Well, that’s the way we do things for the “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” season preview/Opening Day countdown series, and after a day off yesterday because nobody will be wearing #76, we’re back!
The lucky recipient of #75 and today’s subject is…
Webb, 28, is a veteran of parts of 6 seasons in the minor leagues (along with missing all of 2008 due to rupturing his ulnar collateral ligament and subsequent Tommy John surgery and recovery). He was originally an 8th round draft choice by the Cincinnati Reds back in 2006 and had spent his entire professional career to this point in the Reds’ organization before becoming a minor-league free agent this offseason. Physically, Webb throws left-handed and stands 6’4″ tall while being listed at 205 pounds. (For a visual reference, former Brewer Mitch Stetter was listed at 6’4″, 220 lb.)
When Webb was first signed, many people thought that he could be a legitimate option as a LOOGy reliever for the Brewers bullpen. Granted this was before the signings of either Tom Gorzelanny or Michael Gonzalez by Milwaukee, but any non-Rule V, career minor leaguer making a 25-man roster out of Spring Training is a bit of a long-shot to begin with. Working in Webb’s favor though is that he certainly performed better against left-handed hitting in the minor leagues than against their right-handed counterparts.
2012 vs. LHH: 24.1 IP, 16 H, 0 HR, 9 BB, 25 K, 1.11 WHIP, 5 XBH, .186/.273/.279 against, 38.1% ground ball rate, 14.3% line drive rate
Those numbers indicate a player who misses bats to a degree and when someone makes contact it usually isn’t good contact. The walk total is a bit higher than I’d like to see but some of that likely can be attributed to not giving in to hitters by offering of a batting practice meatball if he falls behind in the count.
Bottom line for Webb at this point appears to be that something bad would have to happen for him to get a shot at the 25-man roster early on. Should someone go down with an injury, for example, Webb might get a promotion. His age and experience, but status as a NRI signed to a minor-league deal, almost guarantees that the first pitch he throws in a 2013 regular season will be with “Sounds” across his chest. (That’s an educated guess because the Brewers Triple-A Affiliate Nashville Sounds open their season with an eight-game homestand.)
Still, look for Webb to be used in big league camp in LOOGy situations to gauge what the Brewers might have in him. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see those appearances come early in games while established major league hitters are still in the lineups, at least in the beginning stages of the Cactus League.
In those outings, you can expect Webb to feature a mid-to-upper 80’s four-seam fastball, a changeup which sits in the mid-70s, a slider which is right around 80 MPH, and the occasional curveball. One report I found said that Webb’s fastball has some cutting action to it.
Certainly sounds like a player who might be able to help the parent club one day. I’ll be paying attention come camp.