Jul 30, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun (8) on deck to bat during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Seven weeks ago I began a weekly series looking back at some of the top farm squads in the history of Brewers baseball, dating back to 1970 when the Seattle Pilots headed northeast from spring training in Arizona and became the Milwaukee Brewers. I have not included short-season Class A or Rookie ball teams, as their seasons are generally too short to compare to full-season squads in A, AA, and AAA levels.
With this week’s edition of Beating the Bushes, I present the #13 team on my list:
"#13 Nashville Sounds, 2007"
The Sounds have been the triple A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers since 2005. In 2007, the Sounds finished first in the American North division with a mark of 89-55, moving on to the semifinal round of the playoffs. There they were knocked out by New Orleans in four games, ending a very solid season.
The team played at Herschel Greer Stadium and drew over 411,000 fans that season. Frank Kremblas was in his third year at the helm of the Sounds. He would go on to manage 14 years and compile a record of 953-936.
The key to the Sounds’ success in 2007 was its pitching staff. They led the Pacific Coast League in all key categories: ERA (3.57), fewest homers allowed (118), and WHIP (1.278). The team also performed well in the field, leading the PCL in fielding average (.984).
The hitting–team-wise–was not as outstanding. They did rank third in home runs (159) and fifth in steals (121), but lagged behind in runs scored with 718 (11th) and batting average with .268 (13th).
Of the 45 players that dressed for the Sounds, 39 of them would play in the major leagues.
Ryan Braun was at his final stop in the minors and only played in 34 games in Music City before moving up to the big club for good in late May. All he has done so far for Milwaukee is earn a Rookie of the Year Award (2007), an MVP Award (2011), five All-Star appearances, while hitting 225 homers and slash 310/371/559. If he can put the drug suspension behind him and stay healthy, he could enter the Hall of Fame in 15 or 20 years.
Yovani Gallardo wasn’t even the best pitcher at Nashville in 2007, battling injury before getting called up to Milwaukee in 2008. In 13 starts at Nashville, he went 8-3 with an ERA of 2.90 and also slugged his first career home run in the pros. In eight years as a Brewer, he has compiled a record of 87-58 and an ERA of 3.69 in over 200 starts.
Lefty twirler Manny Parra performed well in Huntsville before a late-season call-up to Milwaukee. In 17 starts at AA and AAA, he went 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.106 WHIP. His major league career has been up-and-down, with five years spent at Milwaukee until he was signed as a free agent by the Reds. In 268 appearances/74 starts, Parra has won 28 of 64 decisions.
Pitcher Tim Dillard was a spot starter/long reliever for the Sounds, appearing in 34 games and starting 16 of them. His 8-4 record tied him for fourth on the squad in wins. He made the big club in 2008 and spent parts of four years in Milwaukee, pitching in 73 games. After bouncing around at a couple levels, he has resurfaced at AA Huntsville and is pitching quite well. Maybe a September call-up looms?
Southpaw Zach Jackson won 11 games for the Sounds but may be more well-known for this fact: he was traded with three other players to the Cleveland Indians for C.C. Sabathia in July 2008. Jackson pitched in 22 games in parts of three years in the majors, and is currently playing at AAA Syracuse in the Nationals chain.
C: Mike Rivera/J.D. Closser/Vinny Rottino
1B: Andy Abad/Brad Nelson
2B: Callix Crabbe
3B: Joe Dillon
SS: Chris Barnwell
LF: Drew Anderson
CF: Laynce Nix/Charles Thomas
RF: Jose Macias/Laynce Nix
SP: Zach Jackson
SP: R.A. Dickey
SP: Chris Oxspring
SP: Adam Pettyjohn
SP: Tim Dillard/Yovani Gallardo
CL: Luther Hackman
IF THEY JUST COULD HAVE KEPT HIM: R.A. Dickey, P
Robert Allen (R.A.) Dickey was a first round pick in 1996 by the Texas Rangers. He signed late in the fall and did not make his pro debut until 1997, when he pitched for Port Charlotte in the High A Florida State League, where he appeared in only eight games. The following year he saved 38 games for the same team and moved up to AA Tulsa the next season.
He bounced around between AA and AAA before making his major league debut in 2001.
He won 13 games for the Brewers’ Nashville squad in 2007, was named the PCL Pitcher of the Year, yet was granted free agency after the season. (Things that make you go hmmm.)
He pogo’d between the minors and the bigs for every year until 2010, but has been in the majors for the last four years, splitting between the Mets and the Blue Jays.
In 2012, the Tennessee grad had a Cinderella-type season, winning the National League Cy Young Award while winning 20 games for the Mets. The knuckleballer had an ERA of 2.73 and led the league in shutouts (3), complete games (5), innings pitched (233+), and strikeouts (230).
He won 34 games the last two years and is on pace to win 13 this season.
Dickey is not the best pitcher in the world, but for one magical season in 2012, he was.