Reid Nichols, the Brewers' director of player development, joined fans online to discuss what's going on with the club's Minor League prospects.
Hi everyone! I look forward to answering your questions today. Let's get started!
jquir34: Can you tell us anything about Cody Hawn? He was impressive last night.
Reid Nichols: Cody played really well last night for Helena in the Pioneer League championship. He hit two home runs to left-centerfield, including a grand slam, and both were no doubters! He's agressive at the plate and had a great showing last night.
polidor4eva: Are there any players, similar to Axford or Kintzler, whom the Brewers have signed recently and are still under the radar, who you think have a chance to really break out next year?
Nichols: We've got some exciting players. Kyle Heckathorn is a player to keep an eye on and Cody Scarpetta has similar stuff to Jeremy Jeffress, not quite the velocity of Jeremy's. Wily Peralta is also a guy that we're excited about his potential.
GormanBraun28: Hey Reid, saw some big steps this season for a lot of minor league pitching prospects. How aggressive will the organization be with Kyle Heckathorn next year, and who would you compare him to in terms of the stuff he throws?
Nichols: As far as how aggressive we'll be with Kyle, we'll look to see where Kyle is at during spring training and what kind of spring training he has. He compares a little bit to a player like Kameron Loe on our big league club.
madlion05: Can you describe a typical day on the job?
Nichols: The first thing I do is listen to my messages from managers and pitching coaches from our minor league clubs. I look through all the boxscores from our minor league teams and check their progress. I spend a good amount of time instructing players on the practice fields. I travel to all the different clubs and watch the games throughout the season. Then the process repeats itself all over again.
UeckerPowell: Any idea what the plan is going to be with Eric Farris with Lawrie likely to take over 2B at Nashville? Nichols: Those are two very talented players and they are the type of things that will work themselves out. Competition is good for everybody. Brett and Eric are both exciting players!
Billies: Jimmy Nelson looked strong this year. Do you see his future as a starter or reliever?
Nichols: I see him projecting as a starter. He's got three impressive pitches and he's another player that we are really excited about.
massbrewer: Will the Brewers take an exciting pitching prospect like this year's 3rd rounder Tyler Thornburg and attempt to develop him as a starter initially despite his 5'11" frame? Hopefully the organization isn't limiting itself to 6'5" starters only.
Nichols: Our general philosophy is that if a player can command three pitches for strikes, then he will have an opportunity to start in our organization.
tfence: I'm curious as to how far away you think our best pitching prospects (Oddorizzi, Peralta, Rogers, Jeffress, Heckathorn, Rivas, etc...) are from contributing at a major league level?
Nichols: All of these players have the opportunity to play next year in the big leagues at some point, depending on their performances next year. As we've seen, Mark Rogers and Jeremy Jeffress had impressive seasons and are now pitching on the big league club.
billyhallmvp06: I imagine a job like yours is pretty cool - do you get to travel around to the Minor League ballparks during the season? Which is your favorite?
Nichols: The most excitement I see from fans is when I travel to Appleton to watch the Timber Rattlers!!! They do a great job with their fans and I enjoy visiting the ballpark. I also really enjoy the excitement and anticipation from our younger players when they arrive at our Maryvale complex and in Helena.
Nichols: All of our minor league affiliates do an exceptional job with our players. It certainly is enjoyable to travel to the different minor league clubs!
massbrewer: Just how tough are the Maryvale conditions for the rookie leaguers in June, July, August? Do you think the conditions sometimes hamper player evaluations?
Nichols: There is no doubt that the conditions are difficult when you're playing in three-digit temperatures every day. But, it is good test for our younger players. We have great facilities and extraordinary staff members that help our minor leaguers.
benderdx: Who was the most talented player you've ever seen coming through the system?
Nichols: I would have to say Ryan Braun. He could get out of bed and hit line drives!
Billies: Is there anyone at Helena that we should be excited to see next year in Appleton?
Nichols: There are going to be a lot of choices to decide from. Helena obviously had a very successful season winning the Pioneer League championship last night and we have some exciting young players in our farm system.
massbrewer: What are your thoughts about the new Dominican complex and the organization's first full DSL squad in many seasons? How many of those kids might be state-side next April?
Nichols: I think everything has worked out really well in with our DSL club. We have a great staff there and Nestor Corredor, a former player in our system, is the manager of the DSL Brewers. The facility works really well there too. Everyone will have an opportunity and it will depend on player performances.
polidor4eva: Do the Brewers still use a checklist of "goals" a player has to achieve before he's promoted?
Nichols: Yes, we do. There is a point-scale system and it deals with their work habits, how they present themselves in the community and obviously how well they perform on the field.
chucknorrisaurus Did you play? Where did you play in the Major Leagues?
Nichols: Yes, I was drafted by Boston and played for the Red Sox, White Sox and Expos organizations during my playing career.
massbrewer: What are the biggest changes you've seen in minor league ball since you were a Red Sox farmhand? Are salaries still about the same, I'm guessing yes...
Nichols: Actually salaries, facilities, traveling, etc. have all improved significantly. You have to remember...that was a long time ago!
Nichols: I'd love to answer all your questions, however, I've got a flight to catch back to Arizona in a few minutes! Thanks for all the great questions. Go Crew!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.