CINCINNATI -- After breezing through the rookie Pioneer League last season, Brewers pitching prospect Tyler Thornburg is doing the same in the Class A Midwest League in 2011.Thornburg, a hard-throwing, six-foot right-hander who has drawn comparisons to Giants ace Tim Lincecum, owns the third-best ERA (1.31) among qualifying pitchers in all of Minor League baseball. Only Rays Triple-A pitcher Alex Cobb (1.14) and Cardinals Class A prospect Kevin Siegrist (1.15) have been better. On Sunday, Thornburg became the first Wisconsin Timber Rattlers pitcher to toss a nine-inning, complete-game shutout since current Mariners phenom Michael Pineda did it on Sept. 1, 2008, in the final game of Seattle's affiliation with the team. Pineda struck out 14 batters in that game, and allowed only one hit. Thornburg was not quite that good at Kane County, but he was impressive nonetheless. He struck out eight, didn't walk a batter and scattered five hits -- only one to the outfield -- in a 2-0 win. He has yet to lose a decision in nine starts. The Brewers typically take a conservative approach in advancing prospects to the next level of the Minor League chain. That's their approach with Thornburg, 22, the team's third-round pick in last year's Draft out of Charleston Southern University. "One of our criteria for advancement is being better than the league, and it has to be demonstrated over time," Brewers player development director Reid Nichols wrote in an e-mail. The Brewers want Midwest League pitchers to show command of the fastball to both sides of the plate, and an ability to throw offspeed pitches for strikes, and between 10-15 percent changeups with command. "His progress and game plan are being discussed," Nichols said. "We are working very hard to get pitching to Milwaukee, but we want them to stay when they get there. Our ultimate goal is to mold a perennial All-Star."
Rehabbing Braddock nearing return
CINCINNATI -- Brewers left-handed reliever Zach Braddock pitched a second consecutive night for Triple-A Nashville on Wednesday, and club officials will discuss whether to reinstate him from the disabled list as early as Friday in Florida.Braddock has been on the 15-day DL since May 3 getting treatment for a sleep disorder. His rehab hit a roadblock when he split the middle fingernail on his left hand warming up for a Class A appearance on May 23. He's since made three appearances for Nashville. Braddock walked three batters Tuesday night in two-thirds of an inning, but Sounds reliever Donovan Hand stranded the runners. On Wednesday, Braddock walked another batter but pitched a scoreless inning. With Braddock, Mitch Stetter (hip) and Manny Parra (elbow) all on the DL, the Brewers have been without a left-hander in the bullpen since May 17. That may have hurt them Wednesday in Cincinnati, as right-hander Kameron Loe surrendered a game-winning home run to left-handed Reds slugger Joey Votto. Utility man Erick Almonte is also with Nashville, working his way back from a concussion. He is 2-for-10 in his first five games with the Sounds including a pinch-hit walk Wednesday night.
Braun considers Lucroy an All-Star contender
CINCINNATI -- Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was the Brewers' player of the month for May after leading the club with 20 RBIs. Teammate Ryan Braun thinks he's worthy of an even higher honor."I think he deserves some love for the All-Star Game," said Braun, a three-time All-Star starter. "He's played as well as any catcher in the National League. I don't think you can play much better." Lucroy got a late start after fracturing a finger in Spring Training, but entered June with the third-best batting average (.299) and home run count (six) among NL catchers, and the fourth-best RBI total (23). He did most of that damage in May, tying Prince Fielder and Corey Hart for the team lead with five home runs. Major League Baseball released the first round of All-Star Game balloting results for NL players on Tuesday, and Lucroy did not make the top five catchers. San Francisco's Buster Posey led the way with 785,314 votes, but he's out for the season with a leg injury. Atlanta's Brian McCann, St. Louis' Yadier Molina, Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz and Cincinnati's Ramon Hernandez rounded out the top five. "I don't think we would be where we are without [Lucroy's] contributions," Braun said. "He definitely deserves some consideration, so hopefully our fans get out there and vote for him." Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via your mobile device -- using the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint until June 30 at 10:59 p.m. CT. Lucroy was named the Brewers' player of the month for May in a vote of club officials and traveling media. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo was May's pitcher of the month after going 5-1 with a 2.25 ERA and 41 strikeouts. Gallardo should garner some votes for league pitcher of the month honors, but Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw has a strong case. He was 4-0 with a 1.77 ERA and 46 strikeouts.