The Rule V Draft (long live the Roman numeral!) took place this morning in Nashville on the fourth day of the 2012 Winter Meetings.
There are three portions of the draft. MLB, AAA, and AA. If a player is taken in a particular portion of the draft, the player must then stick at that level for the balance of the 2013 season or be offered back to their original team.
In the Major League portion of the draft, the Milwaukee Brewers chose to pass with their selection. Doug Melvin had indicated that they were interested in one player but didn’t expect that player to still be available to select when it was their turn to pick. No one in the Brewers organization was selected by another organization during the MLB portion either.
The Triple-A portion got underway and the Seattle Mariners (led by Jack Zduriencik, of course) chose Eric Farris out of the Brewers organization. Farris has had a couple of brief turns with the Brewers but is primarily a second baseman and is blocked as a result in Milwaukee. The Brewers worked it out with Farris’ agent after Farris was outrighted off of the 40-man roster this fall to assign him to the Double-A roster making it easier for a team to select Farris and give him an opportunity. Had the Brewers assigned Farris to Triple-A Nashville, a team would have had to take him in the MLB portion.
It’s just another example of the Brewers organization doing right by its players. They didn’t have to give Farris that opportunity. But along with the fact that they prefer to play top prospect Scooter Gennett at 2B in Nashville in 2013, they realized that Farris deserved an opportunity and it wasn’t going to come here.
Kudos to Melvin, Zack Minasian & Dick Groch for their decision despite it resulting in the loss of one of my favorite Brewers minor leaguers to root for.
***UPDATE: Eric Farris tweeted out a message following his selection by Seattle.***
Thank you to the Brewers and their fans 4 the love andoverwhelming support throughout my career! Lookin forward to the future w/ #Seattle
— Eric Farris (@eRoc86) December 6, 2012
On September 1st each baseball season, teams are allowed to carry a MLB roster of up to 40 players. This is as opposed to the standard 25.
Teams almost always promote at least a player or two though the outside amount seems to have something to do with their postseason aspirations. If you’re in the hunt for October you don’t want several inexperienced hands trying to find their way during a pennant race, for example.
The Milwaukee Brewers aren’t exactly in that position this season.
Sure they opened the day 7.5 games behind the brand new second Wild Card berth, and start things have happened as recently as last year, but to call it “unlikely” is quite fair.
In part due to their record and in part because of the situational circumstances for certain player (i.e. shutting down Mark Rogers due to an innings limitation), the Brewers will probably be calling up a healthy group of their higher-end minor league talent.
Infielder Eric Farris was a lock to be recalled in my opinion but was already called up to the 25-man roster yesterday after Cody Ransom was claimed off waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks. I also expect the Brewers to help out all three areas in a couple of days when the Triple-A regular season has concluded.
For the bench I would be shocked if infielder Taylor Green and outfielder Logan Schafer weren’t recalled. I do think they’re likely to call up outfielder Caleb Gindl as well.
In the pitching side there is an opening in the starting rotation with the aforementioned exclusion of Rogers. Not coincidentally at all, right-hander Wily Peralta made his final start of the season for the Nashville Sounds on the same night Rogers was making his last for the Brewers in 2012.
Along with Peralta, you can expect Tyler Thornburg to come back up and start once or twice add the season winds down.
I would normally expect Mike McClendon to be rewarded for a long season with a recall but he was taken off the 40-man roster the most recent time he was sent back to Nashville.
Any other bullpen help would likely come from outside the current 40-man composition but the Brewers can add as many as three players to it right now should they choose to do so.
I do think they’ll add coverage though so perhaps someone will get an add. Maybe Brandon Kintzler, Donovan Hand, Rob Wooten, John Lowe, maybe even Hiram Burgos…just some names to think about.
Regardless of who gets to don a Brewer uniform for the rest of the year, there should be plenty of reasons to continue to pay attention if only to see these guys get some playing time.
So, those are my thoughts. Anybody I forgot about? Who do you think should come up? Why?
It’s been quite a while since someone wrote on the blog here other than me, the primary author. This was submitted by my podcast co-host for your enjoyment back near the beginning of August. My crazy schedule led to my forgetting to get it posted until now.
With that said, certain information is “as of writing” and should be taken as such (i.e. Izturis wasn’t yet traded).
By: Cary Kostka
The Brewers were selling in the days leading up the non-waiver trade deadline sending us all on a “what now” path for the rest of this season, as well as what to look for next season. Although this is largely seen as a step backwards for the organization, I see this as an opportunity for the team to be better down the road.
The Brewers have the next couple of months to evaluate their current roster and newly acquired players, and like most Brewer fans I have my own theory as to how the next couple of months should play out.
I broke it down into the following categories: starting pitching, bullpen, catching, infield, and outfield.
The injuries we have seen over the course of the season have given us long looks at Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers, as well as a touch of Tyler Thornburg mixed in.
The Brewers acquired a couple of arms in the Zack Greinke deal, and a bullpen arm in the George Kottaras deal. But what will the rotation look like for now?
Below I have two rotations: one for August, and one for September. You will notice that the September rotation has six pitchers listed. This is not a mistake on my part…I see a 6 man September rotation as a great way to take a look at some additional young arms. With Shaun Marcum’s impending free agency and Randy Wolf’s option possibly not being picked up, the make-up of the 2013 rotation is in the air.
So, here are my projected rotations (not in any particular order) for the rest of 2012.
August rotation: Yovani Gallardo, Wolf, Estrada, Fiers, Marcum/Mark Rogers.
Marcum is still a question mark at this point, and him being moved to the 60-day DL means that he will not be available until the last third of August. He has been feeling good in simulated outings, so I would imagine he would be back in time for a late August start.
September rotation: Gallardo, Wolf, Marcum, Estrada, Fiers, Rogers/Wily Peralta.
Go to a 6-man rotation in September, and in the 6th spot, alternate starts between Peralta and Rogers. Peralta has been pitching much better lately for Nashville (5-2, 3.06 ERA in his last 10 starts).
With his arm fatigue, Thornburg would be best served spending September on the bench or in limited bullpen duty.
What a thorn in the side of the 2012 season this bunch turned out to be. Let’s face it; the bullpen was a heaping load of mediocrity this year.
Try to deal K-Rod if you can…if not, park him at the ass end of the bullpen. I think John Axford will be fine, and a new bullpen coach will help here. The loss of veterans LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito hurt him this year, as he leaned on both of them for advice and instruction (Hawkins in particular).
Below is how the roles should shake out for both August and September.
Closer: Axford and Jim Henderson. Keep throwing Ax out there, but let Henderson continue to get work in as a closer.
Setup/General Relief: Whatever the situation dictates.
Lefty Specialist: Manny Parra Longman/mop-up: Livan Hernandez
Same as August, except you add Rogers and Peralta to the bullpen mix when they are between starts. Park K-Rod and Hernandez on the bench, and let’s see what our newly acquired arms (Pena, Hellweg, and De Los Santos) can do. Thornburg could help here as well, but that depends on how his arm is responding to rest. I’d like to see how Rogers would do in the setup role.
Ok, so this one is easy.
Lucroy is back, but I say split his playing time with Maldonado 60/40. Catchers are the baseball equivalent to NFL running backs; they have short shelf lives due to constant wear and tear. There is no sense in “using up” Lucroy in a non-playoff season. Also, this gives Maldonado a great chance to continue his growth. This pair will be one of the best catching tandems in baseball next season.
Corey Hart is here to stay as our first baseman at least for this season. With Aramis Ramirez entrenched at third, the big questions arise in the middle of the infield.
Rickie Weeks has had just shy of two months of production this year, and shortstop had been ok defensively but a black hole in the lineup, sans Cody Ransom’s innate ability to seemingly make every one of his few and far between hits a game changer.
My thoughts on this are to send Izturis packing…he is not a long term option, and the team would be better off if newly acquired Jean Segura was promoted and started. Jeff Bianchi would be called up on September 1st, and would see some time at short as well.
At second, we’re basically stuck. Would the team be able to find a place on the 25-man roster for Eric Farris? I’d like to see what he’s got, though he projects as more of a backup type player. I would like to see Taylor Green get more playing time to get a better feel for what he is capable of, or not capable of doing. I feel this is something the team needs to know going into next season.
Mat Gamel will be a question mark next season, and if Green shows he can hit, 1B could be a little less of a question mark in spring training, and would allow the team to confidently move Hart back to right. Hart has done pretty well at first, but next season will be the final year of his contract. It would be good to know our other options at that first.
I have heard speculation about giving Green more time at second, but that would be a mistake given his concrete boot like range at second.
Travis Ishikawa maintains his current role on the team.
Trade or waive Nyjer Morgan. He does not have a place on this team at all. I would much rather see Caleb Gindl or Logan Schafer get some MLB trigger time.
Ryan Braun is a lock in left (duh).
The mechanical adjustments Carlos Gomez made recently have upped his game to a new level. Make him the sole starter in center and see where this takes him.
Norichika Aoki has played great and is a lock in right. Call up Gindl as a reserve outfielder, as he has logged double digit games in all three OF spots. Schafer gets the call up on September 1st.
So, Brewer Nation, what say you?
The Brewers are acutely aware that the next nine games have major implications to not only the remainder the 2012 regular season but also potential impact on the direction of the franchise to a degree.
Decision Day is rapidly approaching as I laid out several days ago.
To this end, the team is taking this stretch of games very seriously.
First, despite Thursday of this week being the final day of the All-Star break the Brewers organized a full-squad workout instead. They are making the most of the opportunity to no doubt review the fundamental aspects of the game which at times seem to be forgotten in the heat of the moment. From not remembering the count at the plate to not remembering how many outs there are when playing defense, from breaking from second on a ground ball hit in front of you to not hitting the cut-off man on a throw home, from not picking up your coaches while running the bases to missing a sign and being caught unaware.
Therefore, it is great news because it shows that the org recognizes how important a strong second half start is. If you go even 5-4 over the next nine games, you may as well sell. Even going 6-3 probably relies on the other teams in front of the Brewers losing more than three in the same span.
Making a push is easier when you have better players (or at least players more capable of contributing) on your roster making that push.
We already knew back on Sunday that Taylor Green had been optioned to Triple-A Nashville in order to get some playing time and restart his bat but we didn’t know who would be coming up other than that manager Ron Roenicke had said it would be a bat. I guessed Eric Farris because I figured they’d want a right-handed hitter for the infield and Farris was already a member of the 40-man roster.
I was right about the right-handedness and the infielder parts, but wrong about who was coming.
Jeff Bianchi, a shortstop hitting .305 for the Sounds at the time of his promotion, had his contract selected instead. It makes sense that they would take a chance on Bianchi (said “be-YAIN-key”) because if he can contribute at the big league level he could solidify the position for next year.
Bianchi is a former top prospect in the Kansas City Royals’ system but his career was waylaid by some significant injuries. It will be interesting to see if he’s got what it takes.
But, Bianchi’s promotion required a opening be made on the 40-man roster. That was accomplished when Tim Dillard was outrighted to Nashville. Dillard, who has been outrighted off of a 40-man roster before, has the right to refuse the assignment and become a free agent. That decision is Dillard’s alone to make and no word has been released to that end yet.
Outrighting Dillard opened a spot on the 40-man but it also opened another spot on the 25-man roster and in the bullpen.
Taking that spot? Well that would be none other than Tyler Thornburg who has been recalled from Nashville following a sore wrist and one start (a Win) at that level.
Whew! Doug Melvin certainly knows how to keep things busy during the two of the slowest days in the sports calendar all year. Last year it was the post-All-Star Game acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez. This year a trio of interconnected moves to help the Brewers make one final mini-push before decisions simply MUST be made.
Will this year work like last year? Only time will tell.
But instead of waiting until September to find out we’ve only got but nine games in 10 days to wonder.
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.
Marty Pattin (’70-’71)
Mike Ferraro (’72)
Bob Gardner (’73)
Tom Bianco (’75)
Doc Medich (’82)
Jay Aldrich (’87, ’89)
George Canale (’89-’90)
Ron Robinson (’90-’92)
Troy O’Leary (’93-’94)
Ron Rightnowar (’95)
Jamie McAndrew (’95, ’97)
Bobby Hughes (’98)
Lyle Mouton (’99-’00)
Will Cunnane (’01)
Mark Sweeney (’01)
Jim Rushford (’02)
Curtis Leskanic (’03)
Wes Obermueller (’04-’05)
Carlos Villanueva (’06)
Johnny Estrada (’07)
Gabe Kapler (’08)
Wil Nieves (’11)
Eric Farris (’11-’12)
Chris Carter (’16-Current)
After a full three days off from the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers season preview series, we return on the day when the Milwaukee Brewers play their first Cactus League game of 2012.
Most likely by the time you read this, the Brewers will be underway against a San Francisco Giants split-squad in the first of three meetings this spring.
This is not about that, though. This is about a man whom I had the pleasure of interviewing for the Brewer Nation Podcast not too long ago and, more recently, of meeting in person at the Brewers’ On Deck event in downtown Milwaukee:
Starting second baseman Rickie Weeks was injured while running out a ground ball on July 27, 2011. With no immediate backup plan in place for a club with post season aspirations, and the trade deadline looming, General Manager Doug Melvin got to work on finding a trade target, eventually acquiring Jerry Hairston, Jr. from the Washington Nationals.
Before that, and I refuse to acknowledge the useless trade made in between, the team had an immediate need for someone that could backup at second base. Enter Eric Michael-Jay Farris.
The 40-man rosteree was called up to the big leagues immediately upon learning that Weeks would miss considerable time. Farris left his Nashville Sounds teammates behind in Oklahoma City and embarked for Milwaukee.
Farris entered the Milwaukee clubhouse and found jersey number 33 hanging in his locker. He said that he had no hand in choosing the number, and that he normally has worn a single-digit jersey throughout his career. Ironically enough, Farris’ birthday is March 3rd (3/3) so the number holds meaning anyway.
His experience in the big leagues is special and only made him hungry for a return trip and permanent stay despite coming up empty in his only big league at-bat.
The story of Farris’ 2011 season comes in the minors. He played a full season with the Nashville Sounds outside of his Miller Park visit. His numbers, in 134 games, totaled: 538 at-bats, 70 runs scored, 146 hits (26 doubles, five triples, six home runs), 55 runs batted in, 21 stolen bases in 28 attempts, 70 strikeouts, and 32 walks. His slash line was .271/.317/.372 as he produced 14 sacrifice hits, four sacrifice flies, and was hit by a pitch six times.
Farris produced all of those statistics while batting from his exclusive right side. He also throws right-handed while in the field where he is considered to be a wonderful defensive player at second base.
It was his play at shortstop, however, that raised some eyebrows with fans. Blocked by the aforementioned Weeks at second, Farris’ best path to the majors in Milwaukee is by offering some defensive flexibility. Farris experimented at short in 25 games in 2011, his first time there since appearing in two games there in 2009 for the High-A affiliate Brevard County Manatees.
If Farris can become a passable shortstop (he had eight errors in just 111 chances in 2011), a goal which he says he’s been told that he will continue to pursue in 2012, Farris could be considered a front-runner for a bench role with the Brewers in 2013. He’d also be in line as the first call up from the minors should an injury occur to either of the starting middle infielders.
Farris has soft hands though he lacks elite arm strength to ever be a long-term starter at short or third, but getting to the ball and making the routine play is enough as a fill-in and occasional starter should the need arise.
Second base is Farris’ home for a reason but versatility can be the key that unlocks the door to a job in the bigs coming off the bench in the National League. That is evidenced by the likely backups this season for Milwaukee. Cesar Izturis looks to be the primary backup at shortstop and can play second and third bases as well. Taylor Green and Brooks Conrad both have experience at first, second, and third.
So keep your eyes and ears tuned to Farris this spring and during the regular season as well to see not only how he’s hitting, but pay particular attention to where he plays defensively and how he performs.
It’s February 15th. It’s 51 days away from Opening Day.
Enough opening. Let’s cut right to the chase.
Number 51 on the countdown is the proud owner of one of the best names in the Brewers organization, if not the entirety of baseball:
While Zelous Lamar Wheeler only joined Twitter a few short weeks ago, Twitter was the place last season where several of his biggest supporters started a hashtag that permeated the general consciousness of Brewers-themed tweets. That hashtag is #ZealotsForZelous.
A zealot is defined as a fanatic. Therefore the Zealots For Zelous group are some that have high hopes for Wheeler’s future career projections. Let’s take a look at what exactly makes someone a Zealot.
Before we get there though, let’s lay the groundwork. Wheeler is listed at 5’10” and 220 pounds. For the sake of comparison, Rickie Weeks was most recently listed at 5’10” and 215 pounds. Wheeler was born on January 16, 1987 in Alabama. He bats and throws right-handed and plays mostly third base.
Wheeler was drafted by the Brewers out of Wallace State Community College in the 19th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. This is the same draft that has given the Brewers organization Jonathan Lucroy, Caleb Gindl, Eric Farris, Dan Merklinger, and Cody Scarpetta.
Listed as a third baseman when the Brewers drafted him, Wheeler has maintained his defensive spot during his rise through the minor leagues. Wheeler manned the hot corner for both Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville during 2011, compiling similar lines at each locale. In Huntsville, where he spent the majority of 2011, Wheeler compiled 62 hits and scored 34 runs while he put together a .272/.377/.465 line filled out with 20 doubles, 8 home runs, 32 RBI, 7 stolen bases (in 7 attempts), 30 walks and 49 strikeouts in 228 at-bats. As for Nashville, in 51 at-bats Wheeler hit safely 14 times and put up .275/.383/.431, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, 6 RBI, 9 walks and 8 strikeouts.
Also encouraging, despite the small sample size with Nashville, is that Wheeler’s walk-rate and strikeout-rate were both better in Triple-A. His ISO, wOBA and wRC+ were worse, but again, small sample size can be argued on both sides.
He then spent some time with the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League where he got 56 more at-bats, posting a .276/.358/.397 line with 16 hits, 15 runs scored, 8 runs batted in, 7 walks and 14 strikeouts in 16 games. All of that hard work and consistency paid off in the form of being added to the 40-man roster last fall. What that means in the short term is that when Wheeler begins the 2012 season assigned to the minor league affiliate, it’ll cost one of his three minor league options to get him there.
Wheeler did play a little first base in the Arizona Fall League, for the record. It’s likely that the majority of Wheeler’s defensive plays in 2012 will still be at third. Wheeler is blocked at his natural third base position, however, by both recent Brewers signee Aramis Ramirez and fellow prospect Taylor Green who finished 2011 on Milwaukee’s 25-man playoff roster. That won’t stop Wheeler from continuing to work on his game at whatever affiliate he does start the new season with.
There is some doubt as to where Wheeler will begin 2012 because although he did start the season with Triple-A Nashville in 2011, he only played with Double-A Huntsville from June 29th through the end of the season. He also missed nearly two months of the year due to an injury suffered in the second game of the season. Wheeler was hurt in a collision at home plate, a collision which resulted in a torn PCL in Wheeler’s right knee.
After being added to the 40-man roster, however, if Taylor Green wins a backup infielder spot with Milwaukee, it’d be a safe bet to put Wheeler in at third base for the Sounds on a roster projection.
Wheeler isn’t merely a consistent bat with no defense. In fact, coming into the 2011 season, Baseball America labeled Wheeler as the Brewers prospect with the best infield arm. He picks the ball well and makes strong, accurate throws. Wheeler isn’t resting on those laurels though. He wants to be a super utility player that can handle any defensive position. He said that he even started catching a little bit recently because he’s simply wants to get in the lineup and contribute.
It’s that kind of attitude and commitment that will win him fans in Milwaukee, both in the stands and in the front office.
Or perhaps I should say that those qualities will be earning him some more zealots.
The latest edition of the Brewer Nation podcast is finally available for download!
This episode covers a lot of ground in the Milwaukee Brewers off-season and features an interview with infield prospect Eric Farris!
Download it by clicking the link: http://www.hikeforplay.com/uploads/2/8/7/2/2872638/bnpodcast_20111220.mp3