Drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft (16th overall), Brett Lawrie appears primed to be a future fixture in the Milwaukee Brewers’ batting order. He certainly posted an eye opening Double-A campaign:
554 At Bats
.285 Batting Average (158 Hits)
8 Home Runs
30 Stolen Bases
.346 On Base Percentage
.451 Slugging Percentage
.350 Batting Average on Balls in Play
It is a solid line. As you look into it, there is a lot more then meets the eye, however. Just look at the extra base hits. On top of his eight home runs, Lawrie added 36 doubles and 16 triples.
No other Southern League player had more then 11 triples. In fact, no other player in Double or Triple-A had more then 12 triples.
There is power in his bat. Prior to the 2010 season when they ranked him second in the Brewers system, Baseball America said, “With strong hands and the quickest bat in the system, he drives the ball to all fields.”
He hit 13 HR in 372 AB at low Single-A in 2009. With that total and his extra base power he showed in 2010, there certainly is reason to believe that the power is going to come in time. Keep in mind that he is still just 20-years old (he’ll turn 21 in January).
Power and speed. That’s a great combination for a middle infielder, but there are things to be worried about.
The strikeouts are a concern, as is his plate discipline in general. He posted a 21.3% strikeout rate and a 7.8% walk rate, both numbers that he needs to improve upon if he wants to succeed in the Major Leagues. While the power is likely going to be there, right now he looks to be a top of the order bat.
However, against tougher competition, both rates could go in the wrong direction. With an increase in strikeouts you are going to see a decrease in his average. Even with speed, there is little chance that he can better his .350 BABIP. That is a huge concern.
He also needs to improve his ability against right-handed pitchers in general. In 2010 he hit .266 with 97 Ks in 402 AB (24.1% strikeout rate). He also had a slugging percentage of .415.
Against southpaws he hit .336 with 21 Ks in 152 AB (13.8% strikeout rate). He had a slugging percentage of .546.
That screams of platoon potential. Then again, there is no real guarantee where he’s going to play. Second base is clearly blocked by Rickie Weeks for the time being. There’s a chance he could convert into an outfielder, but it’s going to take time for him to learn the position.
Of course, while he has speed, there is also the fact that the Brewers don’t seem to utilize the running game very often (the same issue we had when discussing Alcides Escobar prior to 2010). However, if there is a change at the managerial position, those philosophies could change.
The concerns are certainly big enough to have doubts on what he can do in 2011. He’s likely going to open the year at Triple-A and may just be an injury away from making an impact. Of course, unless he improves on the issues, it could be a tough debut.
Still, at a weaker position, he’s a player that we certainly should keep close tabs on for the upcoming campaign. You never know, but right now he appears to be a low-end option, at best, for 2011.
What are your thoughts on Lawrie? Could he make an impact in 2011? What type of numbers do you expect from him?
Make sure to check out our other Prospect Reports as we wrap up 2010 and head towards 2011: