Category: Prospects

More Thoughts on the Aftermath of Hill Shipping Up to Boston

First, here’s how the official press release announcing the trade of Aaron Hill was written, in case you haven’t seen it.

OFFICIAL RELEASE

The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired right-handed pitcher Aaron Wilkerson and second baseman Wendell Rijo from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for infielder Aaron Hill and cash. The announcement was made by General Manager David Stearns.

“In Aaron Wilkerson, we are adding a starting pitcher who has had tremendous success in the minor leagues and could be an asset to the Major League team in the near future,” said Stearns. “Wendell Rijo adds even more young talent and strength up the middle to our organization.”

Wilkerson, 27, had been pitching this season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he was 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA in 9 games (8 starts). He was holding International League opponents to a .223 batting average (41-for-184, 5hr) with 54 strikeouts in just 48.0 innings pitched. He also pitched at Double-A Portland this season, going 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA in 8 starts. While at Portland, he held Eastern League opponents to a .175 batting average (28-for-160, 2hr) with 48 strikeouts in just 44.1 innings pitched.

Wilkerson, who was signed by Boston as a non-drafted free agent on July 18, 2014, owns an impressive career minor-league record of 22-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 54 games (44 starts). He has produced 293 strikeouts in just 279.0 innings pitched.

Prior to joining the Red Sox organization, the product of Cumberland University (TN), pitched the 2013 season for three independent league teams: Fort Worth – United League Baseball; Florence – Frontier League and Grand Prairie – American Association.

Rijo, 20, began the 2016 season at Double-A Portland, where he appeared in 51 games. He was transferred to Class-A Salem in late June and appeared in 11 games there prior to today’s trade.

Born in La Romana in the Dominican Republic, Rijo was signed by Boston as an international free agent on July 6, 2012. He owns a career batting average of .250 with 16 HR, 129 RBI and 50 stolen bases in 333 minor-league games (2012-2016). Following last season, he was ranked as the 15th-best prospect in the Red Sox organization and 19th-best prospect in the Carolina League by Baseball America.

Hill, 34, was acquired by Milwaukee last January 30 from Arizona, along with right-handed pitcher Chase Anderson, shortstop Isan Diaz and cash, in exchange for shortstop Jean Segura and right-handed pitcher Tyler Wagner. He batted .283 (72-for-254) with 8 HR and 29 RBI in 78 games with the Brewers, making 71 starts (55g at 3B, 16g at 2B).

“Along with his statistical contributions, we thank Aaron for his veteran leadership and versatility during his time as a Brewer,” said Stearns.

For my thoughts on the trade both from the viewpoint of the Red Sox as well as the Brewers, check out my article over at Today’s Knuckleball by clicking here.

What I didn’t say there because it really didn’t fit is how this move is just the first salvo in what should be an incredibly busy month for David Stearns and company.

They have a plethora of movable assets and of those many that teams should desire to varying degrees. He even has assets that he’ll get calls on but shouldn’t move as they have a chance to be key parts of the future contender.

Here’s a quick list (alphabetical by last name) with a blurb as to why each could be moved. Oh, and let me say here that I’m not including Braun because I don’t believe he’ll be moved and I don’t feel like writing up a section about why Stearns would move him.

  • Blaine Boyer
    • Why you would move him: Really playing well (outside of San Francisco) and has shown the ability handle higher-leverage innings. Wasn’t expected to give you much when signing as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training so anything you could get in trade is a bonus from that aspect. All relief pitchers, middle relievers chief among them, are volatile meaning capitalizing on their value when you can should be considered. Plus, Boyer turns 35 next week so you can’t count on him as a part of the future here in Milwaukee.
    • Why you wouldn’t: I guess you wouldn’t if no one asked you to. Really, in Boyer’s case where he was a flier on a team looking for roleplayer bullpen arms Boyer has positioned himself to potentially be of value to a contender who isn’t getting enough mileage out of their current group (like the Cubs, for instance). There are a bunch of teams who could use an arm like Boyer’s.
  • Chris Carter
    • Why you would move him: Having a good bounce-back year as he desired when signing here, has shown he can play everyday defense at 1B. Would be more expensive next year (though under team control for a time yet) and could cool off limiting trade value in the off-season or next year.
    • Why you wouldn’t: He’s still quite inexpensive for the level of production he’s giving even with the 2nd year of arbitration eligibility looming (using this year’s one-year price as the starting point should temper the bottom line) and while there are some intriguing first basemen in the system, no one is exactly busting down the door to take the job in 2017. Carter could be move next July the same as this July plus most contenders who would covet the kind of power Carter would add to a lineup have solutions at first base already so the return might not enough during the year when the trade partner pool is limited.
  • Matt Garza
    • Why you would move him: He hasn’t performed particularly well over the last year and a half when healthy enough to pitch. He still has talent though and a change of scenery and pitching philosophy (despite there being a new pitching coach with Milwaukee this year) could benefit him. Garza is a competitor in the truest sense of the word and might subconsciously lock in if pitching in games that mean more. The main reason though is that despite his veteran leadership, the Brewers have been amassing a handful of knocking-on-the-door starting pitchers would need to be given big league chances (in some cases second chances) before 2018. Moving Garza frees up a spot for that to happen. The pool of available starting pitching isn’t exactly a robust one this year either so that could lead someone to giving Garza a shot like James Shields to the White Sox.
    • Why you wouldn’t: If Stearns couldn’t get what he considers to be fair value, then you can give Garza more time this season to prove what he still has left in the tank. He’s a guy who is tradeable come August so you don’t have to force the issue this month.
  • Junior Guerra
    • Why you would: He’s come out of seemingly nowhere to be the most consistently good starting pitcher the Brewers have run out there this season and, again in a down market for starting pitching, that could translate to serious value if someone is willing to strike while the iron is hot.
    • Why you wouldn’t: If the Brewers think he’s really for real then three years of league minimum-ish salaries and up to six years of team control mean you could conceivably control all of Guerra’s remaining effectiveness. Even if he’s never more than a mid-rotation guy, this season is proof positive that even that role can be a challenging one to fill.
  • Jonathan Lucroy
    • Why you would: He’s cheap, plays a premium position at a very high level, and could fetch the club a drool-worthy return in prospects.
    • Why not: He’s cheap, plays a premium position at a very high level, and you could still trade him in the off-season if you aren’t going to extend him.
  • Kirk Nieuwenhuis
    • Why you would: He’s not exactly a long-term solution, especially when you have guys like Maverick Phillips on the way. He’s arbitration-eligible for the first time this coming off-season.
    • Why not: He knows how to succeed at the big league level, especially defensively, and his role in mentoring a guy like Phillips (and to a lesser degree guys like Ramon Flores and Domingo Santana) is a valuable job. Plus he’s still under team control for three seasons if you want him
  • Carlos Torres
    • Why you would: See many of the reasons listed for Boyer. Torres is a quality enough arm to be valuable, quality enough to have played for the NL Champion Mets last year.
    • Why not: Again, no real reason not to if you can get something of value. Let Torres play for a contender if there’s one who wants him and get something back that can help the future.

For another group of players, the write-ups would look extremely similar. You would trade them because they have value and performing well right now but you wouldn’t because they’re young enough with some ceiling still to reach (to varying degrees), and controllable/cost-effective that they could still be a part of the next contending roster. This group includes: Jacob Barnes, Michael Blazek, Jeremy Jeffress, Jimmy Nelson, Will Smith, Tyler Thornburg, and Jonathan Villar. That said, the return on packages containing those players or even straight-up on some of them would be intriguing.

I know I’ve only been going through names on the 25-man roster right now, but let me make one other point.

Anybody can be had for the right price and that’s what makes Stearns a good General Manager. He’s willing to listen — even on someone he 99% would never move. Look, I want Orlando Arcia to be the shortstop here in Milwaukee for the next decade-plus. That said, if the Angels were to extend Mike Trout for the next decade and offer him to Milwaukee straight up for Arcia (while paying 90% of Trout’s contract themselves), you shouldn’t and wouldn’t say no.

That example is wildly inequitable but I use it to illustrate that yes, even Orlando Arcia is tradeable under the right circumstances.

All this said, I expect a handful of players to probably be wearing other uniforms by August 1st. I also expect that anyone who leaves will do so to the betterment of the long-term goal which is to bring sustainable success to the home clubhouse at Miller Park.

2016 Draft Recap Podcast

Ray

It’s here! With the draft come and gone I have once again put together a podcast for your listening pleasure.

I talk to two of the Brewers draft picks this year, a tradition I started several years ago at this point, as I had the chance to interview top pick Corey Ray and 6th rounder Payton Henry. You’ll also hear some audio from the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Brewers, Ray Montgomery, as well as MLB veteran Curtis Granderson who has been a mentor for Corey over the last couple of years.

I might post a follow-up interview that I wanted to conduct but haven’t yet had a chance to complete due to scheduling conflicts but I wanted to get this up for now without it just in case it never happens.

But for now, listen to this and let me know what you think.

Official Release: Brewers Make Three Selections on Day One of 2016 First-Year Player Draft

Team Selects OF Corey Ray, 3B Lucas Erceg and C Mario Feliciano

MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Brewers made three selections during day one of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.  The team selected outfielder Corey Ray (University of Louisville), third baseman Lucas Erceg (Menlo College) and catcher Mario Feliciano (Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy) with the fifth, 46th and 75th picks, respectively. The announcements were made by Vice President of Amateur Scouting/Special Assistant to the General Manager Ray Montgomery.

Ray, a junior at the University of Louisville, batted .319 with 55 runs, 16 doubles, a triple, 15 home runs, 60 RBI, 44 stolen bases, a .396 OBP and a .562 slugging percentage this season. He was previously drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 33rd round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Simeon Career Academy, but chose to enroll in college instead. The left-handed hitter is majoring in exercise science. He was scouted by area scout Jeff Simpson and regional supervisor Tim McIlvaine.

Erceg, 21, is a junior at Menlo College. He hit .308 (70-for-227) with 47 runs, 15 doubles, 20 home runs, 56 RBI with a .351 on-base percentage and a .639 slugging percentage in 56 games this season. He was scouted by area scout Joe Graham and regional supervisor Corey Rodriguez.

Feliciano, 17, is a senior at the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy. He was a 2016 Rawlings-Perfect Game 2nd Team All-American and was scouted by area scout Charlie Sullivan and national supervisor Doug Reynolds.

The Draft will resume tomorrow at 12 p.m. CT with rounds 3-10. Day three of the Draft will begin at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday with rounds 11-40.

2016 Organizational Opening Day Rosters

What follows are the announced rosters for the parent club Milwaukee Brewers as well as each of the full-season minor-league affiliates of the same, broken down by position group.

Milwaukee Brewers
MLB Parent Club (Twitter: @Brewers)

Manager: Craig Counsell

25 Total Players (excluding disabled list)

Pitchers (12)

Catchers (2)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (5)

Disabled List (5)

SkySoxPrimary

Class-AAA Affiliate (Twitter: @skysox)

Manager: Rick Sweet

28 Total Players

Pitchers (14)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (5)

BiloxiShuckersOnWhite

Class-AA Affiliate (Twitter: @BiloxiShuckers)

Manager: Mike Guerrero

28 Total Players

Pitchers (14)

Catchers (4)

Infielders (7)

Outfielders (4)

BC Manatees

Class-A Advanced Affiliate (Twitter: @BCManatees)

Manager: Joe Ayrault

28 Total Players

Pitchers (14)

Catchers (2)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (4)

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Class-A Affiliate (Twitter: @TimberRattlers)

Manager: Matt Erickson

28 Total Players

Pitchers (14)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (5)

Brewers Make Several Roster Decisions

StearnsAtMMP

Through a series of tweets by beat writers Adam McCalvy (MLB.com), Tom Haudricourt & Todd Rosiak (Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel), several decisions which directly impact the 25-man roster of the Milwaukee Brewers were disseminated from Spring Training on Sunday morning.

With an opt-out decision looming today, first and foremost relief pitcher Blaine Boyer was told that he has made the 25-man roster. The move will eventually require a corresponding 40-man roster move as Boyer was in camp on a Minor League contract, but there are a handful of 60-day DL candidates so finding a spot (or two or three) won’t be difficult.

The other player who got the best news was OF/1B Ramon Flores who was also told he’ll make the 25-man roster. Flores was acquired this off-season in trade from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for infielder Luis Sardiñas in a swap of players who were likely to be waived by their original clubs. Flores had a strong Cactus League and also showed a little versatility in being able to potentially backup Chris Carter at first base.

As there are ultimately so few spots, many more players get the proverbial red ticket in their locker.

Among those informed that they’ll begin the regular season in the minors are catchers Josmil Pinto and Manny Piña who were told they’ll be in Triple-A. Catcher Adam Weisenburger will apparently join them, giving Colorado Springs a trio of backstops.

Will Middlebrooks was informed today that he’ll also be assigned to Triple-A after vying for a spot as a backup corner infielder. Once there he is expected to rotate at the corner infield positions with Andy Wilkins and Garin Cecchini.

Joining them in the high-altitude infield will be Jake Elmore who was hoping to make the big league team as a reserve but came up short.

In the outfield competition, Eric Young Jr. was told that he’ll also head to the Centennial State when camp breaks. He’ll be joined officially by Shane Peterson who, after passing through waivers earlier this winter, was also in camp on a minor-league deal.

And finally, one official optioning came down as reliever David Goforth was sent out. Even with all the injuries to the bullpen recently, Goforth having minor league options was likely a key factor as others in the running for just a couple of spots had less team control due to no options or contract opt-outs like Boyer.

All told, this leaves the following combination of players in camp:

  • Yadiel Rivera, Rule 5 Colin Walsh, and non-roster invitee Hernan Perez are competing for what is likely two open infield jobs.
  • Keon Broxton (options remaining), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (no options), and Alex Presley (NRI) competing for likely two backup outfield spots.
  • Chris Capuano (opt-out), Franklin Morales (opt-out), Ariel Peña (no options), Tyler Cravy (options remaining) are in play for two bullpen jobs

Brewers 30 Clubs/30 Days Video Clips

30Clubs30DaysLogo

These are the archived videos aired on MLB Network on March 4th as Greg Amsinger and Milwaukee’s all-time Saves leader Dan Plesac visited Brewers’ camp at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, Arizona as a part of the Network’s “30 Clubs in 30 Days” series previewing the 2016 season.

GM David Stearns sits down with Amsinger & Plesac

Ryan Braun talks about his bounce back 2015 and looking ahead to 2016

Jimmy Nelson with Dan Plesac

Domingo Santana talks about his fresh start

Will Smith on the bullpen

Ryan Braun demos base running/stealing with Plesac

Chris Carter talks to Greg Amsinger

Lucroy talks 2016 with Amsinger

Matt Garza talks youth and rotation with Plesac

Counsell with Plesac

Brewers Prospects with Jonathan Mayo

Brewers Fan Vote

Brewers Predictions

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’16 – #47 Adrian Houser

BBtJN Logo

Sorry for the extreme delay due to real world responsibilities. Let’s ride.

This article should have been posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 because that day was 47 days away from Opening Day and we should have profiled…

Adrian Houser.

HouserBBtJN

Standing 6’4″ and listed at 230 pounds, Adrian D. Houser has a prototypical “pitcher’s frame.” As a former 2nd round draft pick by the Houston Astros out of Locust Grove High School in Oklahoma, Adrian Houser has a prospect profile. After making his MLB debut on September 26, 2015 at the tender age of 22, Adrian Houser is just scratching the surface but is starting to fulfill a lot of people’s dreams on him including his own.

As the “RHP Adrian Houser too” of the Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers to Houston trade last year, there was some wonder what kind of player the Brewers had received in Houser. After all, in his seven games at Double-A Corpus Christi before the trade, Houser scuffled to a 6.21 ERA allowed 39 hits and 15 walks in 33.1 innings pitched.

Well all he did in 37.0 IP for the playoff bound Biloxi Shuckers was post a 2.92 ERA. He allowed 33 hits but only walked six. The difference in BB/9 between the relatively similar sample sizes? An untenable 4.0 in Corpus Christi against a superb 1.5 in Biloxi. That was a big factor in his success.

Houser earned himself a late, post-playoffs September call-up to the Brewers. He got into two games, throwing an inning in each. He gave up a total of one hit and two walks but nary a run did cross on his watch.

For 2016, Houser won’t be beginning the season in Milwaukee. He’s got some maturing to still do in the minors. That taste of the big leagues was a success though and it should push his confidence along in the correct direction while at the same time making him hungrier to get back.

I expect Houser to start and there’s room for him in the Colorado Springs rotation but after just 70.1 innings at Double-A it wouldn’t shock me, nor would I consider it a setback, should Houser begin the year back in Biloxi.

Catch up on BBtJN ’16: