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.
List is subject to change but here’s the original list as released by the Brewers.
Orlando Arcia(canceled 1/30 due to illness)
- Jacob Barnes
- Yhonathan Barrios
- Michael Blazek
- Ryan Braun
- Keon Broxton
- Chris Carter
- Garin Cecchini
- Trent Clark
- Clint Coulter
Tyler Cravy(canceled 1/30 due to illness)
- Zach Davies
- Ramon Flores
- Matt Garza (added 1/20)
Scooter Gennett(removed 1/26 due a conflict)
- David Goforth
- Junior Guerra
- Josh Hader
- Adrian Houser
- Jeremy Jeffress
- Taylor Jungmann
- Corey Knebel
- Jorge Lopez
Damien Magnifico(canceled on 1/29 due to illness)
- Martin Maldonado
- Jimmy Nelson
- Shane Peterson
- Brett Phillips
- Michael Reed
- Domingo Santana
- Will Smith
- Tyler Thornburg
- Jonathan Villar (added 1/20)
Tyler Wagner(traded to ARI 1/30)
- Colin Walsh
- Craig Counsell
- Darnell Coles
- Joe Crawford
- Derek Johnson
- Marcus Hanel
- Jason Lane
- Pat Murphy
- Ed Sedar
- Carlos Subero
- Lee Tunnell
- Matt Erickson (Timber Rattlers manager)
- Don August
- Jerry Augustine
- Jeff Cirillo (added 1/21)
- Rollie Fingers
- Jim Gantner
- Larry Hisle
- Davey Nelson
- Ken Sanders (added 1/20)
- Gorman Thomas
- Greg Vaughn
- Paul Wagner (added 1/20)
Robin Yount(canceled 1/22 due to personal conflict)
Here is some additional information from the official release about Brewers On Deck:
Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children 14 and under. Tickets on the day of the event are $20 for adults and $15 for children 14 and under. On the day event, cash is the only accepted form of payment for admittance. A portion of the proceeds from Brewers On Deck will benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Tickets may be purchased at the Miller Park ticket office by calling the Brewers ticket office at (414) 902-4000 or online at Brewers.com/ondeck through Friday, January 29.
Once again, food donations will be accepted through Hunger Task Force. Donations can be dropped off at two main entrances to the Wisconsin Center, located at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, and 4th Street and Wells Street.
Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family. Autographs and photos from Brewers players, coaches and alumni; interactive games in the Kids Area; Q&A sessions and Klement’s Main Stage game shows with Brewers players, coaches and broadcasters; vendor booths with baseball memorabilia; Brewers Community Foundation’s Treasure Hunt, a 50/50 raffle, live auction and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.
During the event, the Brewers will unveil a new book – Explore MKE: Your Neighborhood Our City. The Book is published by SHARP Literacy, Inc. and is sponsored by Brewers Community Foundation and Ryan Braun. It tells the story of two children who share their differing experiences of Milwaukee and are attempting to figure out how they fit in. It also features informational sections that weave together iconic Milwaukee institutions and neighborhood-based landmarks with important themes in common.
SHARP Literacy, Inc. is a non-profit organization that enhances future life success by energizing urban children and motivating them to identify themselves as confident, capable scholars and lifelong learners by inspiring engagement in reading, writing and research through hands on interaction and visual arts.
Details regarding autographs include the following: Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced at a later date) will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan in attendance will receive one Premier Entry sheet which may be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside the Main Exhibit Hall of the Wisconsin Center. The Premier Entry sheet will be exchanged for a numbered coupon to be entered into the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players. Coupon distribution will be available at 8 a.m. the day of the event and will continue up to an hour before each designated autograph session. There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding winning coupons must pay $25 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature. There will be 250 winners for each of the autograph sessions. The winning ticket numbers will be posted at the designated autograph stage no less than 30 minutes prior to each player’s session.
Players and staff not included in the PREMIER autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted later. The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team. For additional information, visit Brewers.com/ondeck.
Autograph proceeds benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs. The Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player.
The Milwaukee Brewers selected four players in today’s Rule 5 Draft at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee. The team selected two players in the Major League phase. The Brewers did not lose a player in the Rule 5 Draft.
In addition, the team acquired 3B/OF Garin Cecchini from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for cash considerations. The announcement was made by General Manager David Stearns.
Cecchini, 24, spent most of the 2015 season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he batted .213 with 7 HR and 28 RBI in 117 games. The left-handed batter spent time defensively in left field, first base and third base at Pawtucket. Cecchini, who made his Major League debut with Boston in 2014, appeared in two games with the Red Sox in 2015. He has batted .229 (8-for-35) with 1 HR and 4 RBI in 13 career Major League games, including seven starts at third base. Cecchini was designated for assignment by Boston on December 4, 2015.
Cecchini (pronounced “chick-KEE-nee”) was selected by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. Over five minor-league seasons, Cecchini owns a .279 batting average with 28 HR and 231 RBI in 510 games. He was an All-Star in each of his first three seasons in the minors (New York-Penn League with Class-A Lowell in 2011; South Atlantic League with Class-A Greenville in 2012 and Carolina League with Class-A Salem in 2013). He participated in the 2013 MLB All-Star Futures Game for the U.S. Team at Citi Field.
Second baseman Colin Walsh was selected in the first round (fifth overall) of the Major League phase off the Triple-A Nashville roster of the Oakland Athletics. Walsh, 26, batted .302 with 39 doubles, 13 HR, 49 RBI and 124 walks in 134 games at Double-A Midland in 2015. Walsh, a switch hitter, played at Stanford University and was originally selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round of the 2010 First-Year Draft. He signed as a minor-league free agent with Oakland on April 10, 2014.
Right-handed pitcher Zack Jones was selected in the second round of the Major League phase off the Triple-A Rochester of the Minnesota Twins. Jones, 25, went 5-4 with a 4.18 ERA in 45 relief appearances between Class-A Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga this past season. Jones played at San Jose State and was originally drafted by Minnesota in the fourth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
Left-handed pitcher Mitch Lambson was selected in the first round of the Triple-A phase off the Double-A Mississippi roster of the Atlanta Braves. Lambson, 25, appeared with four teams between the Houston Astros organization and the Braves organization in 2015. He compiled a 3-2 record with a 2.35 ERA in 40 relief appearances between Double-A Corpus Christi, Triple-A Fresno, Triple-A Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi in 2015. He was traded from the Astros to the Braves organization on July 6, 2015. In five minor-league seasons, Lambson owns a 20-14 record with a 2.72 ERA in 166 relief appearances. He was originally selected by the Astros in the 19th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Right-handed pitcher Kender Villegas was selected in the second round of the Triple-A phase off the Double-A Springfield roster of the St. Louis Cardinals. Villegas, 22, appeared in 30 games (1 start) and compiled a 3-4 record with a 4.03 ERA across three levels in the Cardinals organization (Class-A Palm Beach, Class-A Peoria and Class-A State College in 2015). He was originally signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as a non-drafted free-agent on May 13, 2010.
The Brewers’ 40-man roster currently stands at 37 with the additions of Cecchini, Jones and Walsh.
Wondering who wore a certain uniform number all-time for the Milwaukee Brewers?
The Brewer Nation has got you covered. If you found this list on its own, head back here for the full repository after checking out this one.
Russ Snyder (’70)
Danny Walton (’71)
Frank Tepedino (’71)
Ron Clark (’72)
Syd O’Brien (’72)
Don Money (’73-’83)
Paul Householder (’85-’86)
Dale Sveum (’86-’91)
Dave Valle (’94)
Danny Perez (’96)
Brian Banks (’96-’98)
Sean Berry (’99-’00)
Tony Fernandez (’01)
Alex Sanchez (’01-’02)
Eric Young (’02-’03)
J.J. Hardy (’05-’09)
Chris Dickerson (’10)
Jeremy Reed (’11)
Felipe Lopez (’11)
Norichika Aoki (’12-’13)
Mark Reynolds (’14)
Logan Schafer (’15)
Colin Walsh (’16)
Jake Elmore (’16-Current)