In a less than surprising move, the Brewers signed 7 “youngsters” to the 40 man roster. Four of the seven players are pitching prospects. Mat Gamel is a part of the “League of Seven”, along with infielder Eric Farris, and catching prospect Martin Moldanado. I knew that Maldonado would be put on the roster (see my rant about the signing of Wil Nieves). All three of these guys should have a fairly decent shot at making the opening day roster. In my opinion, Farris is the longest shot. If Gamel and Maldonado can duplicate their Triple-A numbers, there is no doubt they will make the team.
The remaining four members of the “League of Seven” are; right-handers Justin James, Wily Peralta and Cody Scarpetta, along with left-hander Dan Merklinger. Reality check, none of these four will make the opening day roster. Peralta could be on the roster by the end of the season, but only if Parra lights up the Miller Park night sky with his usual array of dumpster pitches. Then I could foresee Peralta filling the long reliever spot by September. Scarpetta and Merklinger do not have enough experience to make the free-standing leap to the majors.
Justin James could be an interesting player to watch during the spring. With 8 seasons of minor league ball under his belt, one would suspect that he is ready to take the next step. His best statistical time in the minor leagues, was while he was up in Triple-A. He has some pretty solid walk to strikeout numbers, 7.5 K’s per 9 innings versus 2.7 walks. JJ features a upper 80’s fastball, a solid changeup (scout.com says it’s his best pitch), and a curve ball that is not quite ready for major league batters yet. It is possible that he could find himself a spot in the rotation if he has a nice spring.
Eric Farris should be fun to watch. This is a very important spring training for him. Let’s be real for a second, Rickie Weeks might not be back next season and Craig Counsell has yet to create a time machine that can make him less old. Farris can really put himself in a good position for next season by showing off his proven defensive skills. He is a very consistent hitter, but has little to no power. One of his strong suits, is stealing bases. New skipper Ron Roenicke has said that the team will run a lot this season, so that could bode very well for Mr. Farris.
Tom Haudricort, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, suspects that each member of the “League of Seven” signed a split contract. All that means is, they will make a certain amount of money if they are in the majors and a different amount if the play in the minors. None of these guys are shoe-ins to make the opening day roster, but they all have an opportunity to make a name for themselves. Gamel needs to step up this year, otherwise I think it is time to cut the umbilical cord with this kid. He would probably make some nice trade bait for us before the All-Star break otherwise. The time has come Mat, there is an opening in CF and probably SS. Better strap on the big boy pants and show the new boss what you can do.
I will be watching Maldonado because he was my surprise pick to make the roster back in December. His Triple-A numbers from last season are very impressive. It doesn’t hurt him that Catcher is probably the weakest position on this roster. If Marty can show some chemistry with his pitchers and continue his development in the batters box, he will be on the roster very soon.
Until next time, I wish that I was at Brewers On Deck. If anyone reading this is going, please rub it in. I want to know every detail, even if it is very painful for me to hear.