Gord Ash: Regarding Jeffress, we hope to have him active by June 1, and if he stays committed to his plan, there is no physical reason cannot be a Major League player within the next 12-24 months.
aaronw: Gord, the offseason is shaping up to be a busy and exciting one. What does the signing of Rick Peterson do besides fill the spot that sets up the search for some pitchers both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen? Aaron from West Bend.
Gord Ash: The hiring of Rick Peterson not only fills the role of pitching coach but brings a defined overall pitching philosophy to the organization. He will work hand in hand with our Minor League pitching coordinator, Lee Tunnell, and our pitching cross-checker, Jim Rooney, to bring a consistent acquisition-development approach.
excubfan99: In light of your comments earlier this summer, whats the status of the Huntsville Stars?
Gord Ash: The Huntsville Stars remain our Double-A affiliate for the 2010 season. Our player-development contract concludes at the end of the season. I know Miles Prentice, the owner, and GM Buck Rogers are working hard to improve the situation in Huntsville.
Ideally, you like to have a consistency of affiliates, and the geography of Nashville and Huntsville is a very practical advantage for us, but we are also looking for first-class facilities and an enthusiastic fan base to help develop our players.
flipphil: Will Prince Fielder be on the market, and what would a team have to give up in order to get his bat?
Gord Ash: Doug Melvin has already gone on record that Prince Fielder will not be marketed this offseason. Many, many analysts believe trading a middle-of-the-order bat for pitching is too one-sided a proposition, given the high risk of pitching.
flipphil: What are the Brewers doing to draft and develop young arms for the future?
Gord Ash: We mentioned earlier the addition of Rick Peterson, but already in place over the last season has been an in-depth pitching protocol, both in the acquisition and development of young arms. Jim Rooney, our pitching cross-checker, closely examined deliveries for injury risk prior to selection, and Lee Tunnell, our Minor League pitching coordinator, created specific in-season game plans for their development.
We will meet in January in Phoenix with all of our pitching coaches and medical personnel in what I will call a pitching symposium to review and possibly amend our pitching program for 2010.
brewermn: How do the Brewers expect to remain competitive when the organization is known to spend a lot of time grooming home-grown players and not going after talent from other organizations?
Gord Ash: It is imperative for the Brewers to develop a core of our roster. This plan has worked successfully for a number of clubs, especially clubs in the middle-to-lower tier of payrolls. However, there is still opportunity to add to your core through trade and free agency to field the best club possible.
There is no one way to build a championship club. All avenues to improve your club must be explored and utilized, but the foundation remains player development and scouting.
kcathebat: Of the catching prospects currently in your system, who will is the closest to making the big league club?
Gord Ash: We are fortunate to have a couple of strong catching prospects in Angel Salome and Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League and has gotten off to an excellent start. His development is a matter of gaining experience.
Salome had a solid first Triple-A year and continues to improve his handling of pitchers and game calling.
kcathebat: Are there any moves the Brewers can make outside of the draft to add depth to the pitching depth in the Minors?
Gord Ash: On Nov. 1, the Brewers will open a new development academy in the Dominican Republic. While we have, in the past, signed some foreign pitching talent, we have not had the year-round training center that so many of these young pitchers need to develop. Hopefully, this commitment to the development of Latin American talent will allow us to add to our pool of pitching talent.
sherrod: What level are we hoping to see Mark Rogers and Mike Jones finish at in 2010 for it to considered a success?
Gord Ash: Mark Rogers is currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League and is projected to be part of our Double-A staff in 2010. Where he finishes the season will depend on his development through the course of the year. Don't forget that it is now not uncommon to make the jump to the Major Leagues from Double-A as well as Triple-A.
Mike has just re-signed as a Minor League free agent and we'll expect him to compete at a Triple-A level.
bigwayne07: How has Eric Arnett looked in Helena this year?
Gord Ash: Eric threw a lot of pitches during his college season and he was in a very controlled setting in Helena. As a result, his statistical line does not reflect the complete story. The reports were encouraging, and he went on to compete in the Arizona instructional league and is now part of the Brewers' development camp at Maryvale.
lovecrew: Gord, do we have any pitching at all in our farm system that can step up this year to the bigs and make a difference?
Gord Ash: Unfortunately, we have a gap in our next wave of pitching prospects, with most of the talent at the lower levels. However, as we saw in September with John Axford, you can be surprised by the development of young pitchers. Our closest group of pitching is currently participating in the Arizona Fall League: Josh Butler, Mark Rogers, Omar Aguilar, Zach Braddock and Robert Wooten.
ahardybrew: How is Brett Lawrie progressing and will he make the team in the next couple of years?
Gord Ash: Brett Lawrie had a fine first year, culminating in a short Double-A assignment prior to joining Team Canada for the World Cup. He continues to make the transition to the middle of the infield and shows that he will be the type of hitter we believed he would be when selected in the first round of the Draft.
His progress and ultimate placement in 2010 will be determined during Spring Training.
TruBluBrewCrew: As a hardcore fan of the Brewers, I really enjoyed attending the Rattlers' game hosted at Miller Park last season and I wanted to know if the Brewers plan on making this a yearly event at Miller Park?
Gord Ash: Yes, this game is scheduled again for 2010. In fact, in time we would like to broaden this concept to include some of our other Minor League affiliates. Perhaps even a "Futures" type game against another Major League organization in September.
luque: Gord, are the Brewers interested in the Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman, who defected after the World Baseball Classic?
Gord Ash: Chapman has the kind of physical ability that any club would want. However, we have to be realistic that our financial ability to compete in the signing of this kind of free agent is very remote.
bigwayne07: Does Lorenzo Cain have a good chance to be the center fielder next year?
Gord Ash: A year ago, we projected Cain to be a 2010 center-field candidate. Unfortunately, a significant knee injury cost him development time and he is now playing in the Arizona Fall League. At the conclusion of the AFL, we'll make an assessment as to how he fits in for next year.
sfbrew: Without giving away the house, how did Chris Narveson's impressive stretch at the end of the season affect how the Brewers plan to pursue pitching this offseason?
Gord Ash: There is an old adage, "Don't be caught up in performances in Spring Training or September." However, having said that, Chris threw the ball very well as a starter and at the very least provides competition and depth to the starting rotation we hope to have in place.
sherrod: Do you see Kyle Heckathorn as a starter or closer in the majors?
Gord Ash: In the short term, it's important that Kyle gets the innings he needs to work on his development plan. That is best done at this point as a starter. In time, the determination will be made as to how he will best help the Major League club. There are scouts who believe he could be a power closer, but at this time, his development plan is best suited to start.
bigwayne07: Who is the prospect who has really impressed you this year?
Gord Ash: There are several, as I believe our Minor League system continues to reload after graduating so many prospects to the big leagues over the last few years. One player stood out during the instructional league: D'Vontrey Richardson, an outfielder from Florida. Richardson was a college football player, but also has a baseball background. His athleticism made a lot of scouts take notice. He makes consistent contact, can really run and seems to make the quick adjustments.
It was enjoyable to talk baseball and I look forward to doing it again soon.