Brewers veterans Tony Graffanino and Craig Counsell looked every bit like a righty-lefty third base platoon as bench coach Dale Sveum threw them batting practice Friday morning, but it was prospect Ryan Braun who was getting all the attention.
"He has as good a chance as anybody," said Sveum after watching the 6-foot-2, 210-pound righty spray deep flies to all fields at Brewers camp in Maryvale, Ariz. Though it's early, so far Braun is showing good offensive skill, Sveum said.
GM Doug Melvin agreed, discounting any thoughts that Braun was being disrespected by being given a lowly No. 75 jersey. "He's going to get a good long look," Melvin told www.MLBnewsonline.com.
Just 23, Braun is a legitimate five-too threat who initially had been ticketed for 2008. But 33-year-old third base incumbent Corey Koskie is showing prolonged effects of post concussive syndrome, with knowledgable observers offering a grim prediction that the $3.5 million a year former Twin is finished. Though Koskie is in camp, he has been unable to take the field, and likely will miss opening day and beyond.
Braun is fresh off the Arizona Fall League, where he punished second tier pitching with a .326 batting average and six homers in 111 at-bats. He has the potential to be the surprise of Cactus League camps, and may have a shot a rookie of the year. Then again, he has the potential to be overhyped, too. Observers say he has a ways to go before the quality of his defense catches up to his bat.