In this edition of the Farm Report we're going to go a little different direction. Why? Because I had a chance recently to go to a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game and actually scout some of these highly touted prospects. Unfortunately, Brett Lawrie was not in the lineup for the game I attended, he was on his way to St. Louis for the All Star Futures game (in which he doubled).
Let me start by saying Fox Cities Stadium (or Time Warner Field as it is now known) is one of the nicest venues in Minor League baseball. The stadium is set up well, there are no bad seats and the environment is excellent. Also, there is a nice big parking lot for those fans who tailgate (which we did, steak sandwiches... delicious).
Beer is cheap, although I had to show two forms of idea since I am currently a Minnesota resident; tickets are also inexpensive and there is a good selection of souvenirs in the fan store, but enough about the stadium, on to the prospects. By the way the T-Rats lost 3-1.
Evan Frederickson - LHP - Frederickson (right) got the starting nod in the game. He was drafted in the supplemental first round, 35th overall, last season. He's 6'6", and has a good presence on the mound. From what scouting reports I could find he supposedly features a low 90's fastball topping out at 95. I beg to differ. The big lefty didn't break 90 on the gun the whole game and his fastball topped out at a pedestrian 88 MPH. When you're throwing that soft you need good command, something else he lacked.
Overall Frederickson was unimpressive and left a lot to be desired, on this particular night he gave up five hits, walked a pair and gave up all three runs. His season WHIP is terrible (1.77) and he looks destined for another year of A-ball. A lefty with his size will get plenty of chances.
Brock Kjeldgaard - 1B/LF - A big left-handed hitter, Kjeldgaard (above) is still very raw offensively. He was drafted in 2005 as a pitcher, and was converted to offense before last season. He plays a good first base and has the range to play in the outfield. On this night he was in the lineup as the first baseman. He did go 1 for 3 for the T-Rats and drove in the only run that the Home Team scored.
There's a lot to like about Kjeldgaard, he's 6'4", left-handed and leads the team in home runs. He's also hitting just .220 and leads the team in strikeouts so there is work to be done. But how could you not root for a guy with a name like that?
Wily Peralta - RHP - Where Frederickson failed to deliver, Peralta (left) was spectacular. At 6'2", 225 he's not a big guy but he has a huge arm. His fastball was consistently at 95 MPH, mix in a 78 MPH offspeed pitch and 84 MPH breaking ball and he had hitters guessing. Peralta pitched three innings in the game and struck out three.
Peralta has 89 strikeouts on the season, which is fourth in the Midwest League. By comparison though, the three pitchers ahead of him have pitched at least 18 more innings. What will have to be determined is whether or not he can command three pitches well enough to be a starter, or if he will end up as a reliever. Peralta has had some injury problems in his past too, he missed the 2007 season due to injury.
Lorenzo Cain - CF - You've probably heard of Cain (right) by now, the heir apparant to Mike Cameron in Center field for the Brew Crew. Cain had a knee injury early in the season and has been rehabbing with Wisconsin before, presumably, being sent to Huntsville(AA) or even Nashville(AAA).
He looked good, with four very good at bats. He singled and doubled in the game and played the field for the full nine innings, which says a lot about how his knee is doing. He didn't look tentative in the batter's box either, putting good swings on the ball. He's not quite %100 but he is very, very close.
Recap - If you haven't been to a Rattlers game you should go, especially with some of the Brewers top prospects playing there. It's a great place to watch a game and you'll have a good chance to see a win. Wisconsin is 11-7 in the second half and 45-43 overall. They have a few other players to watch for as well, including pitchers Cody Scarpetta and Trey Watten and hitters Corey Kemp and of course Brett Lawrie.