PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Taylor Jungmann and outfielder Mitch Haniger were among 33 former first-round Draft picks named to Arizona Fall League rosters on Monday.
Jungmann, the Brewers' top Draft pick in 2011 and second-ranked prospect, and Haniger, a supplemental first-round selection in 2012, will play for the Surprise Saguaros in the prospect-rich league, which has graduated more than 60 percent of past participants to the Majors. Also named to that team were right-handers David Goforth and Kevin Shackelford, catcher Adam Weisenburger and first baseman/outfielder Jason Rogers.
The six-team league begins play on Oct. 8.
"It is still very, very prestigious, and a chance for players to extend their seasons a little bit," said Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash. "You can't knock the results. The results are impressive of players graduating from that league to the big leagues."
The Brewers' roster is littered with former AFLers, including Ryan Braun, one of 11 league MVPs to have played in the league. Outfielders Khris Davis, Caleb Gindl and Logan Schafer, second baseman Scooter Gennett, shortstop Jean Segura and pitchers Brandon Kintzler and Tyler Thornburg all played in the AFL.
"That was when I really felt like I could play with those guys," Gennett said. "Basically every day was quality, Triple-A or big league [caliber] guys. You're in the big league uniform, playing against great competition."
Gennett followed his strong 2011 Arizona Fall League with a breakthrough Spring Training with the Brewers in 2012, even though he was not a member of big league camp. On loan from the Minors, Gennett hit .450 in nine official Cactus League games, hitting for the cycle in one game against the Royals.
Davis was in the AFL last year, and followed up by cracking the Brewers' Opening Day roster.
"It's a fun time to meet other players, and that's one of the main things, the connections you make," said Davis, who also remembers the grind of his longest season to date. "I would say it's a week too long. But to start, it's pretty fun. It's laid back and you get to work on you."
Haniger, 22, was the Brewers' priority pick and should play regularly for the Saguaros. He hit a combined .266 with 11 home runs and 66 RBIs for Class A Wisconsin and Class A Advanced Brevard County through Monday, and has a .353 on-base percentage in his first 138 Minor League games.
Jungmann, 23, is 9-10 with a 4.38 ERA in 25 starts for Double-A Huntsville but has struggled since that league's All-Star break, going 0-4 with a 6.30 ERA in his first eight second-half starts.
Of the Brewers' picks, the 25-year-old Rogers made the biggest jump. He entered Tuesday batting .268 with 22 home runs and 85 RBIs in 127 games for Huntsville, doubling his home run total from 2012. A regular first baseman, he will play some outfield in the AFL to maximize his playing time.
Goforth, 24, was 11-8 with a 3.17 ERA for Brevard County and Huntsville, and Shackelford, also 24, had a 3.30 ERA in 41 relief appearances for those same two teams. Weisenburger hit .251 in 63 games at Huntsville.
Davis softens stance on position change
PITTSBURGH -- Back in Spring Training, then-Brewers outfield prospect Khris Davis all but dismissed the notion of switching positions, saying he had tried first base in the 2010 fall instructional league.
"It didn't go too well," Davis said then. "I think I'm an outfielder in my blood."
But now that he has gotten a taste of the Major Leagues and has thrived since taking over for the suspended Ryan Braun, Davis sounds more open-minded. With Braun expected back next season, and the rest of the Brewers' outfield set, Davis was asked again on Tuesday whether he would consider a switch.
This time, Davis said, "Whatever keeps me in the bigs."
With each quality at-bat, he is making club officials including manager Ron Roenicke, ponder whether Davis might not be "just a left fielder," after all. The 25-year-old entered Tuesday on an 11-game hitting streak, batting .432 in those games with five home runs, and has impressed Roenicke with a calm and patient approach at the plate.
First base happens to be the Brewers' most uncertain position heading into 2014.
"You could" consider a position change, Roenicke said. "They tried him at first base, is the thing, and it didn't go well. I don't know why. I haven't really asked that much into it. But I think with what we're seeing, and if we continue to see this, we're going to have some discussions on what we can do."
For now, Davis remains an outfielder.
"He does a good job in the outfield, that's the other thing," Roenicke said. "He runs down the ball well, and I think I can put him in right field and not worry about it. The arm, OK, it's not a right fielder's arm, but how much does it really come up? It doesn't come up enough that I can't put him out there to start in right field for a game, or a few. A season, you've got to look at it."
Davis' hitting streak was snapped in Tuesday's 7-6 win over the Pirates, as he went 0-for-5. But he made a nice running catch in the fourth to rob Andrew McCutchen of extra bases.
Gomez feeling better after knee injury
PITTSBURGH -- So far, so good for Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez in his return from a sprained right knee.
Gomez started his fourth consecutive game on Tuesday, though Monday's off-day provided a welcome rest. He played a bit deeper than usual during the weekend series in Cincinnati, because coming in on balls caused less strain on his knee than going back on them, but he planned to position normally during the Brewers' three games against the Pirates at spacious PNC Park.
"I'm getting better," Gomez said. "The first game was a little tough, then the second game was better and the third was almost fine. Still, sometimes there's the thought of getting going, but [Sunday] was an early game, [Monday] was a day off and today I came in fresh."
Gomez has been doing strengthening exercises before games and said he expects to manage occasional discomfort for the rest of his season.
"I hope he's at the point where he feels like he can do everything now," said manager Ron Roenicke.
Gomez went 1-for-4 with a walk in Tuesday's 7-6 win over the Pirates and had an outfield assist as part of an 8-4 double play.
• The Pirates made a trade with the Mets on Tuesday for outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck, who are expected to arrive in time for Wednesday's game.
"Marlon Byrd is having a heck of a year," Roenicke said. "Buck started off fast and cooled off, but he's still a nice, experienced catcher. That's a nice move. I'm surprised those guys got that far through [waivers]."
• Roenicke spoke highly on Tuesday afternoon about right-handed reliever Brandon Kintzler, who has pitched his way into a high-leverage relief role. Kintzler entered Tuesday having been unscored upon in 25 of his previous 28 appearances and has essentially become Roenicke's eighth-inning man.
"Early in the season, it wasn't necessarily that I didn't think he could do this," Roenicke said. "We had other people to do it. We liked him before he got hurt [in 2011]. He's got really good stuff and now he's showing the 'mind' part of it that he can pitch in late innings and it doesn't bother him. Key situations don't bother him."
Kintzler pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning on Tuesday for his 19th hold of the season.