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
Two days in a row for the first time this season. Expect that a lot this year on my annual “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” countdown to Opening Day because between now and Scooter Gennett on April 3rd there aren’t a whole lot of consecutive days off. In point of fact there are only four unaccounted for numbers (3, 23, 53, 59) if Spring Training were to begin today. (Okay, five, but 17 just isn’t getting assigned. More on that later.)
But that’s information for another day. Today on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 we sit 62 days away from Opening Day at Miller Park. So enough about the unassigned numbers and other players for today belongs to the player who dons #62 for his time in big league Spring Training…
Once considered a top prospect by most (if not all) respected places that rank such things, Garin Cecchini saw a fall from grace in 2015. A career .298 hitter in four minor league seasons, Cecchini got his first taste of Triple-A in 2014 and held his own reasonably well, slashing .263/.341/.371 in 458 plate appearances. MLB Pipeline had Cecchini ranked as the third-best prospect in the minor system of the Boston Red Sox (who drafted Cecchini in the 4th round of the 2010 draft out of high school in Louisiana), and the 55th-best in all of the minor leagues. His game was predicated on bat-to-ball skills, contact rate, patience, and consistency. Cecchini even earned himself a trip to the big leagues which came on June 1, 2014. His MLB debut was fine if statistically insignificant.
Then 2015 happened.
“I had a tough year last year, but it all happens for a reason, ” Cecchini told me at the annual Brewers On Deck fan fest which took place on January 31. “I think it’s exactly the reason I got to Milwaukee. I honestly think the only way I was expendable [to the Red Sox] was if I had the worst year of my life and I had the worst year of my life.”
Boston’s sacrifice could be resurrected in Milwaukee. The Brewers have long struggled to develop top flight prospects at the hot corner. It’s why they signed Aramis Ramirez, who never had to fear for his job while in town, before the 2012 season. Nobody was within shouting distance of Ramirez for the big league spot. And the cast of characters who filled in for Ramirez on days off and then after he was traded to Pittsburgh in July is either young (Hernan Perez, Yadiel Rivera), or some combination of unimpressive and no longer with the organization (Hector Gomez, Elian Herrera, Luis Jimenez, Jason Rogers, Luis Sardiñas). Suffice it to say that despite a handful of competitors, it’s not like the next primary third baseman is going to have to shoehorn his way into the job.
However the first thing that Cecchini must do is distance himself from 2015’s results and become the player he was before he was deemed “expendable.”
“Honestly, I’m not supposed to hit [.213]. I think I’m a better player than that as the past has shown.” Cecchini reiterated that he thinks 2015 happened for a reason and that with the Brewers is where he’s supposed to be. “I wouldn’t be in Milwaukee if I had hit .300, I guarantee you that.”
Cecchini knows he is going to have to compete in Spring Training and he’s ready to separate himself from the pack.
“Just go out and play the game I know how to play. It’s been like that my whole career. You have to compete for something. You never want to be given anything. I’m more confident than ever. I feel back to what I was in ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14. I had a tough year last year…but I learned from it and I’m glad to be here.”
So what didn’t work?
“I learned on why I had the worst year of my life. Last year I tried to do some new stuff just on my own with a leg kick, coming forward and that’s not the type of hitter I am.” Asked what he needs to do to be his old self, Cecchini said, “Being simple; overly simple in the box. Just going up there and hitting, staying behind the ball. That’s what I’ve done my whole life. Last year…is not the type of hitter I am. I didn’t work. Learn from it and move on.”
The bottom line for Cecchini as he looks forward to 2016 can be summarized thusly:
“I’m grateful for this opportunity to go out there and be the Garin Cecchini I’ve been my whole life…until last year.”
All that and he’s still just 24 years old. He’s ready to prove that he can perform at the highest levels of this game. The excitement was evident on his face and in his voice as we chatted for about six minutes on Sunday. And it’s not just about the new team.
One more thing that has Cecchini excited is that he gets to go back to his natural position full time. With a smile on his face he said, “I was told ‘Work strictly at third.'” Cecchini said he’s been working hard on his craft and has been taking ground balls every day thanks to the nice weather at home in Louisiana.
As for being number 62, Cecchini said that if he had his choice of any one to wear “it would have to be 17. I’ve always liked that number. I’ve had family members wear the number.” I informed him that while not official, 17 in Milwaukee is virtually retired as it has yet to be given out since long-time wearer Jim Gantner retired following the 1992 season and 15 years in the number. Understandably, Cecchini replied that “any number would be fine.”
I can’t say that I disagree because getting a number on or after April 4th would mean that he’ll be playing with said number on his back but with a big league logo on his chest.
You can follow Garin on Twitter: @GarinCecchini
Catch up on BBtJN ’16:
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.