Per the minor league watchdog Matt Eddy of Baseball America, the following players who finished 2012 in the Brewers’ system are now minor league free agents. Their contracts expired and they have not (at least not yet) agreed to new deals with Milwaukee.
RHP: Evan Anundsen (AA), Brian Baker (AAA), Josh Butler (AA), Mike McClendon (AAA), Amaury Rivas (AAA), Claudio Vargas (AAA)
LHP: Mitch Stetter (AAA), Philippe Valiquette (AA)
C: Humberto Quintero (AAA)
1B: Erick Almonte (AAA)
3B: Andy Gonzalez (AAA), Juan Sanchez (HiA)
SS: Domnit Bolivar (AA), Hainley Statia (AA)
OF: Jordan Brown (AAA), Corey Patterson (AAA)
The full post with all 30 MLB teams’ minor league free agents from Eddy is available here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/2012/11/minor-league-free-agents-2012/
You can follow Matt Eddy on Twitter: @eddymk
This installment in “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” marks the halfway point in the series.
I have written 23 parts, this is the 24th and I have 23 more to go before Opening Day.
It’s truly a labor of love.
That’s also what game of baseball at a professional level can be for many players. The passion is there but the breaks never go their way. The mind is willing but the flesh is weak. The body endures but the mind plays tricks.
It has been a career of miscommunication between body and mind for today’s subject:
The 2004 First-Year Player Draft has produced a member of the Milwaukee Brewers starting rotation. That starting pitcher, Yovani Gallardo, was drafted in the second round that year. The person drafted in the first round was Mark Elliot Rogers.
Drafted out of high school with the 5th overall pick in the draft, Rogers was described by Baseball America with the following scouting report:
“His fastball was so dominant against weak competition in Maine this spring that he struck out 99 in his first 38 innings, while allowing just three hits. Rogers’ lean, athletic build with room to fill out and get stronger. His fastball generally sits in the 90-95 mph range, with natural, hard running action and occasional bore. Rogers’ hammer curve has solid rotation with three-quarter break and excellent depth for his arm slot. He projects as a No. 2 or 3 starter.”
The problem with projections is that they can all be rendered moot without health; and Rogers simply has been unable to stay healthy.
Rogers first began to feel shoulder discomfort while pitching for the High-A affiliate at Brevard County in 2007. The subsequent off-season saw Rogers undergo shoulder surgery to repair a frayed labrum. Rogers still wasn’t healthy, however, and required a second surgery in 2008 to cleanup scar tissue around the site of the original surgery.
That second surgery had been put off for a while in part because Rogers was worried about needing a second surgery on the same injury. He may have felt his career was on the line. Fortunately the second surgery was a success and Rogers was finally able to begin to throw pain-free once his rehab was completed.
Rogers spent 2009 under a very restricted workload once again at Brevard County. He also threw in the Arizona Fall League after the regular season.
The next year began for Rogers in Huntsville at Double-A (he made one spot-start for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds during the year) and actually ended with Rogers’ big league debut. A far cry from missing two seasons of development.
Rogers pitched in four games for the Brewers, including two starts. His results were pretty good but the accomplishment of making it there at all should be the focus.
Now, finally, let’s take a look at Rogers 2011 season.
Following the trades for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, Rogers was resigned to begin the season in the minor leagues. An infamous pick-up game of basketball opened the door to a big league job.
Along with Amaury Rivas, Wily Peralta and, ultimately, Marco Estrada, Rogers’ spring all of a sudden became about possibly heading north on the 25-man roster.
Any guesses as to what cost Rogers the opportunity that Estrada turned into a season-long MLB job? If you guessed “injury” you’ve been paying attention.
Rogers’ Spring Training was slowed by shoulder stiffness early in camp so he wasn’t ready to go by the time the team needed a fill-in. Rogers began the season in the minors after all, but that wasn’t the worst of what would happen in 2011.
After that early shoulder stiffness, Rogers ended up battling dual carpal tunnel syndrome which would eventually require surgery to fix.
What else could go wrong, right? How about a 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant?
Rogers has addressed the situation this spring saying: “I felt stupid. Obviously, I regret what happened, but it falls on nobody’s shoulders but my own. I’m paying the penalty for it.”
He also explained that he was trying anything to salvage his season saying that “I took a supplement that wasn’t [approved]. I was surprised to get that phone call. But it’s definitely my fault. I take full responsibility for everything I put in my body, and I let that lapse.”
2012 was looking like it could be the end of Rogers’ time with the Brewers. Normally he’d have been out of minor league options to begin the year. However, with all the injuries and missed time, the Brewers petitioned the league for an additional option which was granted last fall.
What that means is that even though (and especially because) there aren’t any openings in the big league rotation this year, Rogers gets another season in the minors to hopefully stay healthy and refine his game so that when up to four jobs are available next spring, Rogers has the chance to compete and win one.
Rogers still has 6 games of his suspension left to serve, but should hopefully hit the ground running (or would that be hit the mound pitching?) once he’s allowed to.
In other words, Rogers needs to finally have lady luck turn in his favor in his professional career. He feels “significantly different” in his wrists and expects his command to rebound as a result.
Believe me when I say that as Brewers fans we’re breaking out the four-leafed clovers and rabbits feet.
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.