CHICAGO -- Eight Brewers prospects were named to the prestigious Arizona Fall League on Wednesday, with one very intriguing "TBA" still to be settled. The Brewers' final slot could go to Mat Gamel, Milwaukee's Opening Day first baseman who suffered a season-ending knee injury on May 1. First, the Brewers would have to be granted an exception because Gamel's Major League service exceeds what AFL rules allow. Then, he would have to be healthy enough to play. It will be a close call, and the Brewers have another player in mind to fill that Phoenix Desert Dogs roster spot if it does not go to Gamel.
Assistant general manager Gord Ash said Gamel was right on schedule in his rehabilitation from a torn ACL. He is expected to resume baseball activities in September, and could travel with the Brewers during their final road trip of the season. The club's other AFL participants are right-handers Nick Bucci, Kyle Heckathorn, Johnny Hellweg, Santo Manzanillo and Jimmy Nelson; first baseman Hunter Morris and outfielders Khris Davis and Brock Kjeldgaard. "I think it's the best group we've had in a long time," Ash said. Many of those players -- Bucci, Manzanillo and Kjeldgaard in particular, and Davis to a lesser degree -- will use the AFL to make up for innings or at-bats lost to regular-season injuries. Manzanillo and Kjeldgaard are members of the taxi squad, meaning they are only eligible on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Ash noted that many taxi squad players wind up on the regular roster as others drop out because of injuries or workload limits. Kjeldgaard won't report to the AFL until after a stint with Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Germany. Manzanillo is particularly in need of innings after a lingering right shoulder injury suffered in an offseason auto accident marred his season. The Brewers were very optimistic about Manzanillo, a hard-throwing relief prospect. "He was less than forthright with us in Spring Training when he said it felt great, when it didn't," Ash said. "He finally had to give it up about early July, I guess." Morris might be the best of the Brewers' AFL bunch. He entered Wednesday batting .294 with 25 home runs and 104 RBIs in 132 games at Double-A Huntsville. "He wants to play, and any time you have a guy who is willing to play more, you try to accommodate him," Ash said. Morris will continue his work with Huntsville manager Darnell Coles, who is serving as the Desert Dogs' hitting coach.