GRAND CHUTE - Being a top pick in any Major League Baseball organization brings with it pressure and lots of eyes on your every move. Playing about 100 miles from your team's home base brings some extra scrutiny.
"Our evaluator people, people that work in the front office can hop in the car and drive there, Craig Counsell or (assistant GM) Gord (Ash)," said Brewers general manager Doug Melvin. "They love to go there and watch the games."
Coming off a Midwest League Championship, the Timber Rattlers are used to dealing with pressure. They're also used to looking up in the stands and seeing Melvin or one of his top deputies.
"Last year, especially, we had them here more often than not," said Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson. "I expect them here a lot this year as well."
This year's Timber Rattlers will feature a pair of first-round picks from 2012 — catcher Clint Coulter and outfielder Mitch Haniger. Haniger, a supplemental first-round pick, spent part of last season with the Rattlers before partially tearing the PCL in his right knee.
"I'm excited to be back here," said Haniger, who also played with the Green Bay Bullfrogs before being drafted. "Definitely, defending the championship they had last year, had a great team last year, we're all excited to start off. We have that expectation of us as well."
Coulter, a big guy for a catcher at 6'3" and a 2012 first-round pick, is also aware the Brewers will have a close eye on his progress.
"I'll know (Melvin is) there, I'll feel his presence," said Coulter. "You can't worry about who's in the stands, you just have to go out and play."
The Timber Rattlers open their 2013 season Thursday at Peoria, before their home opener Monday against Cedar Rapids.
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