By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Jun 06, 2003 at 5:28 AM

The Brewers released veteran outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds and drafted Southern University's Rickie Weeks and some other promising prospects all in the matter of 48 hours this week.

They were classic out with the old, in with the new moves. Let's first take a look at the new.

GM Doug Melvin doesn't believe in rushing his prospects, but the Crew's first round pick, Weeks, could be ready for the big leagues in only a couple years.

Weeks is only 20, but has twice led the NCAA in hitting in his three years at Southern University and has gotten more big time experience with Team USA the last two years. He seems to have the natural skills, and mental makeup, to be put on the fast track

"This is a player who has a lot of tools," Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik said earlier this week. "When we look at what we have at Double A (Huntsville), I think we have a chance for Rickie to step up with that group. It's going to be an asset for this organization for years to come."

Weeks must have some impressive tools if the Brewers are talking about him skipping A ball, or at least moving through that level at an accelerated pace. One of the main assets of the second baseman is that he is looking forward to joining the youth movement of the team.


"I'm elated about Milwaukee," said Weeks, who was rumored for weeks to be the Brewers' main priority with the second overall pick in Tuesday's draft. "I'm looking forward to getting playing time and contributing."

Weeks' attitude might be as important as his natural skills in determining when he arrives in Milwaukee and how well he does here. Several scouting reports compared his skills to a young Gary Sheffield. Those of us who remember that player with the Brewers recall how he became a disruptive force and never lived up to his potential until he was dealt away. So, let's hope Weeks has skills like Sheffield, with a lot better head on his shoulders.

Another interesting pick is outfielder Anthony Gwynn, the son of former great Tony Gwynn. For the second straight year, the Brewers picked the son of a former major league player. Last year's first pick, Prince Fielder, is the son of Cecil Fielder.

Blood lines can mean something. Gwynn didn't hit very well at San Diego State, where he played for his father-coach. But, he is considered a good outfielder, and some scouts believe he will hit better in pro ball than he did with the aluminum bats in college.

The Melvin era seems to have gotten off to a good start with its first draft. Of course, Brewers' fans know all too well how long a trip it can be from prospect to actual productive major league player. Now, we have to see if Weeks, Gwynn and some of the other picks this week can successfully make that long journey.

Hammonds Release

Melvin once again showed he is going to take a no nonsense approach to trying to improve the Brewers. One week after trading Alex Sanchez, Melvin gave Hammonds his outright release.

The signing of Hammonds might have been the worst move of several bad ones by former GM Dean Taylor. Hammonds had a history of injuries before the Brewers signed him, but was coming off a career year with the Colorado Rockies.

Then manager Davey Lopes knew and liked Hammonds, and the Brewers were without a centerfielder, so Taylor made him the highest paid player in franchise history. For their investment, the Brewers got a player who never came close to the All Star break without going on the disabled list and produced little when he was on the field.

Hammonds was on rehab again at the time of his release. The Brewers will have to pick up the remainder of his salary for doing nothing, but by releasing him Melvin is saying that Brady Clark and John Vander Wal are doing fine in a platoon in right, and that Hammonds didn't fit into any future picture for the Crew.

Frankly, it was a move that this writer didn't think the Brewers would make. It was a baseball move, not one of those financial moves we've seen the team make so many times in recent years.

Beyond Milwaukee Sports

The WIAA State Track Meet will be held at UW-La Crosse this weekend. Stevens Point senior Chris Solinsky will try to become only the second boys runner in history to win the 800, 1600 and 3200 meters in the same meet. Gabe Jennings of Madison East did it in 1996. Monona Grove senior Gavin Ball will try to build on the three throwing (discus and shot put) titles he already has won ... The La Crosse Loggers joined Madison and Wisconsin teams in the Southern Division of the Northwoods League, a circuit made up of college players ... The UW-Madison crew team finished second to top-ranked Harvard at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta in Camden, New Jersey.

The Name Game

Wisconsin players Tony Harper, an Oak Creek High School senior, pitcher Scott Roehl, formerly of Shoreland Lutheran and now at the University of Arkansas, and UW-Oshkosh pitcher Jordan Timm were selected by the Dodgers, Indians and Orioles on the first day of the baseball draft. On the second day, the Brewers took pitchers Dan Grybash of Carthage College, Daryl Maday of Westosha Central (this writer's alma mater) and Ryan Zink of Madison LaFollette ... Former Marquette coach Mike Deane has been hired as head coach at Wagner College. Deane had coached the last four seasons at Lamar ... Marquette golfers Jason Gaare and Nathan Colson beat veterans Tom Halla and John Haines to win the WSGA Bestball Championship at Brighton Dale.

Hot Tix

The Brewers' games with the Red Sox this weekend are at 7:05 p.m. Friday, 6:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday at Miller Park. The series starts a month of several inter-league weekend contests. The Brewers travel to Baltimore next weekend, host the Twins on Jan. 20-22 and then go to Minnesota the following weekend.

Wave United hosts Portland at 4 p.m. Sunday at Uihlein Field.

You can see plenty of sports celebrities and support a good cause by going to the Lombardi Golf Classic at North Hills Country Club Saturday. Bart Starr, Bob Uecker, Frank Winters, Max McGee, Bo Ryan and Keith Tozer are just some of the celebs playing in the tourney, which raises money for the fight against cancer.

Tickets are still available for next Thursday's induction ceremony for the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. Check it out at

If you shop at Grand Avenue this weekend, you can get free tickets to the U.S. Gymnastics Championships at U.S. Cellular Arena June 19-22. Waukesha's Paul Hamm will try to defend his title against the best gymnasts in the country.

It might be hard to convince some of you that Harley riding is a sport, but a Road Warriors Highland Challenge competition also is planned Sunday as part of the Milwaukee Rally this weekend at The Milwaukee Mile. The event runs from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Gregg Hoffmann writes The State Sports Buzz every Friday for OMC.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.