Crew's blueprint unfolding with Timber Rattlers

Crew's blueprint unfolding with Timber Rattlers

APPLETON, Wis. -- In the Milwaukee Brewers' media guide, the rebuilding process is written out. Down on the farm, it's lived out.

Throughout the organization, as evident with the Brewers' Class A affiliate, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the club has been open in accepting the gradual rebuilding mode that general manager David Stearns officially enacted during the offseason.

The media guide's official wording puts it deftly: The Brewers have "implemented an approach to acquire, develop and retain young, controllable talent across all levels of the organization with the goal of making an impact at the Major League level."

The objective is undisguised: the rebuild is on in Milwaukee.

This transparency has integrated its way down the Brewers' organization, arriving at the ballparks where much of that young and controllable talent hopes to develop into the core of future contending Milwaukee clubs. If there were any uncertainty that the entire organization was embracing this cycle, allow the Timber Rattlers to remove that.

"There's no doubt that at this stage, the organization is going younger," Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson said. "They're acquiring as much controllable young talent as possible, is what David [Stearns] likes to use."

Erickson, in his sixth season as manager of the Timber Rattlers, has kept the topic from becoming a proverbial elephant in the room.

"It's something we've talked about as a coaching staff with them," Erickson said. "It's an exciting time to be in the Brewers organization if you're a young, developing player. You're going to get an opportunity if you deserve it.

"If you earn it, you're going to get a shot. From that standpoint, it's a great motivator."

Not only has the coaching staff addressed the organization's direction to its prospects, but the powers that be, who are located 100 miles south of Appleton, have done so as well.

"In Spring Training, we all had a meeting with Stearns and [Brewers manager] Craig Counsell," Timber Rattlers infielder and 2013 second-round Draft pick Tucker Neuhaus said. "It's an awesome time to be a young Brewer."

The main message from the big league skipper?

"One big thing that Counsell was saying is be comfortable being uncomfortable," Neuhaus said.

Not always comfortable in small clubhouses and on long bus rides through the Midwest, much of the young talent acquired in accordance with Milwaukee's approach finds itself playing for Wisconsin. Led by 2015 Draft first-round pick outfielder Trent Clark, 10 players on the Timber Rattlers' roster were drafted by the Brewers last June. Two more players, infielder Isan Diaz and pitcher Freddy Peralta, were key parts in significant deals by Stearns that traded away Jean Segura and Adam Lind this past offseason.

Top Prospects: Diaz, MIL

Eight player from the Brewers' Top 30 Prospects list are with the Timber Rattlers, and none is ranked higher than Clark, Milwaukee's first-round selection in the 2015 Draft, who ranks fifth on the list. If there were anyone on the Timber Rattlers to feel the weight of a rebuilding franchise placed upon his shoulders, it would be Clark.

"There's not pressure," Clark said. "Of course I think about getting to the big leagues and wanting to be there, but at this time, I'm not thinking about what I have to do to get there right now."

Top Prospects: Clark, MIL

Each and every day is a part of the ongoing process. Milwaukee is 18-26 heading into a series in Atlanta, but much more affects the Brewers of the future than just what takes place with the parent club.

On Sunday in the Fox River Valley, it was a pair of home runs by third baseman Jake Gatewood and second baseman Luis Aviles to spark a 7-6 win that drew Wisconsin to 20-22 on the year. In the rubber match with D-backs Class A affiliate Kane County on Monday, someone else could aid in the gradual process.

"It's a rebuild," Clark said. "They're focusing on young talent and they're letting it be known that it's some of us. We don't know who it is, who they want to rebuild around. They keep their cards close to their chest. We know there's some talented people in this organization and we're all striving to be better than everybody else."

With very few large contracts still looming on the Major League payroll, both Erickson and Clark noted that being a Brewers prospect possesses fewer obstacles for young talent to reach the Majors than most.

"We all know there's an opportunity," Clark said. "The coordinators talk about it, everybody talks about it. It's a great time to be a Brewer, if you're a young kid."

Within the compressed quarters of their Minor League clubhouse, the Timber Rattlers embrace the opportunity to own a locker in the more luxurious confines at Miller Park.

"It's a huge motivation, absolutely," Erickson said.

Curt Hogg is a reporter for based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.