MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 13: Marco Estrada #41 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on August 13, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mark Hirsch/Getty Images)
Rookies on the 2011 Playoff Teams: Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers relied primarily on veterans for their playoff run, but a few rookies from the relatively thin farm system received trials and could contribute in 2012.
Marco Estrada, RHP: 28-year-old rookie originally drafted by the Nationals in the sixth round in 2005 from Long Beach State. Performed yeoman work this year, with a 4.08 ERA and an 88/29 K/BB in 93 innings, starting seven games in addition to relieving in 36. Diverse arsenal with 90 MPH fastball, curve, changeup, plus a few cutters and sliders. A useful utility pitcher.
Eric Farris, 2B: 25 years old, a fourth-round pick in 2007 from Loyola Marymount, hit .271/.317/.372 this year for Triple-A Nashville with 21 steals. He received one at-bat in the majors. He's fast and has a good glove, but lack of power and a weak batting eye limit his bat. He could get a shot as a utility player.
Mike Fiers, RHP: 26-year-old drafted in the 22nd round in 2009 from Nova Southeastern University. Spectacular minor league season: 13-3, 1.86 ERA, 132/36 K/BB in 126 innings, just 83 hits allowed in Double-A/Triple-A. Threw two shutout innings in the majors in September. Fiers has an average fastball, but his changeup is very strong and his curveball has its moments. He could become an inning-eating starter or long reliever.
Taylor Green, 3B: 24-year-old infielder, can play second and third, hit .336/.412/.580 with 22 homers and 37 doubles in 431 at-bats in Triple-A. Hit .270/.270/.351 in 37 major league at-bats. A 25th round pick in 2005 from Cypress Community College, Green has average tools but features a clean swing that generated unexpected power this year. He won't be a star but he adds depth to a roster that could lose Prince Fielder next year.
Brandon Kintzler, RHP: Signed out of the independent American Association in 2010, Kintzler is 27 years old, throws hard, and posted a sharp 15/3 K/BB in 15 major league innings this year to go with a 3.68 ERA. However, he missed most of the season with a stress fracture in his forearm that required insertion of a screw. If healthy he could help in the bullpen next year.
Martin Maldonado, C: A 25-year-old Puerto Rican catcher originally drafted by the Angels in the 27th round in 2004, Maldonado was signed as a free agent by the Brewers in '07. He hit .287/.373/.436 in 342 at-bats in Double-A/Triple-A this year, then got one September at-bat in the majors. He's a good defender and has thrown out 42% of runners in his career. He could be a useful reserve catcher down the line.
Mike McClendon, RHP: Drafted in the 10th round in 2006 from Seminole Community College, McClendon posted a 3.53 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB in 59 innings in Triple-A, and a 2.63 ERA with a 10/3 K/B in 14 major league innings. A sinker specialist, he also uses a slider, curve, and palmball. He should compete for a relief spot next year.
Logan Schafer, OF: A sports hernia cost Schafer almost all of 2010, but he returned in '11 and hit .315/.385/.439 with 16 steals in 394 at-bats between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. He went 1-for-3 in the majors during a September trial. 25 years old, Schafer is a very good defensive outfielder, runs well, and has some gap power. He could be very useful on the bench.