Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ryan Braun Starts Out With Bang, In Fact Several

Watching Craig Counsell, 36, and Tony Graffanino, 34, take turns in the batting cage at the Brewers spring camp in Maryvale, Ariz., one comes away with a vague impression of two grownups stepping aside from time to time to let their kid brother Ryan Braun, 22, take a couple of swings.

Not surprising, considering that Braun was only five years old when Graffanino turned professional, and just seven when Counsell came up. But the last few days have dispelled any notion as to just exactly whom of the three is really the big boy.

Launching what the Milwaukee Journal called a "blast from the future," Braun, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound package of speed and power, drove in the final of his seven RBI Thursday with a spectacular grand slam, following his single, double, and three-run homer, making three homers for the spring campaign with another one Friday. He's batting .600.

Okay, okay, it's early. Braun won't bat .600 the rest of the way. Maybe only .500. But with whispers circulating through camp that incumbent third baseman Corey Koskie very likely will be unable to come back from post concussive syndrome, no wonder Braun finds himself listed ahead of the projected third base platoon of Counsell and Graffanino on the the team's official depth chart.

With only defensive limitations to stop him, don't be surprised if Braun continues to bound ahead to become what many are foreseeing not only as a potential top contender for Rookie of the Year, but maybe even as the next Mike Schmidt.