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
Can you feel the excitement? Today is February, 6, 2016 and we’re just 58 days away from Opening Day on April 4th.
Today we profile a player who saw his stock rise in 2015 much like his jersey number did. After wearing #68 in big league camp last year, this year #58 belongs to…
What a difference a few months can make.
From being considered the third piece in the return when the Brewers traded Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Southern California, USA, Peña stands today as the only one left in the organization. First came the minor league free agency of Johnny Hellweg (following a lengthy rehab from Tommy John surgery) in which he decided to sign with the San Diego Padres organization. Then came the trade which sent centerpiece Jean Segura to the Arizona Diamondbacks (along with Tyler Wagner) for three different players.
Hellweg had control and command issues during his entire Brewers run (not to mention most of his professional career overall). Segura’s excellent debut and All-Star Game run looked extremely promising and while his defense continued to be a strength, his offense largely fizzled. So that leaves Peña who has had a history of command and control problems of his own but who took a step in the right direction by slashing his walk rate (in Class-AAA Colorado Springs of all places) to the lowest it had been since the first half of his 2012 Double-A season.
Some numbers still don’t look great but if you look at the improvements over 2014 and factor in the change in environments, there are enough encouraging signs to understand why Peña was called upon to finally make his Major League debut as a September call-up once the Sky Sox season ended.
Peña first appeared in relief but then started the rest of the way eventually appearing in six games and tossing 27.1 innings in the Show. He finished with a 4.28 ERA. He didn’t have a scoreless appearance and his walk rate jumped back up to 4.6. He did maintain a strong strikeout rate though as he K’d 27 batters in those 27.1 IP, putting his MLB number at 8.9 K/9 after he finished his minor league season with 83 K in 82.2 IP.
Out of minor league options, Peña is going to have to show something when camp opens in under two weeks at Maryvale. After all, he is the acquisition of the previous regime and is now 26 years old. Peña will be an inexpensive option to fill out the bullpen for 2016 and seems made for the long-relief/swingman role to begin the year. Then again, I’m very interested to see what new pitching coach Derek Johnson decides to do with Peña though. He could decide that short-relief, higher-leverage situations like 7th inning work make the most sense. There’s a chance that Peña’s command could be harnessed in a bit in shorter stints on the mound.
Regardless of the role, Peña still seems intriguing enough that the Brewers will want to keep him around to begin 2016 and see what they have in him over a long look at the big league level.
Follow Ariel on Twitter: @2Eltrabieso
Catch up on BBtJN ’16:
- Kickoff Column – #68-#78
- #63 – Junior Guerra
- #62 – Garin Cecchini
- #61 – Ramón Flores
- #60 – Keon Broxton
After having to write my bonus column today, you’ll forgive me if I end up cutting this one a bit shorter than I otherwise would.
That said, time is of the essence so let’s get right to the man who dons number 68…
Ariel Peña was the third piece of the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Dodgers. A big (6’3″, 240 lb) right-hander from the Dominican Republic, Peña carried with him a reputation of command problems. Just before the trade, he participated in the Rising Stars game on All-Star weekend. He got shellacked. The rest of his 2010 seemed to reflect some confidence issues.
The next year, Peña rebounded as he pitched a full season with Class-AA Huntsville. 2014 wasn’t as kind though.
Peña pitched to a 4.56 ERA in 128.1 innings across 25 games (24 starts). His FIP was 4.10 though his SIERA was 3.90. He wasn’t particularly unlucky as his opponent batting average on balls in play was .269 and he even returned to a great strikeout form tallying 140 on the year.
His biggest problems were a 5.3 BB/9 — which is painfully high — and a 20.4% line drive percentage, his career-worst by more than 4 percent.
Peña was outrighted to Triple-A in November of last year, which took him off of the 40-man roster and exposed him to the Rule 5 Draft. Perhaps it was his rough season that led to no one selecting him, but it also likely had something to do with the elbow injury that ended his season early.
Still just 25, the Brewers have experience with pitchers needing a while to “get it”. Peña still has a big fastball, but until he knows where it and his other pitches are going more often that he seems to now, he’ll never realize the potential he showed when he signed as an 18-year-old.
For now, the erratic Peña will be in big league camp as he’s still someone the organization would very much like to see succeed. Time isn’t infinite in the cases of baseball prospects, even prospects with Peña’s kind of heat.
Catch up on the countdown!
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)
Happy February, Brewer Nation.
Traditionally the most depressing month on the year, February has never been the doldrums for me. That’s because with February comes the three most beautiful words of the off-season: Pitchers and Catchers.
The official reporting date for Brewers pitchers and catchers is two weeks away from today. We aren’t here to count down to P&C though, are we?
As we sit 14 days away from Pitchers & Catchers on February 15th, we simultaneously sit 58 days away from Opening Day on March 31st. As such, we’ll take a look at the player who has decided to switch to jersey number 58 this year…
If you’re new to the blog and don’t know much about Ariel Peña and how he came to MLB and subsequently to the Milwaukee Brewers, I’ll direct you to last year’s profile of the man.
As for his play on the field, I’d like to reference an excerpt from last year’s column as a discussion point:
One report I found said that Peña was “underwhelming in person” and that while the Brewers are likely hoping for more due to Peña’s durable frame, the writer said that Peña profiles as a “prototypical 7th inning reliever.”
As with any player, the true outcome will be determined by how he adjusts to the increasing level of competition as he advances up an organizational chain. The road to The Show is littered with the arms of promising players who couldn’t adjust. I don’t feel that Peña’s lot will be that, but he must improve in 2013 over a 7.24 ERA in 7 starts over 32.1 IP in which he allowed 40 hits and 23 walks.
He’s got a bit of wildness to him that can’t be ignored but his big fastball (reportedly touching 98 MPH), low 90′s sinker, and “wipeout” slider would make for a repertoire that can hang in a starting rotation. The best part though is that Peña is still young enough to harness his stuff at some point and still have a long and productive MLB career.
When 2012 finished, Peña was a bit of an enigma. He carried a 2.99 ERA in the Angels system before coming to Milwaukee as a part of the Zack Greinke deal. You read above how he finished after the deal.
A full season in Milwaukee’s minor league system saw Peña turn things around a bit. He made 27 starts, threw 142.1 innings, and struck out 131 batters for a 8.3 K/9 rate. He also surrendered 79 walks (5.0 BB/9 and 1.66 K/BB ratio) and 17 home runs. His WHIP was 1.363 and his ERA finished at 3.73, though his FIP was over 4.50 and the BABIP he allowed was below league average.
In English, what most of those statistics are indicating is that Peña may have been luckier than good in arriving at some of his numbers in 2013.
For example, Peña did put up sizeable strikeout numbers, but he only generated swings on just over 10% of pitches thrown outside of the strike zone. For comparison, Michael Wacha of the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals generated swings on almost 17% of pitches outside the strike zone.
My point is that even though Peña seemed to gets things back under control in 2013, he’s hardly out of the woods and on his way to stardom in Milwaukee’s rotation. There’s still much to learn, much to refine, and much to improve upon.
Working in his favor is that he’ll begin the 2014 season still just 24 years old. There’s still time.
The clock is always ticking though, and in two short weeks the results of all the off-season work will begin to manifest itself.
Speaking of the off-season, Peña pitched briefly in the Dominican Winter League for Licey. He only pitched in two games in relief and recorded five outs, so the stats don’t exactly matter. The point is that he’s still working.
Soon enough it’ll be apparent how he’s benefited from it.
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #59 Zach Duke
- #60 Kevin Shackelford
- #61 Jason Rogers
- #63 Brooks Hall
- #64 Mike Fiers
- #65 Irving Falu
- #66 Robinzon Diaz
- BONUS COLUMN: #77 David Goforth, #76 Kevin Mattison, #75 Mitch Haniger, #74 Michael Olmstead, #73 Kentrail Davis, #72 Cameron Garfield, #71 Adam Weisenburger, #70 Dustin Molleken, #67 Eugenio Velez
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