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
It’s time, once again, for everybody to come aboard the BBtJN train!
All kitsch aside, I am happy to once again be able to bring to you my way of counting down to Opening Day for the Milwaukee Brewers. I call it “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” and the premise is a relatively simple one. When there are as many days remaining until Brewers Opening Day — this year on April 4th at Miller Park — as the jersey number a player wears on the big league side of Spring Training, I will profile that same player.
If that reads as oddly to you as it felt when I was writing it, allow a couple of examples to illuminate your mind. On February 19th, the day Pitchers & Catchers officially report to big league camp, it will be 45 days away from Opening Day. On that day I will profile Tyler Cravy since his jersey number is 45. Got it? One more just in case. March 30 is five days until Opening Day. Jonathan Villar was assigned jersey number 5. I’ll profile Villar on March 30.
I don’t do every single player as some don’t warrant the work for one subjective reason or another, but I hit the high points to be sure and most of everyone else.
As has now happened for a few years in a row, the Milwaukee Brewers only recently announced their jersey number updates for 2016. There are 10 players this year who have seen their individual dates comes and go. (Yeah, I know they’re not actually waiting for me to write something about them. It’s a turn of phrase.)
As with each of the last two years, this kick-off piece will catch us all up on the ones previously missed. As you can see, the blurbs are not full-length pieces but they deserve mention as we trudge bravely toward Opening Day.
That’s a true shame for some of these gentlemen who I’d love to go on at length about. I suspect I’ll have more years in the future with which to fulfill that desire.
With that…we ride!
#78 – Damien Magnifico
Throwing a baseball at 100 MPH tends to get you noticed around baseball circles. Notice tends to get you drafted. Damien Jack Magnifico could do that while he pitched collegiately for Oklahoma State. It was certainly part of why he was taken by the Brewers in the 5th round of the 2012 MLB Draft. After some consideration of a fast track because of that big fastball, the Brewers instead opted to have Magnifico start games (sometimes also working the second half of starter tandems early on) so he could have more time to develop his secondary pitches and harness his velocity. His results were okay as he moved up the organizational ladder, but with only one season remaining before a roster decision would have to be made on him, the Brewers decided to switch Magnifico back to the bullpen full-time.
The development plan proved to be a success at the very least for 2015 as Magnifico dominated working exclusively in relief for the playoff-bound Double-A affiliate Biloxi Shuckers. Magnifico finished 33 games in his 42 appearances, racking up 20 saves in the process. Magnifico also was generating a strong ground ball rate. Couple that with the Shuckers quality defense and you can an idea of why he was able to post a 1.17 ERA across his 53.2 innings pitched.
The Brewers did reward Magnifico’s fine season with both a trip to the Arizona Fall League as well as a coveted spot on the 40-man roster. That he’ll be wearing number 78 this spring may very well be indicative of the likelihood he’ll begin the regular season in the minors, this is a guy who both the previous and current front office folks seem to like just fine.
#77 – Brett Phillips
Another player on the “don’t let the number fool you” team is the consensus headliner of last July’s trade between the Brewers and the Houston Astros in which both Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers were sent to help the ‘Stros reach the playoffs for the first time in a while. Brett Maverick Phillips was a 6th round pick (by Houston) in the 2012 draft out of Seminole High School in Florida. All he’s done since is continually outpace his projections by working hard to develop his tool set. Phillips ranks highly on most, if not all, industry rankings of Brewers top prospects and as of publishing date he had already been revealed as the #61 prospect in the game according to Baseball Prospectus and is expected to be there or higher on MLB Pipeline’s rankings which are due out on January 29.
Phillips slashed .321/.372/.463 prior to the trade bringing him to the Biloxi Shuckers and while his numbers slumped a bit thereafter, part of that is attributable to an injury which cost him some time. He was able to return for the playoffs and make a short trip to the Arizona Fall League where he shined before leaving to represent his country by playing for Team USA in the Premier 12 Tournament over in east Asia.
A player often considered as “almost ready” to ascend to the big leagues, he has a job in center field more or less waiting for him when that time comes.
#75 – Zack Jones
Well what do we have here? A Rule 5 draft choice (the first of two in this post) who comes to the Brewers from the Minnesota Twins system, Zachary Jones is a 6’1″, 185 lb right-handed pitcher who was born and raised (and even attended college) in San Diego, California. Jones was first drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 24th round of the 2009 draft before ultimately going to college to pitch at San Jose State. His development there netted him a 4th round nod by the Twins in 2012.
Jones split time between the Class-A Advanced and Class-AA affiliates of the Twins in 2015, combining to post a 4.18 ERA. It was his very first taste of Double-A and he got 27.0 innings in which he allowed 18 earned runs while walking 18 batters and striking out 30. Most pitchers take time to adjust to new levels in the minors and hopefully Jones is no exception so he’ll fare better in 2016. However…
He won’t exactly be repeating Double-A if everything goes as the Brewers hope. As a Rule 5 pick, Jones has to remain on Milwaukee’s active big league 25-man roster all season or be offered back to Minnesota. Brewers fans will recall, probably not very fondly, the similar situation that Wei-Chung Wang went through in 2014. You can only hide the Rule 5 guy for so long, though the differences in the situations are enough to call out. The Brewers have no designs of contention in 2016 which means that it’s a perfect year to let a pitcher potentially get blown up from time to time so that you can add another talented asset to your system. Also, unlike Wang, Jones has pitched above A-ball including a very successful turn in the Arizona Fall League in 2014. Time will tell whether the Brewers get to send him to Triple-A for 2017, but for now there’s no harm at all in seeing what the 25-year-old can handle.
#74 – Daniel Tillman
Daniel Brett Tillman is a former 2nd round draft pick (2010 – LAA) who has struggled to find consistency in the minor leagues to this point in his professional career. After spending his first four years bouncing up and down the Angels system, Tillman joined the Dodgers organization where he’s pitched for the last two years. Tillman signed with the Brewers as a six-year Minor League free agent no doubt seeing an opportunity with a rebuilding club.
Tillman’s consistency issues have been tied back to his control but he really showed some improvement overall in 2015, enough that he became an intriguing option for David Stearns’ front office. Tillman’s full-season ERA (combined between High-A and Double-A) was a solid 2.76 in 58.2 innings pitched. He lowered his BB/9 to a career-best 2.6 and rebounding his K/9 to 10.4 after 2014’s disappointing 7.0 mark.
The 6’1″ right-hander will be 27 before Opening Day this year and now with his third organization, hopefully everything clicks as Tillman can earn himself a spot with Class-AAA Colorado Springs en route to hopefully a long-time-coming Major League debut one day.
#73 – Colin Walsh
The second of two MLB-portion Rule 5 draft picks by the Brewers back in December at the Winter Meetings, Colin P. Walsh is a second baseman who comes to Milwaukee by way of the Oakland Athletics. Originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round back in 2010, Walsh wound up with the A’s after being straight up released by the Cardinals during Spring Training in 2014. He caught on right away with Oakland and worked his way all the way up to Class-AAA Sacramento in 2014 before spending all of 2015 back in Class-AA Midland where he helped lead the Midland RockHounds to a Texas League championship.
Walsh’s major tool on display throughout 2015 was his keen batting eye and patience at the plate. He is on record as saying he’d rather take a borderline call and have the umpire call a third strike he doesn’t agree with than put himself at a disadvantage by swinging at the same. The patience paid off in a big way as evidenced by Walsh’s mammoth .447 on-base percentage (.302 batting average) in 619 plate appearances. Walsh walked 124 times in 2015. For an at times OBP-starved team like Milwaukee, Walsh could be just what the doctor ordered. He does have to stick on the 25-man roster all season, but with the versatility he demonstrated in the minors (he’s played both corner outfield spots as well as a sub-par third base during his minor league career) and his likely affinity for pinch-hitting should allow him to make an impact. Furthermore, Walsh is a switch-hitter (who compiled a .494 OBP vs. LHP through June 18th last year) so if Scooter Gennett once again ends up benefiting from a platoon partner, Walsh could potentially fill that role.
#72 – Orlando Arcia
What can I say about Orlando Arcia in a shortened format like this? To be honest, I could potentially fill two full columns with references and quotes and lauds and accolades for the consensus #1 prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system. He’s a shortstop who was once thought of as defensive-only (though with excellent defense) who would make the majors based on his glove work and probably hit 8th and do his best to clear the pitcher from time to time. He has blossomed into a solid hitter with line drive power from gap to gap. His bat control is getting better and better and with a little bit of time to ply his hitting wares against Triple-A level competition to begin the season, Arcia could debut in Brewers blue pretty soon.
All that said, he’s ticketed to the begin the season in Colorado Springs (barring a confluence of as yet not happened circumstances) which will be a nice test for the still just 21-year-old Venezuelan. Oh, and did I mention he’s a 21-year-old who dominated Double-A after missing an entire year of development in 2012 due to a broken ankle? He obviously won’t debut as a teenager (who does these days anymore?), but if he fulfills his growing potential we might be talking about him as a franchise cornerstone for years.
That’s high praise but scouting and analytical people who are much smarter than I am are the ones heaping it upon him. It’s easier to temper enthusiasm and keep expectations low, but where’s the fun in not dreaming big once in a while?
#71 – Josh Hader
I don’t recall the last guy who raised his profile so much so quickly upon joining a new organization. When Josh Ronald Hader was included in the aforementioned Gomez/Fiers-to-Houston deal, he was routinely mentioned as the third-best player and even as fourth when some pointed to his high likelihood of ending up as a relief pitcher. Hader posted a 3.17 ERA before the trade (17 games, 10 starts) and a 2.79 ERA in seven appearances (all starts) after the trade. That’s well and good, but it was his stint in the Arizona Fall League that really had scouts buzzing. In 16.0 IP across seven games (only two starts to help keep his innings in check), Hader was consistently throwing his fastball in the high-90s and showed increased depth to his secondary offerings, especially his slider. Scouts began touting Hader’s chances to stick as a starting pitcher as better and better. This would be a wonderful thing for the Brewers who haven’t developed a left-handed starting pitcher in quite a little bit.
A season of Triple-A ball should tell Stearns and company plenty about whether or not Hader’s newly projected ceiling will ultimately be realizable. As many tend to mention, however, if Hader does end up as a high-leverage reliever he’s viewed as potentially being quite lethal. I can’t wait for this space next year.
#70 – Jacob Barnes
Speaking of cashing in on stellar Arizona Fall League performances, Jacob Andrew Barnes did just that when he was added to the 40-man roster in late November. Don’t misunderstand. There’s a reason Barnes was sent to the Arizona Fall League. After 75.2 innings pitched in 39 games (only six starts), Barnes finished the regular season in Biloxi with a 3.36 ERA and 10.1 K/9. His walk rate wasn’t ideal and he therefore allowed too many baserunners, but he did enough that the team wanted to see more. That’s where the switch got flipped for real on Barnes helium machine.
In the AFL, Barnes through 11.2 innings and allowed just nine total baserunners for a WHIP of 0.771. He also struck out 17 on his way to allowing exactly zero runs. It was exactly the kind of performance that the 6’2″ right-handed Floridian hurler could leverage into 40-man protection. The projections by experts seem to agree that Barnes doesn’t have a high ceiling but many of the ones I prefer to read agreed that his floor should be as a Major League contributor. Keep in mind how many innings this team has given to marginal relief pitchers over the years — even the contending ones — and realize that Barnes has a pretty good bet to do better than many of them. That would be a nice return on a 14th round draft choice five years ago.
#68 – Adam Weisenburger
Alas, poor Adam Robert Weisenburger. So close to his own column and yet… The now 27-year-old catcher who finished the 2014 season in Triple-A spent the entirety of 2015 with the road-warrior Biloxi Shuckers. Since they were a playoff team, Weisenburger was afforded a better opportunity for continued play by simply remaining in Double-A for the whole year. His defense continues to be his best tool and will be on display again in mid-February as he often is among the final catchers to return to the minor league side of camp.
Weisenburger doesn’t hit all that much (.231/.356/.311) but has a decent set of on-base skills buoyed by his low strikeout total and coordinating K:BB ratio. The former 34th round draft choice could perhaps handle the defensive duties in an emergency situation at the big league level, but the Brewers once again brought in veteran free agents on minor-league contracts to likely handle the Triple-A work and be first in line for a potential call-up due to injury or, the reality is, a trade of Jonathan Lucroy.
You can follow most of the players profiled in this article on Twitter.
- #78 – Damien Magnifico: @D_Magno32
- #77 – Brett Phillips: @Brett_Phillips8
- #75 – Zack Jones: @Jack_Zones04
- #73 – Colin Walsh: @colinwalsh13
- #72 – Orlando Arcia: @orlandoarcia9
- #71 – Josh Hader: @jhader17
- #70 – Jacob Barnes: @j_barnes30
- #68 – Adam Weisenburger: @aweisenburger
Now that we’re caught up, these will begin coming one at a time with more robust write-ups.
As happened last year, the Milwaukee Brewers only recently announced the rest of their Spring Training jersey number updates for 2015. There are six players to catch up on who missed their own dates as a result.
The reason for this bonus article is that, as mentioned above, these players were announced after the day on which they would have otherwise had their individual article written and posted.
As in 2014, these won’t be in-depth profiles of these players but I wanted to make sure you knew a little something about them before camp opens and you see their names popping up in box scores.
Tyler Jay Cravy, 25, is a 6’3″ right-handed pitcher from California who the Brewers drafted out of Napa Valley College in the 17th round of the 2009 draft. He’s been a 40-man roster consideration each of the last couple of years, especially the most recent one where Cravy posted a combined 1.64 ERA in 17 games (15 starts) for three different spots in the Brewers system. In 82.1 innings, Cravy struck out 76 batters, walking just 20.
It may not have done the trick to get him on someone’s Rule 5 Draft board, but it was enough to garner him an invitation to big league camp this year. He’s likely to break camp with the new Class-AAA affiliate Colorado Springs, and it would seem as though he’s ticketed for their rotation after 2014. Cravy was primarily a bullpen arm for the three years prior.
In contrast to how long it’s taken Cravy to reach big league camp, Jeffrey Hobbs Johnson will join the big leaguers in what is just his second spring training. Drafted in the 14th round out of North Carolina, the 23-year-old Rocky Mount native has performed very well as a professional. He had limited reps after signing in 2013 (11 games, no starts) between Helena (R) and Wisconsin (A) but posted very good numbers. Last year in his first full professional season, Johnson compiled a 12-8 record in 25 games (24 starts). He pitched to a 2.93 ERA in 147.1 innings for Class-A Advanced Brevard County.
At 5’11”, the left-handed Johnson being a starter is something in which the Brewers are not exactly flush throughout their minor league system. The invite to big league camp should be viewed as the honor it is, a reward for a great season, but don’t take it to mean that Johnson has any shot at breaking camp on the 25-man roster. He’s still got a ways to go, especially when considering the standard Brewers development plan.
Another smaller pitcher than the Brewers have targeted in recent years, Taylor G. Williams at 5’11” still has managed to turn heads in the organization and out. He’s got a quality profile and pitch arsenal, and has been putting things together nicely to this point in his young pro career. 2014 saw Williams post a combined 2.72 ERA between Class-A Wisconsin and Class-A Advanced Brevard County. He appeared in 27 games, making 17 starts. Williams pitched to a FIP and SIERA both until 3.00 as well, showing that the peripherals are supportive of his strong season as opposed to being red flags of regression. Williams kept his WHIP at 1.02 on the year as well, along with striking out 137 hitters in 132.1 innings pitched.
At times, shorter pitchers have trouble keeping the ball down effectively. While it’s hardly an exact illustration of his ability, Williams allowed just eight home runs all of last year. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.89 is high quality as well.
The bottom line is that Williams is jumping up Top Prospects lists around the industry. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on over the next year or two. He could force his way onto the 40-man roster by way of call up before he needs its protection.
Last year in this same “Bonus” article, I told you that Cameron Garfield is not simply “organizational catcher guy” who comes to big league camp for a couple of weeks while extra pitchers are in camp too.
Garfield, now 23, played in 95 games a year after appearing in 109. He repeated Class-A Advanced Brevard County and did see his offensive numbers slip a bit year over year. It can’t ever be forgotten that the Gulf Coast League is tough on hitters though Garfield certainly has room to grow at the plate as he continues to improve behind it.
A second round draft pick in 2009, Garfield is a bit behind where he’d normally be because of some significant injuries early in his professional career. But he is a guy to which the Brewers will give plenty of opportunities to realize his potential. Catching is always a premium.
Another catcher who repeats in this bonus column all the way down to his uniform numbers, Adam Robert Weisenburger continues to carry the reputation as a very good receiver. Weisenburger caught most of 2014 as Double-A Huntsville before moving up to Triple-A in August after their top backstop (Matt Pagnozzi, now with the Diamondbacks) got a September call up.
Weisenburger posted offensive numbers roughly in line with where you’d hope a quality receiver/second catcher could consistently put up. As a 34th round draft pick, if he’s able to get there one day, that would be a big win for the Brewers development staff.
The only new-to-the-organization guy in this column, Matthew Eugene Long is a primary outfielder who has played some second base as well. Drafted by the Angels in the 30th round back in 2009, the California native has played as high as Class-AAA each of the last three seasons. His career Triple-A slash line is .279/.358/.442 over 1102 plate appearances across 262 games.
Long has played the majority of his games in the outfield the last two seasons, after playing mostly at second base in 2012. It’s been a return to familiar ground for Long who spent all of his time in the outfield from 2009-2011. Long even found a handful of games at the hot corner last year at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Versatility is the key for many minor leaguers, and if Long is to one day make his major league debut, being able to fill in at multiple positions is one way he might be able to get there. For now, he looks ticketed to the thin aired outfield in Colorado Springs to start the season.
You can follow all of the players profiled in this article on Twitter.
- #75 – Tyler Cravy: @TylerJayCravy
- #74 – Hobbs Johnson: @hojo31
- #73 – Taylor Williams: @twillyflash
- #72 – Cameron Garfield: @CAMgGARFIELD
- #71 – Adam Weisenburger: @aweisenburger
- #70 – Matt Long: @MattELong
So there you have it. We’re caught up to today with #68 Ariel Peña coming later.
This is a list I’m parking here, basically for my own reference, because the Brewers.com website isn’t updated yet.
Here is list, broken down by position, of the announced non-roster invitees that will be initially assigned to the big league side at Spring Training 2015. I’ll update the list as players are added and do my best to remember to do the same when they are reassigned.
- Tyler Cravy
- Hobbs Johnson (L)
- Brent Leach (L)
- Ariel Peña
- Taylor Williams
- Dontrelle Willis (L)
- Nevin Ashley
- Parker Berberet
- Cameron Garfield
- Adam Weisenburger
- Pete Orr
- Matt Long
- Bryan Petersen
Opening Day is here for the minor leagues!
What follows are the announced rosters for each of the full-season minor-league affiliates for the Milwaukee Brewers, broken down by position group.
Class-AAA Affiliate (Twitter: @nashvillesounds)
Manager: Rick Sweet
28 Total Players
- Michael Blazek (Twitter: @MichaelBlazek34)
- Hiram Burgos (Twitter: @Burgos196)
- Jose De La Torre
- Mike Fiers (Twitter: @Fiers64)
- Alfredo Figaro
- Donovan Hand (@DonovanHand)
- Kyle Heckathorn (@KyleHeckathorn)
- Johnny Hellweg
- Brad Mills
- Dustin Molleken
- Jimmy Nelson (@Jimmy_J_Nelson)
- Ariel Peña
- Rob Wooten (@RobWooten35)
- Irving Falu (@irvingfalu)
- Hector Gomez
- Taylor Green
- Sean Halton (@SeanHalton11)
- Elian Herrera
- Hunter Morris (@HunterMorris15)
- Pete Orr
- Stephen Parker
- Eugenio Velez
- Caleb Gindl
- Jeremy Hermida
- Kevin Mattison (@stachemaster4)
Class-AA Affiliate (Twitter: @HuntsvilleStars)
Manager: Carlos Subero
28 Total Players
- Tyler Cravy (@TylerJayCravy)
- Drew Gagnon (@Dgags24)
- David Goforth (@DavidGoforth7)
- Brooks Hall
- Greg Holle (@GHolle44)
- Taylor Jungmann
- Brent Leach (@brentle24)
- Arcenio Leon
- Johnnie Lowe (@jlowe390)
- Eric Marzec (@MarzMLB)
- Casey Medlen (@cmeds13)
- Andy Moye (@AMoye22)
- Kevin Shackelford (@Shackeldaddy)
- Brent Suter (@bruter24)
- Joey Paciorek
- Adam Weisenburger (@aweisenburger)
- Shawn Zarraga
- Greg Hopkins (@StJonnyHopkins)
- Josh Prince (@JoshPrince17)
- Nick Ramirez (@N_Ramirez33)
- Jason Rogers (@jasonrogers2003)
- Nick Shaw (@NShaw3)
- Hainley Statia (@HStatia4)
- Shea Vucinich
- Kentrail Davis
- Mitch Haniger (@M_Hanny19)
- Brock Kjeldgaard
- D’Vontrey Richardson
Class-A Advanced Affiliate (Twitter: @BCManatees)
Manager: Joe Ayrault
26 Total Players
- Jacob Barnes (@j_barnes30)
- Jed Bradley (@Jed_Bradley)
- Hobbs Johnson (@hojo31)
- Jorge Lopez (@yabiee18)
- Damien Magnifico (@D_Magno32)
- Stephen Peterson (@SPetey22)
- Chad Pierce (@pierce_chad)
- Tanner Poppe (@TannerPoppe)
- Austin Ross
- Michael Strong (@Strong_Mike1188)
- Tommy Toledo (@TommyToledo13)
- Martin Viramontes (@martilious19)
- Tyler Wagner (@_TylerWagner_)
- Orlando Arcia
- Garrett Cooper (@CoopaLoop1)
- Michael Garza (@Miguelito_G_21)
- Brandon Macias (@Cias12)
- Nathan Orf (@NateOrf4)
- Yadiel Rivera (@YADIELRIVERA13)
- Alfredo Rodriguez (@Arodss2)
- Jose Sermo (@j_weesy21)
Class-A Affiliate (Twitter: @TimberRattlers)
Manager: Matt Erickson
27 Total Players
- Tyler Alexander (@LilLefty12)
- Tristan Archer (@TRISTAN_archer)
- Barrett Astin (@BarrettAstin17)
- Victor Diaz
- Rodolfo Fernandez (@cuba900321)
- Preston Gainey (@friendpresto)
- Tyler Linehan (@tylinny39)
- Harvey Martin (@Martin_Time15)
- Zach Quintana (@Slummdog)
- Chris Razo (@RazBerry02)
- Trevor Seidenberger (@trev15berger)
- Tyler Spurlin (@TyroneG4)
- Taylor Williams (@TWilly_KSU)
- Francisco Castillo
- David Denson (@_DavidD_41)
- Steven Halcomb
- Chris McFarland (@cmcfarland116)
- Angel Ortega
- Taylor Smith-Brennan (@TaylorBrennan88)
Despite my pleas for expediency, the Milwaukee Brewers just announced their jersey number updates for 2014 on Wednesday, January 22nd. That’s 66 days away from Opening Day already.
Veteran readers know how this works. As we count down to Opening Day for the Milwaukee Brewers, I preview a different player on certain days along the way. Those days are determined by the jersey number that the player will be wearing while in big league camp.
The reason for this bonus article is that, as mentioned above, a lot of players were announced after the day on which they would have otherwise had their individual article written and posted.
These won’t be in-depth profiles of these players but I wanted to make sure you knew a little something about them before camp opens and you see their names popping up in box scores.
David P. Goforth was a 7th round draft pick out of the University of Mississippi back in 2011. He’s a full-term college guy and enters 2014 as a 25-year-old who has seen time at four different levels of the minor leagues. He has started more than he has relieved, but that was by design in part so he could develop his pitching arsenal. It was finally at Double-A Huntsville this past season when he began he transition to the bullpen. The Brewers had him targeted for that move anyway, and it should definitely assist him in his possible ascent to the MLB roster.
Goforth’s statistical measurements have shown that the move looks like a wise one. His K/9, HR/9, H/9, WHIP, and more have taken moves in a positive direction as Goforth has performed in shorter outings. Goforth has increased his profile through his production and he’s earned this NRI designation heading to camp in 2014. He won’t break camp with the Brewers, not that anyone is expecting him to, but the experience will be valuable as he could very well start the regular season as Nashville’s closer.
For the purposes of Spring Training, Triple-A phase Rule V Draft Pick Kevin Robert Mattison will be just a “camp body” insofar as he doesn’t have any non-catastrophic injuries chance of making the 25-man roster. That shouldn’t lend itself to your disliking the acquisition of Mattison by Brewers GM Doug Melvin back at the end of the Winter Meetings.
Mattison, 6’1″, 195lbs, is already 28 years old and has a total of five big league plate appearances (all in 2012 for Miami) and last year for the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs he only hit .216/.293/.662 but he wasn’t grabbed for his offensive potential anyway. Mattison is a veteran of 606 minor league games over six season, including 563 in centerfield and 21 each in the corner spots. Basically, he’ll be the new Logan Schafer for Nashville in 2014 and someone who could hold his own defensively at the MLB level in a pinch.
Friend of Brewer Nation, outfielder Mitch Haniger has had his share of publicity around these parts. He’s definitely turning heads on the field as well. Signed as a college junior in 2012, Haniger was taken with the 38th overall pick. He signed and hit the field, being assigned directly to the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers but an injury cost him some games in 2012. As a result, Haniger began 2013 again in Wisconsin. After 41 games of very strong offensive production, Haniger made the jump up to Class-A Advanced.
As a Manatee, Haniger’s numbers took an mostly expected dip. After all, the Florida Gulf Coast League is notoriously difficult for hitters. Still, given his numbers to begin the year and his continued gains in development throughout 2013, the Brewers tapped the prospect as their “preferred” designee to the Arizona Fall League. While there, Haniger rebounded as one would expect. He posted .280/.354/.480 in 100 at-bats over 25 games.
Haniger does profile defensively as more of a corner outfielder, so his ability to reach the Majors will likely hinge on how much more his bat advances over the course of the next couple of seasons.
Suffice it to say, the Brewers are confident in the current trend.
Back in big league camp again this year, Michael Olmsted was the last player “cut” in 2013 as the Brewers opted to bring Alfredo Figaro north as the long reliever. The reasons Olmsted was acquired last off-season are chronicled on last year’s post so I won’t rehash them, but his 2013 campaign wasn’t ultimately what either side hoped for.
Olmsted made 49 appearances at Class-AAA Nashville. Across 52.1 innings pitched, he allowed 39 earned runs and posted a 1.796 WHIP. He did strike out 52 hitters and allowed only six home runs but he walked 40 on top of the 54 hits he allowed. All told, his 6.71 ERA got him demoted finally in mid-August. He finished the year at Class-AA Huntsville.
To his credit, his small sample size as a Star was a very strong one. That, with his natural ability and potential, has garnered him an encore appearance on the big league fields.
Olmsted was outrighted off of the 40-man roster this off-season though. Add in the other options and a Rule V pick and making the 25-man roster this spring will prove harder than last year.
Speaking of players on a second consecutive go ’round, Kentrail Latron Davis is back to fill some outfield innings for Ron Roenicke early on in Cactus League play.
Davis is 5’9″ tall and weighs 200 pounds, but just continues to swing the bat as he’s moved up the organizational ladder. He hits left-handed and enters 2014 as a 25-year-old fringe prospect.
After beginning the 2013 season in the Huntsville Stars’ outfield, Davis hit well enough (.266/.372/.405 over 88 games) to get promoted to Class-AAA Nashville on July 11th. You may recognize that day as the one where Khris Davis was promoted to the big leagues for the balance of last year. That left an open spot in Nashville’s outfield and Kentrail Davis got the call.
With Nashville, Kentrail post a slash line of .270/.353/.367 and his rates took a hit as he began to adjust to the increased level of competition.
The outlook for 2014 is starting in Nashville and being available should the need arise. He’ll obviously continue to develop his game as well, but he could be the next Caleb Gindl in terms of waiting for his shot with Milwaukee.
Look, here’s the deal with non-roster invites for catchers. Early on in camp, every team needs a lot of catchers. There is a plethora of pitchers throwing and they need guys to receive those throws. However, unlike some, Cameron Garfield is not simply “organizational catcher guy” coming to big league camp for a couple of weeks.
On the contrary, Garfield (6’1″, 195lb) is just 22 years old and appears poised to take a big developmental step after staying mostly healthy in 2013. He played in 109 games, all for Class-A Advanced Brevard County. As noted above under the Mitch Haniger mini-profile, the GCL is awful to hitters and Garfield’s posted .250/.280/.379 should improve a bit as he gains more experience and possibly moves up a level.
Garfield has long been a higher profile prospect. That will happen when you’re a second round draft pick. He’s a name to know eventually though as he still projects for a major league career down the road.
Speaking of catchers, Adam Robert Weisenburger also is above the line of “just another receiver”. Weisenburger was listed as the Brewers’ best defensive catcher in the system entering 2013. If he is to reach the majors one day, it’ll be as a defensive-minded backup, but for a 34th round draft pick, that’s not a bad place to end up.
As for camp, he’ll share time with Garfield, Robinzon Diaz, and Matt Pagnozzi. Unlike last year, however, Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado won’t be leaving camp for the World Baseball Classic so he may end up seeing less game time in the end.
Dustin Scott Molleken is a 6’4″, 230 lb right-handed pitcher. He’s 29 years old and spent parts of the last two seasons pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese Pacific League before returning stateside to finish last year with the Nashville Sounds.
Nashville got 14.1 innings and a 3.14 ERA out of Molleken in 10 games, even picking up a Save along the way.
This is the first chance that the big league staff will have to look at him, so while he won’t make the team out of Spring Training he certainly has plenty of incentive to perform well.
Finally, to the man who should have received a full write-up on January 23 before my time was consumed with all things Matt Garza this morning and getting all of these mini-previews written up this evening, around my other real life commitments.
Eugenio (eh-u-HEN-ee-oh) Velez was signed to a minor league deal by the Brewers in late July of last year after being released by the Toronto Blue Jays. Velez is now 31 years old and comes to big league camp by way of an official invite as part of his new contract with Milwaukee.
Velez had hit .270/.372/.437 for the Buffalo Bisons (Toronto’s AAA affiliate) before his release, but he got to Nashville and was red hot. He posted a .377/.437/.523 and scored 23 runs in just 38 games. He stole bases at a 75% clip for Nashville, which was a slight drop from his 80.8% rate in Buffalo.
Still, after being touted as simple “organizational depth” when signed last year, Velez certainly did enough to earn himself the camp invite this year. He’s not exactly a player oozing with potential anymore, but in a pinch he could fill a void as a backup utility man.
And “utility” is certainly applicable. Listed as an outfielder on Milwaukee’s depth chart, Velez has seen time defensively at every position except for catcher and first base during his 11 minor league seasons. Velez has 520 games in the infield (with 336 of those at second base) and 311 games in the outfield (of which 117 are in centerfield).
Again, barring a slew of injuries, he won’t break camp with Milwaukee but as a potential short-term fill in during the 2014 regular season, he could have value.
You can follow many of the players profiled in this article on Twitter.
- David Goforth: @DavidGoforth7
- Kevin Mattison: @stachemaster4
- Mitch Haniger: @M_Hanny19
- Michael Olmsted: @mikeolmsted52
- Cameron Garfield: @CAMgGARFIELD
- Adam Weisenburger: @aweisenburger
So there you have it. We’re caught up to current with #66 Robinzon Diaz on tap by himself for Friday, January 24th.
Earlier today, the Brewers finally announced the jersey numbers that the players coming to big league camp will be wearing whilst at Maryvale.
The majority of the players who saw time at the MLB level in 2013 have not changed numbers, though two did. One coach gave up his number for a player. And of course the newest acquisitions and non-roster invitees all need number assignments as well.
Here are all the changes. (Keep in mind that my uniform number repository only counts players wearing a specific number while on the big league roster. I’ll update those pages after camp breaks.)
New Players on 40-Man Roster:
- #50 – Jose De La Torre
- #63 – Brooks Hall
- #60 – Kevin Shackelford
- #13 – Will Smith
- #51 – Wei-Chung Wang
- #25 – Hunter Morris
- #61 – Jason Rogers
- #3 – Elian Herrera
Players on 40-Man Roster Last Year With New Numbers:
- #30 – Tyler Thornburg (switched from #63)
- #38 – Wily Peralta (switched from #60)
- #58 – Ariel Pena (switched from #73)
Both New Non-Roster Invitees (Players on MiLB contracts invited to big league camp) and Repeat Invitees w/New Numbers:
- #59 – Zach Duke
- #77 – David Goforth
- #70 – Dustin Molleken
- #66 – Robinzon Diaz
- #72 – Cameron Garfield
- #68 – Matt Pagnozzi
- #71 – Adam Weisenburger (switched from #91)
- #65 – Irving Falu
- #24 – Lyle Overbay
- #7 – Mark Reynolds
- #67 – Eugenio Velez
- #73 – Kentrail Davis (switched from #93)
- #75 – Mitch Haniger
- #76 – Kevin Mattison
Each year, for quite some time now, prospects from every MLB organization come together to form six teams which compete over the course of about 5.5 weeks in the Arizona Fall League.
This year the AFL runs from October 8 through the league championship game on November 16. The annual All-Star Game, appropriately dubbed the “Fall Stars Game” will be held on November 2.
Brewers prospects will be a part of a new team this year. After a few years as a part of the Peoria Javelinas and competing last year with the Phoenix Desert Dogs, Milwaukee’s contributions to roster composition will play their home games at Surprise Stadium as members of the Surprise Saguaros.
(For the record, a “Saguaro” is a large, tree-sized cactus which can grow to 66 feet in height and whose branches are shaped like candelabra.)
Brewers prospects will join prospects from the Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox.
The Brewers will be sending six players (and one Athletic Trainer, Steve Patera) to Surprise this fall. Here are the participants, broken down by position:
- David Goforth – RHP – Twitter: @DavidGoforth7 – (Highest Minor League level played at in 2013: Double-A)
- Taylor Jungmann – RHP – (Double-A)
- Kevin Shackelford – RHP – Twitter: @Shackeldaddy (Double-A)
- Jason Rogers – 1B – Twitter: @jasonrogers2003 – (Highest Minor League level played at in 2013: Double-A)
- Mitch Haniger – Twitter: @M_Hanny19 – (Highest Minor League level played at in 2013: Class A-Advanced)
- Adam Weisenburger – Twitter: @aweisenburger – (Highest Minor League level played at in 2013: Double-A)
Welcome, fellow Brewers fans, to the first “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” column for Series: 2013! Allow me to give you a brief reminder of how this works.
As we approach Opening Day on April 1, 2013, I will be reviewing/previewing players in the the Milwaukee Brewers organization that are either on the 40-man roster or have been given an invitation to big league camp in Spring Training. I won’t do every single non-roster invitee, but I plan on writing up most of them at this point. Basically, though, this is a way to focus on the individual members of the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Let us depart on our lengthy journey of discovery and remembrance!
First let me say that I realize that bonuses usually come at the end. In this case, it simply doesn’t work out that way.
The reason for this bonus article is that four players were announced after the day on which they would have otherwise had their individual article written and posted.
The players in question are Rafael Neda, Kentrail Davis, Hunter Morris, and Adam Weisenberger. They were assigned jersey numbers 94, 93, 92, and 91, respectively.
These won’t be in-depth profiles of these players but I wanted to make sure you knew a little something about them before camp opens and you see their names popping up in box scores.
#94 – Rafael Neda
Rafael Neda is a 24-year-old catcher who stands 6’1″ tall and weighed in last year at 215 pounds. He was born in Obregon, Mexico and played collegiate ball at New Mexico before the Brewers drafted him in the 10th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
He has never been touted for his bat which is reflected in his career minor-league slash line of .220/.314/.271, but he calls a good game and the pitchers I’ve spoken with that play with Neda all enjoy throwing to him. He is a good leader on the field and, presumably, in the clubhouse as well.
Neda played the entirety of the 2012 season at the Class-A affiliate Wisconsin Timber Rattlers based in Appleton, Wisconsin. The Timber Rattlers wound up winning the Midwest League Championship in 2012 and Neda’s gamesmanship played a large part in that championship run. While his catching skills helped a number of his early season teammates get their promotions up to Class-A Advanced Brevard County, his leadership helped hold the team together with new, young faces as they marched to postseason sucess.
I covered a game as a credentialed media member up in Appleton for one game (column here) back in June of last year and Neda was the offensive hero. He hit his first (and still only) professional home run during a rally inning and then won the game in extra innings with a walk-off single with the bases loaded.
Most young ballplayers in the minor leagues experiences flashes like that. It’s the gentlemen who can stack flashes together and reshape them into consistency that move up the organization and hopefully one day become Major League ballplayers.
To be blunt, Neda doesn’t fit the profile of someone who will ever excel enough behind or in front of the dish to become a big league regular. I have no doubt though that he’ll be a quality contributor this spring as pitchers hone their craft and that Neda won’t be going anywhere out of the Brewers system for as long as he wants to play. The term “organization guy” gets thrown out as a negative a lot of the times I see it used to describe someone, but in Neda’s case if that’s what he becomes, I think that the Brewers minor leaguers he plays with along the way will be that much better for it.
#93 – Kentrail Davis
An outfielder from Mobile, Alabama by way of the University of Tennessee, Kentrail Latron Davis (5’9″, B/T: L/R) reached the Double-A affiliate Huntsville Stars in 2012 following a strong showing in the 2011 Arizona Fall League.
Davis, 24, was originally drafted out of high school by the Colorado Rockies in 2007 but chose to go to college instead. The Brewers then picked him in the supplemental first round in 2009 (39th overall).
He struggled out of the gates in 2010 after being assigned straight to Class-A Advanced Brevard County to begin his professional career. After finishing out the 2010 season with the Timber Rattlers, where he hit very well, Davis spent all of 2011 back at Brevard County. His prospect status was in some doubt though after a lackluster season at the plate where he hit only .245/.317/.361 in 565 plate appearances. He was very good when he reached base though, stealing 33 bases in 41 attempts (80% success rate), and scoring 76 runs.
In 2012, Davis was a Huntsville Star and perhaps being home in Alabama helped him relax. He finished the year with a .274/.357/.404 line in 498 plate appearances over 122 games. He has a ways to go before he’ll be under consideration for a 40-man roster spot (let alone a 25-man one) but if he can improve his vision and discipline he has the chance to perhaps contribute one day in a reserve OF role at the big league level.
Of note: Davis is ranked as the 11th best prospect in the Brewers system entering 2013 by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.
#92 – Hunter Morris
After an inauspicious start to the year, Morris, 24, turned on the power in a big way in the second half of the season. He finished with the following statistics:
136 G, 571 PA, 522 AB, .303/.357/.563, 77 R, 158 H, 40 doubles, 6 triples, 28 HR, 294 total bases, 113 RBI, 2 SB, 40 BB, 117 K
Those numbers were good enough to win the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player Award! But the accolades wouldn’t stop there as Morris was also awarded the Minor League Gold Glove for first basemen. Yeah, out of all of them, spread over 10 “domestic-based, full-season leagues”, Morris was named the best fielder as his position.
Make no mistake though, Morris was drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Auburn University for his bat which is what will get him to the big leagues should he achieve such, but his developing defense would be a nice boost to his chances.
Morris has things that are often looked for in a prospect (he’s 6’2″, 200 lbs, for what it’s worth), but he also has some reports about the things that could hold him back. But if this power remains the norm and he can increase his walk rate, the Brewers might be looking to add his left-handed swing and glove to their everyday lineup as early as 2014.
In a recent radio appearance, Brewers GM Doug Melvin said that they’re going to watch Morris closely this spring as their evaluation of him very well could impact their long-term decision about the future of the now incumbent 1B Corey Hart in Milwaukee who is only signed through the end of the upcoming 2013 season.
No pressure, kid.
Of note: Morris is ranked the #7 overall Brewers prospect by MLB.com, and is #4 on the overall list of first base prospects in the minor leagues entering 2013.
#91 – Adam Weisenburger
After being chosen as the Best Defensive Catcher in the Brewers system by Baseball America, Adam Robert Weisenburger will enter big league camp in 2013 much like the rest of the players in this article. That is to say that none of them stand a chance of breaking camp with a plane ticket to Milwaukee in hand.
Don’t let that dissuade you from understanding how a guy like Weisenburger will be spending his time before being reassigned to the minor league fields at Maryvale.
Catching bullpens, working with some pitchers he’ll likely meet up with down the road in the 2013 MiLB season, and other things in preparation, but with starting big league catcher Jonathan Lucroy leaving camp to play with Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, there will be plenty of innings behind the dish in actual big league Spring Training games.
It’s why Neda is there. It’s why Weisenburger is there. It’s also why the Brewers have invited non-roster catchers Blake Lalli and Anderson De La Rosa and Dayton Buller to camp. To be clear, however, if Weisenburger lives up to the billing as the best defensive catcher in the system than he could see the bulk of the game time given to these youngsters.
Weisenburger split time in 2012 between Class-A Advanced Brevard County and Class-AA Huntsville. While he didn’t hit particularly well at either stop (less so as the competition got tougher), his ability to receive, throw, and call a game are what could further his advancement in the system. He’s an interesting case to watch this spring in whatever game action he’s afforded.
Physically, the Minnesota native is 5’10” and listed at 185 pounds. He bats right-handed. Weisenburger was drafted in the 34th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Miami University, in Ohio.