The Brewers haven’t been overly active this offseason, but they added some outfield depth at Triple-A Nashville on Friday by signing former Rockies prospect Cole Garner to a minor-league deal without an invitation to big-league camp this spring.
Garner can handle both outfield corners and is most readily-known for his former power potential. In fact, while with the Rockies’ organization, he was repeatedly compared to Matt Holliday by members of the front office. An old article from The Denver Post has more on that:
Garner, an outfielder in his fourth season in the Rockies’ organization, has even gotten used to being looked at as another Holliday by team officials, due to his power potential. They point to his 19 home runs and .302 batting average in 2006 at Single-A Asheville.
“He’s a scout’s dream,” said Marc Gustafson, the Rockies’ director of player development. “He can hit a baseball as far as anyone. He opens your eyes.”
“Ever since I signed with the Rockies, they’ve been comparing me to him,” Garner said. “That’s not a bad thing.”
Unfortunately, that promise has never translated into big league success. He’s struggled with injuries throughout his career, and he has only played in 114 games over the past two seasons with the Rockies and Yankees organizations. However, in his last full season in 2010, he hit .304/.374/.520 with 13 home runs for Triple-A Colorado Springs. So some talent at the plate is obviously present, but the fact that Milwaukee didn’t even bother to invite him to big-league camp should temper that excitement.
The Brewers have plenty of depth in the outfield, anyway, with Logan Schafer, Caleb Gindl, Khris Davis, and even Josh Prince knocking on the door for the fourth and fifth outfielder roles in the coming seasons. Garner doesn’t figure to displace any of them on the organizational depth chart.
However, minor league teams need veteran leadership and also strive to win games. Cole Garner should certainly provide some veteran leadership to some of the younger players in Triple-A Nashville, and he could potentially help the Nashville Sounds win ballgames if he can prove healthy for an entire season.
File this one away as minor-league depth. Still, it’s a noteworthy signing because few outfield hitters have the power potential to be compared to Matt Holliday, even if that potential has never been reached to this point in his career.