MILWAUKEE -- Tyler Thornburg, the Brewers' representative in last year's All-Star Futures Game, said about the nicest thing you can say about this year's pick.
"He just hits and hits and hits," Thornburg said.
He is Scooter Gennett, a 5-foot-9 second-base prospect who has mashed at every level since the Brewers made him a 16th-round Draft pick in 2009. He will get a chance to hit on a national stage July 8 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
The 22-year-old is Milwaukee's only representative in the 14th annual showcase of prospect talent, a U.S. vs. the World event on the Sunday before the All-Star Game. Previous Futures Games have included the likes of Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks (2004), Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo ('06) and Brett Lawrie ('10).
Gennett will be part of the U.S. roster.
His big year began in Spring Training, when Gennett joined the Brewers on loan from Minor League camp. He made his mark with a series of big games, including a March 25 game against the Royals in which he hit for the cycle.
That performance came as no surprise to his Minor League teammates. They have watched Gennett bat .309 at Class A Wisconsin in 2010, an even .300 at Class A Brevard County in '11 and .300 this season at Double-A Huntsville. He entered the season as the Brewers' sixth-best prospect, according to MLB.com.
"I've always been told I can't do certain things, and I like when people tell me that," Gennett said in the spring. "It helps my work ethic. I work harder. I think I just need to work as hard as I can to get better out on the field, and then the outcome is all the same no matter what size you are. It's kind of nice 'repping' the small guys out there."
Thirty-four players Gennett's height or shorter have stepped to plate at least once in a Major League game this season, according to Baseball-Reference.com. The list includes the Brewers' own 5-foot-9 outfielder, Norichika Aoki.
Gennett's hero is Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox, the big dog of the little guys. He's 5-9 in the Baseball-Reference system, 5-8 in the Red Sox media guide and has more awards than guys significantly larger then him. Pedroia was the 2007 American League Rookie of the Year, the '08 AL MVP and an All-Star three times.
"You see a guy like Pedroia out there doing it, and it gives you a good feeling," Gennett said. "It's like, 'I can do it, too.' So what if they think your ceiling's not as high?"
Gennett has a quick answer for those who say he's too small to star in the Major Leagues.
"If you're an infielder," he said with a smile in Spring Training, "the shorter you are, the closer you are to the ground to field the ball, right?"
The Brewers asked Gennett to focus on his defense this season, and Double-A manager Darnell Coles told the Huntsville Times just last week that Gennett has "played phenomenally on defense." Coles split time between third base, first base and the outfield during his own Major League career, which spanned 14 seasons.
"In years past, he's been a hitter and played pretty good defense. Now we've put an emphasis defensively on him so he can be a well-rounded player," Coles said. "I don't let Scooter up for air. He knows he's got to do it. And we get it done. I want him to understand there is more to being an everyday player than just hitting."
The 14th annual Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game can be seen live on MLB.TV, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday on July 8 at 5 p.m. ET. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on MLB Network Radio XM 89. MLB.com will also provide complete coverage before, during and after the game. Fans can stay updated by following @MLBFutures on Twitter and can send/receive tweets to/from the U.S. and World team dugouts during the game by following @USDugout and @WorldDugout.
Major League Baseball, along with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America and the 30 Major League baseball clubs, selected the 25-man rosters.