Heckathorn has been discussed a lot this week, first by the esteemed Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, and then by our own J.P. Breen. He’s quickly becoming an object lesson in the dangers of writing off a prospect for simply posting unremarkable but never actually bad numbers while maintaining the basic attributes that got scouts’ attention in the first place.
The performance that got everyone talking was his 8 inning, 2 run outing last Wednesday that saw him allow only 4 hits while striking out 7 and walking no one. Thus far in 2012, he’s struck out 37 against only 7 walks in 40 2/3 innings, a major improvement in the swing and miss department. Hitters are also having a harder time elevating against him, and it’s showing up in his GB:FB ratio and his batting average against, both of which are much better than his stint in AA in 2011.
Whether or not Heckathorn can remain in the rotation long term is still an open question. If he does, it will probably be towards the back end, though a move to the pen could have him up quickly and he certainly has the potential to pitch in high leverage situations, especially if his stuff plays up the way rotation-to-pen converts often can. If he continues to produce in AA, a promotion to AAA shouldn’t be too far down the line. From there, anything can happen.
The diminutive second basemen got off to something of a slow start his year, but hit his stride lately, posting a .310/.356/.333 line over the past 10 days which boosted his seasonal numbers up to .286/.306/.390. Considering he just turned 22 earlier this month, just keeping his head above water at AA is a good thing. Long term, Gennett would really benefit from adding some power and taking a few more walks, but just seeing that he can barrel the ball somewhat consistently playing in the Southern League is a positive.
Bianchi was called up to AAA when Edwin Maysonet was promoted to the major leagues earlier in the month, and he’s kept right on hitting since the promotion. Overall this year, he’s hitting a robust .351/.396/.433. Bianchi is 25 years old and was brought in before this season from the Royals’ system presumably mostly for minor league depth. The way things have gone in the Brewers middle infield, though, he may find himself getting a shot at the major leagues before too long if he continues to hit like he has thus far this year.
Since drafting Hall in the 4th round of the 2009 draft, the Brewers have taken their time bringing Hall along slowly and it’s starting to appear as though the effort has paid off. In 13 2/3 innings so far, he’s struck out 13 while walking only 2, is holding opposing batters to a .212 average and has a 1.98 ERA. He has the frame and the stuff to potentially be an inning eating middle to back end starter if everything comes together for him and since he won’t turn 22 until later this year, time is on his side.
Ross was off to a solid start after being sent back to high A Brevard to open 2012, but sadly he won’t have a chance to try and build on it this year. Ross underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, which means we likely won’t see him again until around this time next year. The team loves his determination and attitude, and he’ll need those assets now more than ever as he embarks on rehab in the coming months.
2012 hasn’t gotten off to a good start for Merklinger, who has given up 24 runs in 27 2/3 innings on the young season, and it’s not hard to figure out why. Though he’s still missing bats, he’s also completely missing the strike zone far too often, which has resulted in 18 walks. When the Seton Hall product is on, he can absolutely dominate, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could wind up a situational lefty in the majors at some point down the road if he can ever harness his stuff.
Goforth’s stuff drew rave reviews at Old Miss, which is why it was a bit of a surprise that he fell to the Brewers in the 7th round last year. When letting it go out of the pen, he can approach triple digit velocity, but the Brewers have started him this year and the results have been decidedly middling. The team is probably just starting him short term to give him innings and time to work on his secondary offerings. If and when he’s switched back to the pen, his stuff will probably play up and he could move fast.