Quick Hits: Lucroy, Latin America, Top Prospects | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

LUCROY EXCELS AT FRAMING

Catcher Jonathan Lucroy has been known over the past couple of seasons for his ability to effectively frame pitches and garner more strike calls for his pitchers than the average catcher, but this article by Mike Fast gives us a more quantifiable snapshot of his framing skills.

The article ranks Lucroy as the fourth-best catcher in all of baseball in the past four years — though if one goes by the R/120G instead, he actually ranks as the second-best catcher at framing pitches. In fact, he is statistically better than the great Yadier Molina at framing pitches behind the plate. You can be sure that the Brewers’ young pitching staff greatly benefits from having a skilled backstop like Lucroy as their regular battery-mate.

Consistent with my opinion that Ryan Doumit is the worst-defensive catcher that I have seen in the past half-decade, the former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher ranks dead last at -26 runs per 120 games.

Seeing where Martin Maldonado ranks next year will be extremely interesting because his receiving skills behind the plate have inspired rave reviews since his days in the minor leagues.

SHAKE UP IN LATIN AMERICA

ESPN’s Keith Law mentioned in a chat earlier this season that some slight rumors were circling about that said the Brewers’ front office or scouting department could experience some changes this offseason.

This week, the Brewers announced an overhaul of their international scouting operation. Manny Bautista will now serve as the organization’s Latin America scouting director and Eduardo Brizuela has been promoted Director of Latin America Operations/Scouting.

Bautista has been with the Brewers since 2010, but came from the Texas Rangers’ organization where he was integral in their acquisition of international free agents such as Edwin Encarnacion, Juan Gonzalez, Martin Perez, and Ivan Rodriguez. He will hopefully bring those established relationships with buscones in Latin America to his new position and put the Brewers’ organization in a better position to succeed in the market.

Brizuela, according to the above article, will have the following responsibilities:

Brizuela, 26, joined the Brewers in 2009 as an intern in advance scouting and has been the team’s coordinator of administration. Brizuela helped the Brewers with their Dominican academy that opened in November 2011. He will take on additional scouting responsibilities and help the team’s Latin American players transition to the United States.

The culture shift from Latin America to the United States is a vastly underrated factor in the success of international free agents. It’s great to see the organization take such an institutional approach in addressing this factor.

While simply restructuring the international scouting operations does not necessarily mean increased effectiveness and success in that market will follow, it does signify that Milwaukee is re-investing their resources into that sector. Remember that the Brewers were the only organization in Major League Baseball not to have a Dominican facility between 2003 and early 2009. They have since opened a modern facility near Santo Domingo — the capital of the Dominican Republic — and have now restructured their international scouting operations to better facilitate their involvement in the international free agent market.

Results surely matter. So does intent, though, and the Brewers clearly have an intent to increase their international presence, which is music to this writer’s ears.

TOP PROSPECTS BY MINOR LEAGUE LEVELS

Baseball America has begun their annual series, in which they rank the Top 20 Prospects per minor league level. Unfortunately, the Brewers have not been well-represented in the rankings. That provides further evidence that the organization still lacks elite talent in their farm system — despite the impressive amount of depth they have acquired and developed in recent years.

Here are some of the highlights:

Arizona League:  (10) Clint Coulter, C
Pioneer League:  N/A
Midwest League:  N/A
Florida State League:  (16) Jimmy Nelson, RHP
Southern League:  (16) Tyler Thornburg, RHP

That’s not a ringing endorsement of the Brewers’ farm system. Some mentioned to me that they were surprised that right-hander Taylor Jungmann didn’t make the cut in the Florida State League, but recent concerns surrounding his inability to miss bats has caused his stock to drop for many scouts.

Baseball America hasn’t released their Top 20 Prospects for the Pacific Coast League, but it seems extremely likely that right-hander Wily Peralta will make the cut. Center fielder Logan Schafer could slide into the back-end of the list, too, though that’s much more of a stretch.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Luke says: October 11, 2012

    I’m surprised that Lucroy was never a top 100 prospect, when looking at his minor league performance from age 20 on. Coulter seems like he could move up the system quickly so hopefully he keep improving on defense enough to be able to do so. See if he can play 3B.

    • Ross B says: October 11, 2012

      I think he was overshadowed most of his time in the minors by Angel Salome. If not for Salome’s off the field issues, Lucroy probably would not have gotten the call to the big leagues when Zaun got hurt in 2010.

      • Luke says: October 11, 2012

        In the eyes of the Brewers brass he was certainly overshadowed. But neither Salome or Lucroy ever gained top 100 status despite hitting well above average as catchers. Salome was probably more highly regarded because he had more pop than Lucroy at the time, but Lucroy’s defense was always stronger from what I’ve heard (and minor league CS% too).

        • Ross B says: October 12, 2012

          This is true. Lucroy was most likely downgraded because he didn’t hit for any power in the upper minors and carried a high BABIP, both making it seem like his bat wasn’t going to transition to the major leagues. The tough part about looking at Lucroy’s defense though is that his biggest strength is framing pitches, but that is a very new avenue for statistical analysis.

          • Luke says: October 12, 2012

            Definitely. I was pretty much just referring to his minor league fielding % and CS over Salome’s. The pitch framing just makes him incredibly valuable now.

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