MILWAUKEE -- A disappointing season at the Major League level produced gains in the Minors, where the Brewers have a new top prospect and two other newcomers to the Top 20, according to MLB.com's updated rankings for each team.Milwaukee's new No. 1 is Jean Segura, the 22-year-old shortstop who was the centerpiece of the July 27 trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels for a trio of prospects. The two pitchers who came with Segura in the deal also made Milwaukee's list: Johnny Hellweg at No. 6 and Ariel Pena at No. 13. "We had to make a decision and turn the page," general manager Doug Melvin said the night of the deal. The trade marked a reversal for Melvin, who had spent the previous years trading away prospects instead of acquiring them. In July 2008, he traded then-top prospect Matt LaPorta to the Indians as part of a package deal for CC Sabathia. In December '10, he sent top prospect Brett Lawrie to the Blue Jays for Shaun Marcum, then traded away four players -- including top pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress -- to get Greinke from the Royals. When it became clear to Melvin that the Brewers would not be contenders this season, he made the decision to trade Greinke and restock the farm. In the eventual deal with the Angels, the Brewers addressed their two biggest areas of need: shortstop and pitching. "We were looking to make the best trade," Melvin said. "If the shortstop was part of it, then it was great. We told ourselves that. ... It was tough at the end. The [Rangers] had a very good offer, but the one piece we had hoped to get, they did not want to give up at the time. It was a very close deal at the end. It's tough going back and forth." Segura has been in the big leagues since early August, and he has performed relatively well. Hellweg will pitch in the Arizona Fall League. More on the Brewers' updated Top 20 Prospects:
Infielder Taylor Green was the only player who acquired the Major League service necessary to graduate from the list, though it was hardly a breakthrough season for him. Coming off a fine 2011 in which he won Organizational Player of the Year honors and entered '12 as the Brewers' No. 5 prospect, Green never gained a footing in the Majors.Green batted .198 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 44 games, and he spent the rest of the season batting .273 with Triple-A Nashville. He will probably have to win a job next season as a bench bat for the Brewers.
Five players near the bottom of the preseason Top 20 list fell off: Outfielder Brock Kjeldgaard, who battled a thumb injury, infielder Eric Farris, pitchers Cody Scarpetta and Santo Manzanillo, and outfielder D'Vontrey Richardson.Scarpetta had Tommy John surgery in May, and Manzanillo was bothered for most of the year by a shoulder injury caused by an offseason auto accident in the Dominican Republic. Richardson never reported to camp, and he said he was walking away from baseball.
Aside from the trio of players picked up in the Greinke trade, catcher Clint Coulter, right-hander Drew Gagnon and outfielder Victor Roache joined the Top 20. Coulter and Roache were selected with back-to-back first-round picks in the '12 First-Year Player Draft, and Gagnon was a third-round pick in '11 out of Long Beach State.In 25 starts between Class A Wisconsin and advanced Class A Brevard County, including one outing for Wisconsin at Miller Park, Gagnon had a 2.83 ERA and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of better than three to one. Coulter played at rookie-level Arizona, batting .302 with five home runs in 49 games. He appears committed to remaining at catcher. Roache has yet to play for the Brewers. He was drafted while rehabbing from a major wrist injury and is on track to participate in Milwaukee's fall instructional program.
brewers' top prospects
The top of the Brewers' Top 20 list remained populated with pitching, though in a slightly different order. Erstwhile No. 1 prospect Wily Peralta slipped to No. 5, and former No. 2 Jed Bradley fell to No. 4. Both had their periods of struggle in '12, though Peralta posted sub-4.00 ERAs in July and August to earn a September callup to the Brewers. He will audition for a spot in next year's Major League rotation.So will fellow right-hander Tyler Thornburg, the new No. 2 Brewers prospect. He was 10-4 with a 3.20 ERA between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville this season, and struck out 113 batters in 112 2/3 innings. Taylor Jungmann, a first-round Draft pick in '11 along with Bradley, held firm at No. 3.
One key player who moved up two spots was first baseman Hunter Morris whose sensational 2012 season for Double-A Huntsville has put him squarely into the Brewers' plans for the coming years. Morris, 23, batted .303 with 28 home runs and 113 RBIs in 136 games with Double-A Huntsville, and was named the Southern League's Most Valuable Player on Monday, becoming the first Huntsville player to win the award since Corey Hart in '03.
Top 100 representation
The Brewers have two representatives in MLB.com's list of the Top 100 prospects in baseball -- Segura at No. 59 and Thornburg at No. 92. Segura actually fell four spots on that list, even though he batted .304 between the Angels' and Brewers' affiliates in '12 before his promotion to the Majors.As a result of the trade, the Brewers jumped from the 28th-best organization in baseball, in terms of its top 100 talent (players were assigned point values, ranging from 1-100, based on their position on the list), to No. 26. Notably, Milwaukee moved ahead of the Angels, who fell 13 slots.