years. Baseball is on a huge upswing, and I think we'll remember the Division Series as more fun than the World Series.

One quick divisional series note: I think Pudge's great series likely sealed his fate to stay a Marlin, and Jose Cruz should land on the free agent market as a result of his horrid play.

The next three weeks I will do organziational reports, in order of my rankings. These reports will include organization records, prospect rankings, draft performance, and my own analysis. Today, I'll debut with the Brewers and Blue Jays. Enjoy...

#1 Organization- Milwaukee Brewers

Overall Minor League record: 322-365 (.469)
AAA Indianapolis- 64-78
AA Huntsville- 75-63
A+ High Desert- 42-98
A- Beloit- 75-61
SS- Helena- 48-28
R-League- Brewers- 18-37

Awards and League Recognitions
Southern League (AA) MVP- Corey Hart- 3B
Midwest League (A-) MVP- Prince Fielder- 1B
Pioneer League (SS) MVP- Lou Palmisano- C

Top 5 Draft Picks Performance
1- Richie Weeks- .349/.494/.556 10XBH 15BB/9K in 63 low-A at-bats (2B)
2- Tony Gwynn Jr.- .280/.364/.326 9XBH 32BB/31K in 236 low-A at-bats (OF)
3- Lou Palmisano- .391/.458/.592 21XBH 18BB/29K in 174 SS at-bats (C)
4- Charlie Fermaint- .300/.327/.420 7XBH 3BB/19K in 100 R-League at-bats (OF)
5- Bryan Opdyke- .272/.364/.388 10XBH 16BB/25K in 103 R-League at-bats (C)

Organizational Report
It wasn't long ago that the Brewers were the most laughable franchise in all of baseball. All that has changed, thanks to the new Doug Melvin regime. The team has used high draft picks well, as the last five picks (Sheets, Jones, Krynzel, Fielder, Weeks) all play large roles in the team's future.

I believe the Brewers are taking the same path the Minnesota Twins did five years ago, letting prospects take over the field. This Milwaukee organization has prospects at every position, along with more than enough pitching depth. They are also starting to take the OBP-approach to drafting, as seen by the high OBP and BB/K ratios of their top five draft picks. It's also interesting to note that the club's first five picks were all hitters, as Melvin has realized drafting pitchers is simply a crapshoot.

While the organization didn't finish .500 as a whole, the center of attention should be on the AA and low-A franchises. The Southern League Huntsville team was solid all-around, housing prospects Brad Nelson, J.J. Hardy, Corey Hart, Dave Kynzel, Mike Jones, Ben Hendrickson, Luis Martinez, and Ben Diggins. The Midwest League Beloit team was solid as well, and Prince Fielder, Richie Weeks, Anthony Gwynn, and Manny Parra were the big names there. Much of the team's prospects will debut in 2004, and the team should be completely prospect-laden in 2005.

Next year will be a transition season for the club, mixing veterans while trying to incorporate youngsters. This season the club discovered Scott Podsednik, Dan Kolb, and Matt Ford, all of whom play roles in the future. There are many rumors the team will deal Richie Sexson in the offseason, largely to make room for Brad Nelson and later Prince Fielder. Oft-injured Geoff Jenkins will stay, as the organization's one weakness seems to be corner outfielders. Ben Sheets will make a large amount of money next year, and must prove why he was drafted before Barry Zito.

By finishing the Major League season with a 68-94 record, the Brewers will have either the fifth or sixth pick in the 2004 Amateur Draft. The team will likely target advanced pitchers and corner outfielders, two areas of need. I love the way they've drafted the last five years, which is a great sign for Bud Selig and company.

Look for the team to debut Mike Jones, J.J. Hardy, Dave Krynzel, Corey Hart, and Brad Nelson next season, possibly topping Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in the NL Central. But, this team's future will be in 2007, long after Prince Fielder succeeds. It's also interesting to note that much of the club's success will be after Bud Selig leaves the Commissioner Office and regains control of the organization. Conspiracy? I think not.

Top 12 Prospects
1. Prince Fielder- 1B- More power than anyone in the minor leagues
2. Richie Weeks- 2B- Second basemen with a third basemen's bat
3. J.J. Hardy- SS- Will be solid 20/20 player in the Majors
4. Brad Nelson- 1B/OF- 40HR or flame-out potential
5. Mike Jones- RHP- One of best curveballs in minors, but injury risk
6. Manny Parra- LHP- Underrated left-hander prospect
7. Corey Hart- 3B- Former first basemen has converted well, doubles power
8. Dave Krynzel- CF- Kenny Lofton comparisons unfair, but solid leadoff potential
9. Luis Martinez- LHP- One of minors largest breakout stories
10. Lou Palmisano- C- Third-Round steal?
11. Ben Hendrickson- RHP- Huge potential if he rebounds from injury
12. Anthony Gwynn- OF- Brewers taking family blood into account

#2 Organization- Toronto Blue Jays

Overall Minor League Record: 370-327 (.591)
AAA Syracuse- 62-79
AA New Haven- 79-63
A+ Dunedin- 78-62
A- Charleston- 57-76
SS Auburn- 56-18
R-League Pulaski- 38-29

Awards and League Recognition
Eastern League MVP- Alexis Rios
New York-Pennsylvania MVP- Vito Chiaravolloti

Top 5 Draft Picks Performance
1- Aaron Hill- .361/.446/.492 in 122 SS AB and .286/.343/.345 in 119 low-A AB (SS)
2- Joshua Banks- 7-2 2.43 58H/66.2IP 81K/10BB in 15 SS starts (RHP)
3- Shaun Marcum- 1-0 1.32 15H/34IP 47K/7BB in 21 SS relief appearances (RHP)
4- Ken Isenberg- 7-2 1.63 40H/60.2IP 57K/19BB in 13 SS starts (LHP)
5- Justin James- 2-1 3.20 34H/39.2IP 42K/11BB in 13 SS appearances, 8 starts (RHP)

Organizational Report
To succeed in the high-spending AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays are going to need to utilize drafts and trades to milk the most out of their organization. Locking up former Billy Beane right-hand man J.P. Riccardi was a great start.

The Jays youth movement has already begun at the Major League level, with Josh Phelps, Orlando Hudson, Eric Hinske, Vernon Wells, and others leading the way. The team lacks pitching at the Major League level, and locking up Roy Halladay and Kelvim Escobar have become top priorities as a result. As was the team's pitching-laden draft, drafting four hurlers with their top five picks.

An interesting note is the team's top three prospects, Guillermo Quiroz, Alexis Rios, and Dustin McGowan are not the types of players Riccardi would normally employ. But it was the former front-office that liked catchers (Werth, Cash), athletic high school outfielders (Stewart, Wells), and high-school pitchers (Halladay). These three players are the future of this team, while Riccardi is quick to point to his prospects, like Russ Adams and Jason Arnold.

Riccardi pointed to 2004 as an important season for his club, as it will likely be the team's final with slugger Carlos Delgado. The lineup will likely start to mix in prospects Kevin Cash, Gabe Gross, and Arnold, while placing their hopes on the shoulders of Delgado, Wells, and Halladay. It's unlikely this team will compete next year, probably falling behind the high-spending Orioles. But once their host of young pitching hits the Majors, watch out.

Top 12 Prospects
1. Guillermo Quiroz- C- Forget collapsed lung, Quiroz has it all
2. Alexis Rios- CF- Legitimate batting crown potential
3. Dustin McGowan- RHP- Should hit Majors in big way in 2004
4. Aaron Hill- SS- Riccardi's boy, huge pick
5. Brandon League- RHP- Numbers haven't caught up with potential
6. David Bush- RHP- Numbers are way over his potential
7. Gabe Gross- OF- Rebounded from disappointing 2002 campaign
8. Russ Adams- 2B/SS- Should be a solid, Knoublach-like player
9. Kevin Cash- C- Needs a big year in 2004, but gold glove potential
10. Jason Arnold- RHP- Dominated AA, but struggled after promotion
11. Joshua Banks- RHP- Leads the way for dominating Auburn pitching
12. Vito Chiaravollito- 1B- I don't care if skills aren't there, he won the Triple Crown
HM- Note that former top prospect Francisco Rosario is returning in 2004, and should re-emerge as a big-time prospect.

That's all for now folks...