For the first time in a while, the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers series brings us to a pitcher that has zero big league service time.
Today, 47 days away from Opening Day, the series takes a look at a pitcher who the Brewers signed as an undrafted free agent in February of 2005, when he was just 19 years old…
His numbers were not impressive at the highest minor league level, as he posted a season record of 7-12, backed by a 4.72 ERA in 150.2 innings pitched over 28 starts. Over the course of the season, Rivas allowed 151 hits, 88 runs (79 earned), 14 home runs, and 81 walks while striking out only 108 batters. He held opponents to a batting average of .260 and totaled a 1.54 WHIP.
Rivas was a highly-touted prospect in the system for a couple of seasons, in part because of the lack of pitching talent therein but also because of his impressive seasons at High-A Brevard County in 2009 and with Double-A Huntsville in 2010.
The 2009 season as a Manatee was probably Rivas’ best and most encouraging as a professional. It led to the Brewers front office adding Rivas to the 40-man roster prior to the 2009 Rule V Draft.
Since then, however, Rivas appears to possibly be topping out in Triple-A. 2012 could be a very important year for Rivas as he has no real shot to make the Major League roster this season and that will result in his third and final minor league option being burned up. A sub-par year in 2012 could make the next step in Rivas’ career one where he is subjected to waivers and a possible change of venue.
Rivas was the team’s 10th best prospect heading into last season, according to Baseball America which had the following to say about him:
“Rivas’ individual pitches don’t blow hitters or scouts away, but he knows how to pitch and how to set up hitters. He understands the importance of location and works both sides of the plate. Rivas throws his fastball in the low 90s with some boring life and sink. His fastball can reach 95 but straightens out at higher velocities. He developed a feel for a changeup at a young age, and it grades out as his best pitch.”
While not awe-inspiring, it does point out that there are certain talents with which Rivas has pitched himself to the Triple-A level. He was given the accolade of having the system’s best change up and overall control as recently as 2010.
Unfortunately not everyone has the talent to compete at the highest level of the sport, but even those that do often don’t make the proper adjustments to realize their potential. The path to the bigs is littered with the hopes and dreams of countless ballplayers.
If he doesn’t show a significant improvement/rebound in his performance, he may never get an opportunity to ply his wares in Milwaukee as a Brewer.
The one caveat to writing Rivas off, other than that he’s still in his mid-20s, is that there was speculation that an injury was contributing to Rivas’ poor year. Rivas did end up having right elbow surgery to remove bone spurs. If he comes into camp healthy, as is expected, looking at 2011 with a grain of salt might not be a bad idea.
Then again, if he is deemed healthy and struggles into the season a bit, 2011’s finish will only compound the fears that he might have maxed out and hit his ceiling.
Time will tell. All we can do it watch with an interested eye.