Speed hastens second baseman's promotion to Nashville Sounds

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 9:30pm

Eric Farris does not like to wait around. That’s true whether it comes to the base path or his career path.

The 24-year-old second baseman stole 70 bases in 2009 (third among all minor league baseball players) for Brevard County of the Class A Florida State League.

That helped put him on the fast track through the Milwaukee Brewers’ system. He skipped right over Class AA and was picked to open 2010 with the AAA Nashville Sounds.

Farris says he is willing to be patient as he adjusts to the level of competition. Even so, he recognizes that his speed is one of his greatest assets and the sooner he can make good use of it the better.

“The (AAA) pitchers have more experience than in single-A so it may take a few weeks to get a feel for stealing,” Farris said. “But I want to be a table-setter on offense.”

He was just one of the newcomers who drew attention during the Sounds’ media day Tuesday at Greer Stadium.

Nashville opens the season Thursday at Iowa. Its first home game is 7:05 p.m. on April 16.

Left-handed pitcher Zach Braddock, considered one of the top five prospects in the Brewers’ system, made the more traditional move from Class AA, where he had a 1.79 ERA in 26 games last season.

“The main thing I want to improve on is handling the workload and maintaining it,” Braddock said. “I want to be a viable relief option whenever they call my number.”

Regardless of where they were a year ago, Farris and Braddock both expressed deference to the veterans, a group that includes third-year outfielder, one of nine players who spent all of 2009 with Nashville, and pitcher Tim Dillard, a Nashville resident who did two short stints in the Major Leagues last summer.

After all, at 22 years old, Braddock is the youngest player on the current roster. Catcher Angel Salome (23) is the only other one younger than Farris.

“With the older guys it’s all about respect,” Braddock said. “They put in their time as professionals and deserve it.”

Katin, who is 27, plans to make the youngsters earn his respect before he reciprocates.

“I’ll just be hard on (the newcomers),” he joked, “make their lives miserable.”

Still, it’s easy to see why Farris made the big jump that he did.

In addition to all his stolen bases, he was Florida State League’s top fielding second baseman and was among the top five in hits (third), batting average (fourth) and runs scored (tied for fifth). Not only that, he led all minor leaguers with 26 sacrifices.

In four years of professional baseball, he has been an All-Star twice.

“I’m here to learn a lot from the veterans,” Farris said. “I just want to be the guy that plays solid defense and is willing to learn.”

Expect him to do so quickly.