Tagged: Rob Wooten

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #47 Rob Wooten

BBtJN LogoHow many days away from Opening Day are we? And who gets a “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” profiling as a result?

Let him tell you himself.

So let’s take a looksee at…

Rob Wooten.

RobWooten

Bobby Woots, as nobody calls him, is a 6’1″ right-handed pitcher from North Carolina. He makes no secret of the fact that he pitched collegiately at the University of and that he bleeds Tarheel blue. He was drafted from UNC by the Brewers in the 13th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. His MLB debut would come five years later, but we touched on that in last year’s profile.

Following his debut campaign, Wooten would break camp back with the Class-AAA affiliate Nashville Sounds, a victim of the numbers game in spring. Wooten was basically the last guy sent to the minors so we knew it would be a matter of time before he returned. When Brandon Kintzler hit the early DL with a strained rotator cuff, Wooten got recalled. Wooten again was a victim in late April as his having pitched 2.0 innings of a 14-inning affair on April 20 resulted in the team needing a fresh bullpen arm just to cover outs. Alfredo Figaro came up and Woot (which people do call him) would be sent down. That trip turned out to be for the minimum 10 day stay as he was right back up on May 1.

Wooten carried an 8.31 ERA back to Nashville thanks mostly to a three-run home run surrendered in his second appearance. It would be Wooten’s only home run allowed in 2014 in 40 appearances. Wooten pitched better than his traditional numbers would indicate (1-4 record, 4.72 ERA), though his ERA+ was below average at just 81. Wooten’s strikeout numbers were better in his second MLB season and he improved on his walk rate. His WHIP was up somewhat significantly, and a mark of nearly 1.5 is really hard for a reliever to consistently avoid negative results. Still, Wooten’s FIP was 2.61 so there’s reason for optimism.

Another reason for that bright side look is that Wooten earned manager Ron Roenicke’s trust to handle higher-leverage situations when sometimes there weren’t other options available. Granted he lost some of those chances when first Jeremy Jeffress and later Jonathan Broxton joined the ‘pen, but knowing that he could be inserted into a late and close situation was a benefit for Wooten’s confidence.

In fact, Wooten had his ERA down to 2.65 by the end of May, a month in which he allowed just one run across 13 games. He was also at 2.91 on June 14th before a doomed outing the next day against Cincinnati would demolish his ERA. Recording zero outs, Wooten would allow six straight hits and ultimately five earned runs. He ERA jumped to 4.98. Wooten would allow just six more earned runs the rest of the season (in 16 games). He would rack up some frequent flyer miles between July 21 (when he was optioned to Nashville) and September 10. He would be up and down three times in total during that stretch.

Wooten got to finish off his 2014 with a cool trip as he was a part of the contingent of players sent over to Japan for a series pitting MLB players against the Japanese national team. Wooten raves about the experience and will no doubt share some stories on Twitter if you ask nicely.

For 2015, Wooten’s early role will almost assuredly be determined by a combination of the numbers game and how well everybody is pitching. If the Brewers break camp with the stable of relievers they currently have, meaning they don’t add a closer type between now and then, Wooten has a better chance of breaking camp on the 25-man. However, newcomer Corey Knebel and returning injured pitchers Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg could squeeze him into his first trip to the new Brewers Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs.

Rest assured, Wooten fans, he’ll spend some time in a Milwaukee uniform at some point in 2015. How much depends on factors that he can control (how well he pitches) but also on some he does not. Such is the life of a middle reliever.

Follow Rob on Twitter: @RobWooten35

Catch up on the countdown!

Brewers On Deck 2015 – Attendees List, Pricing, Additional Details

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BREWERS ON DECK TO INCLUDE OVER 50 PLAYERS, COACHES, BROADCASTERS & ALUMNI
Event to Feature Community Book Drive; Food Donations Accepted through Hunger Task Force

OFFICIAL RELEASE

Nearly 50 Milwaukee Brewers players plus a host of alumni, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters are scheduled to participate in Brewers On Deck, which is set to take place on Sunday, January 25 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Center.

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.  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.

This year the event will feature a community book drive that will help support Next Door’s Books for Kids program. The goal of the Books for Kids campaign is to help all children in Milwaukee’s central city, regardless of their family income or education levels, have books they can call their own. Local author Marla McKenna will help host the event. Fans are encouraged to bring new or gently used children’s books to donate. In appreciation for their contribution, fans who donate a book will receive a free copy of McKenna’s newest publication, “Mom’s Big Catch,” a story based upon events that took place at Miller Park.

Once again food donations will be accepted through Hunger Task.  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.

Players, coaches and alumni scheduled to attend include (all subject to change):

PLAYERS

  • Michael Blazek
  • Ryan Braun
  • Juan Centeno
  • Matt Clark
  • Clint Coulter
  • Khris Davis
  • Mike Fiers
  • Yovani Gallardo
  • Scooter Gennett
  • David Goforth
  • Carlos Gomez
  • Hector Gomez
  • Brooks Hall
  • Jim Henderson
  • Jeremy Jeffress
  • Taylor Jungmann
  • Brandon Kintzler
  • Corey Knebel (just added)
  • Adam Lind
  • Jonathan Lucroy
  • Kyle Lohse
  • Hunter Morris
  • Jimmy Nelson
  • Gerardo Parra
  • Wily Peralta
  • Shane Peterson
  • Jason Rogers
  • Luis Sardiñas (just added)
  • Logan Schafer
  • Will Smith
  • Michael Strong
  • Tyler Thornburg
  • Rob Wooten

COACHES

  • Darnell Coles (Hitting Coach)
  • Joe Crawford (Video/Scouting)
  • Matt Erickson (Timber Rattlers Mgr.)
  • Mike Guerrero (1st Base Coach)
  • Marcus Hanel (Bullpen Catcher)
  • Rick Kranitz (Pitching Coach)
  • Jerry Narron (Bench Coach)
  • Ron Roenicke (Manager)
  • Ed Sedar (3rd Base Coach)
  • John Shelby (Outfield Coach)
  • Lee Tunnell (Bullpen Coach)

ALUMNI

  • Jerry Augustine
  • Cecil Cooper
  • Craig Counsell
  • Rob Deer
  • Jim Gantner
  • Larry Hisle

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 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.

Details regarding autographs include the following:  Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced next week) 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 District.  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 $10 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 next week.  The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia.  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.

A detailed schedule of all Brewers On Deck events will be released next week.

***UPDATE! Here is the schedule…***

Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy and Bob Uecker will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan in attendance will receive one Premier Entry card which may be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside the Main Exhibit Hall of the Wisconsin Center.  The Premier Entry card will be exchanged for a numbered coupon and 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 $10 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. A schedule is listed below:

PREMIER AUTOGRAPH SCHEDULE

Player                                   Signing Time       Stage

Bob Uecker                           12:30 – 1:15         5

Ryan Braun                          1:00 – 1:45           6

Jonathan Lucroy                 2:30 – 3:15           3

Carlos Gomez                      3:00 – 3:45           1

Players and staff not included in the above autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of those players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10.

The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player (BOLD ITALICS – Premier Autograph).

Autograph Schedule – MAIN STAGES

Stage 1                                                                                               

10:30 – 11:15      Scooter Gennett ($10)

12:00 – 12:45      Logan Schafer ($10)

1:30 – 2:15           Mike Fiers ($10)

3:00 – 3:45           Carlos Gomez ($10)

 

Stage 2                                                                                                

12:30 – 1:15         Jim Henderson ($10)

2:00 – 2:45           Gerardo Parra ($10)

3:30 – 4:15           Will Smith ($10)

 

Stage 3                                                                                            

11:30 – 12:15      Adam Lind ($10)

2:30 – 3:15           Jonathan Lucroy ($10)

3:45 – 4:30           Wily Peralta ($10)

 

Stage 4                                                                                                 

10:30 – 11:15     Brandon Kintzler ($10)

12:00 – 12:45      Rob Wooten ($10)

1:30 – 2:15           Khris Davis  ($10)

 

Stage 5

11:00 – 11:45 Jimmy Nelson ($10)

12:30 – 1:15   Bob Uecker  ($10)/Mark Attanasio ($0)

3:30 – 4:15   Jeremy Jeffress ($10)

 

Stage 6

11:30 – 12:15      Tyler Thornburg ($10)

1:00 – 1:45           Ryan Braun ($10)

3:45 – 4:30           Kyle Lohse ($10)

Players who are not listed above will sign free autographs on the Bonus Stage all day long.

Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs.

The 620 WTMJ Stage will broadcast live from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will include interviews with Brewers players and coaches.

New this year, fans are invited to stop by the Social Media Stage for fun and games. Fans can also post their photos from the event to Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #BrewersOnDeck for a chance to win prizes such as a trip down Bernie Brewer’s slide, game tickets and more. For contest rules, visit brewers.com/onDeck.

Children are invited to visit the Farm Teams Infield for free batting and hitting clinics scheduled throughout the day.  Brewers alumni and players will be on hand for the instructional sessions.  Kids can run around the field or try a quick game of ping pong with Brewers players.

Klement’s Main Stage Schedule

10:15 a.m. – Welcome – Brewers television broadcaster Craig Coshun will welcome fans to Brewers On Deck. The winners of the seven T-Shirt Friday designs will be introduced to fans.

11:15 a.m. – Meet the Coaches – Third base coach Ed Sedar will host a Q&A session with Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and his coaching staff.

12:30 p.m. – The Brewlywed Game – Brewers players, coaches, prospects and alumni will participate in a game show to see which pair really knows each other the best.  Joe Block will host the show.

2:00 p.m. – Meet the Management and Newest Players – Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio, President of Baseball Operations – General Manager Doug Melvin, Vice President – Assistant General Manager Gord Ash will join the newest Brewers acquisitions – Corey Knebel, Adam Lind and Luis Sardinas – in a question and answer session with Brewers fans. The session will be hosted by Brian Anderson.

3:15 p.m. – Call to the Pen – Brewers players, coaches, prospects and alumni will participate in a game show, similar to Pictionary.  Joe Block will host the show.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

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My annual countdown to Opening Day will return for another season!

There has been some decent 40-man roster turnover since Spring Training. I mark the passage of time from (roughly) the turn of the calendar until Brewers Opening Day by previewing players who wear a certain uniform number on the corresponding day.

We’re 98 days away from Opening Day, so we won’t get underway on this thing quite yet, but once the countdown coincides with a jersey, you’ll see the first column go up.

I call the series “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” and it works a little something like this:

  • Opening Day is April 6, 2015.
  • March 29th is eight days before April 6th.
  • Ryan Braun wears number 8 on his jersey.
  • I’ll write an article reviewing Ryan Braun’s 2014 and looking ahead to his 2015 and post it on March 29, 2015.

Make sense? Here’s another example:

  • Jonathan Broxton wears number 51.
  • 51 days before April 6th is February 14th.
  • I’ll post my Broxton column on February 14th.

I do a column on every player who is on the Brewers 40-man roster along with most Spring Training non-roster invitees. I’ll update this space with a full schedule once the uniform numbers for the newest 40-man additions are announced. I’ll update it again as non-roster invitees are revealed.

Thanks for reading and sticking with me this winter. BBtJN is a very popular series and I thank you for that. Stay tuned!

Roster Shuffle 2: Electric Boogaloo

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In the sequel to the pre-All-Star break roster shuffle, the Milwaukee Brewers today announced that they have made a move in an attempt to bolster the big league bullpen.

The move required both a 25-man roster spot as well as a 40-man roster spot. To facilitate those moves, RHP Rob Wooten was optioned to Triple-A Nashville (25-man) and rehabbing right-hander Jim Henderson was placed on the 60-day disabled list (40-man).

All this was done so that the Brewers could select the contract of RHP Jeremy Jeffress.

Jeffress was made headlines more than once in Milwaukee. He was a part of the package of prospects sent to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Zack Greinke. Earlier this season, he chose to re-sign with the Brewers organization after being designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays and electing free agency after clearing waivers. He also was almost out of baseball completely during his first turn in Milwaukee’s system as he was suspended more than once for marijuana use. By multiple accounts, he’s clear of that recreational drug use though, but is now back on a 40-man roster anyway.

Much more importantly than his off-the-field history is his on-the-field production so far in 2014. In other words, there’s a much better reason that he was added to the 40-man roster this time around.

While pitching for Nashville this season, the former first-round draft pick of the Brewers (16th overall in 2006) has posted the following line:

30 G, 1.51 ERA, 41.2 IP, 0 HR, 45 K, 18 BB, 1.224 WHIP

That’s good for a 9.7 K/9 and a 2.50 K/BB, but it’s also worth noting that he’s been even better recently. Jeffress hasn’t given up a run since June 23rd, a span of nine appearances. He’s only given up two runs in his last 15 games and just three total in his last 24 trips to the mound.

Jeffress has always brought the gas on his fastball, but it will be his ability to command his breaking ball that will translate to big league success. He’s shown the other sought-after ability to miss bats at multiple levels as well, something which would serve him and his new team very well moving forward for the balance of 2014.

As for the others involved, Wooten hasn’t been bad and will likely be back up in September if not sooner. In fact, by effectiveness, Brandon Kintzler may have been a better candidate to go down, but Wooten’s option year is already burned and that likely played a part in the decision.

For Jim Henderson, this must be seen as a referendum on where he’s at physically. Recent reports show him lagging behind the needed 97 MPH on his fastball. I haven’t seen any recent accounts of his slider command nor how his “work-in-progress” change up have fared since he got back on the mound, but without the heat I’m not sure the other pitches matter a lot. The timing doesn’t make much difference on his being moved to the 60-day DL though (he’s already spent more than 60 days on the DL having been placed on it on May 2nd), so maybe everything is progressing fine, but you normally wouldn’t make the move with a guy set to return any time soon.

Time will tell, I suppose.

2014 Opening Day Affiliates Rosters

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.

Nashville Sounds

Class-AAA Affiliate (Twitter: @nashvillesounds)

Manager: Rick Sweet

28 Total Players

Pitchers (13)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (9)

Outfielders (3)

Huntsville Stars

Class-AA Affiliate (Twitter: @HuntsvilleStars)

Manager: Carlos Subero

28 Total Players

Pitchers (14)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (7)

Outfielders (4)

  • Kentrail Davis
  • Mitch Haniger (@M_Hanny19)
  • Brock Kjeldgaard
  • D’Vontrey Richardson

BC Manatees

Class-A Advanced Affiliate (Twitter: @BCManatees)

Manager: Joe Ayrault

26 Total Players

Pitchers (13)

Catchers (2)

Infielders (8)

Outfielders (3)

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Class-A Affiliate (Twitter: @TimberRattlers)

Manager: Matt Erickson

27 Total Players

Pitchers (13)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (5)

*Player/Coach

2014 Milwaukee Brewers 25-Man Roster Projection

Milwaukee Brewers

We’re on the precipice of Opening Day, but there are still some decisions awaiting the front office staff of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Most pressing, if not most important, is how they will construct the 25-man roster to begin the 2014 regular season. In this, they’ve got some options.

Let’s assume a couple of things off the top here. First, a standard 13 hitter, 12 pitcher roster split. Second, that we’re all aware that things will change throughout the season and plenty of the players who don’t make the Opening Day roster will don a Brewers uniform at some point in 2014.

I’ll lay out the different roster groupings and then explain what went into my decisions thereafter. Cool?

With that, to the list!

Starting Pitchers (5)

  • Yovani Gallardo
  • Kyle Lohse
  • Marco Estrada
  • Matt Garza
  • Wily Peralta

I did my best educated guess at the order here too. It was announced that Gallardo has Opening Day honors and that Lohse will follow in Game 2. It was also hinted that Garza could pitch the opener in Boston, but that isn’t for sure yet…at least not publicly. Couple that with how well Estrada has pitched and he’s the superior choice against Atlanta in Game 3 than is Peralta.

The wrinkle here is that the Brewers have the opportunity to start the season with four starters because of the off-days scheduled. They don’t need a fifth starting pitcher until mid-April. If they do that, Peralta would start with Nashville to stay on rotation.

Relief Pitchers (7)

(with one more starting on DL)

  • Jim Henderson
  • Francisco Rodriguez
  • Will Smith*
  • Brandon Kintzler
  • Wei-Chung Wang*
  • Rob Wooten
  • Alfredo Figaro (Alternative: Tyler Thornburg)
  • Tom Gorzelanny* (DL)

Henderson is the incumbent closer. Rodriguez was brought in on a MLB deal and has the longest track record out of any of the options. Smith has been great this spring after being acquired in trade. Kintzler was very good last year and has a spot locked up. Wang makes it in part because of how well he’s thrown but also because of the Rule V circumstances. Wooten pitched well enough in his time last year that he gets one of my “open” jobs. He’s certainly in a fungible position, though, as he’s got minor league options remaining.

For the final active spot, I’m going with Alfredo Figaro. I know that Tyler Thornburg is under consideration for that job, but I think that they’ll realize that he’s more valuable staying stretched out at Nashville in order to cover the inevitable first injury to the starting rotation than he is in pitching at best every other day in Milwaukee as the long man. Figaro filled the long relief role admirably last year as his stuff played up out of the bullpen.

Wooten, Figaro, and Thornburg all have at least one minor league option remaining so there’s no real consideration of roster depth when making any decisions concering the three. And I think we’ll be seeing all of them pitch at Miller Park in 2014 at one point or another.

As for non-roster invitee Zach Duke, I think that the Brewers have liked what they’ve seen but with Wang making good (so far), there really isn’t room for Duke to begin the season. The veteran lefty is on a minor-league deal, so most likely he’ll simply be assigned to Nashville to start.

Catchers (2)

  • Jonathan Lucroy
  • Martin Maldonado

They’re the only two on the 40-man and that’s because they’re the two best in the organization. Nothing more needs to be said here.

Infielders (7)

  • Mark Reynolds
  • Rickie Weeks
  • Jean Segura
  • Aramis Ramirez
  • Juan Francisco** (Alternative: Lyle Overbay)
  • Scooter Gennett**
  • Jeff Bianchi (Alternative: Elian Herrera)

Reynolds was signed to a minor-league deal for roster considerations at the time. He’s got a job. Weeks is the longest-tenured player in the organization right now and isn’t moveable (yet). Segura and Ramirez are obvious inclusions. Gennett comes along if they go with two second basemen, which has been the hottest talk of late.

Despite all the talk to the contrary lately, I still think that if they must choose between them, Francisco’s potential, relative youth, power, and increased patience this spring outweight Overbay’s veteran savvy, locker room presence, and far superior defense. That said, I can absolutely see a scenario in which they trade Francisco for an asset and keep Overbay. Maybe I’m projecting Francisco simply out of hope.

The other hotly contested job has been the utility infielder role. Jeff Bianchi filled the role last year with middling success. The biggest challenger to Bianchi’s incumbency has been the 40-man rostered Elian Herrera, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers over the winter. They’ve both hit, they both have defensive versatility. The differences that matter: Bianchi is a better defender at shortstop. Herrera is a much more natural outfielder (which is big when you’ve only got four rostered). Herrera is a switch hitter. Bianchi is out of options; Herrera has one remaining. It is that last point that I think will be the deciding factor. Herrera will start at Nashville and would absolutley be the first man called upon should an injury befall any infielder on the big league roster.

For the record: Should they decide that they can forego two second basemen to start the year to even the roster out a bit a more, I think Herrera would make the club over a fifth true outfielder.

Outfielders (4)

  • Khris Davis
  • Carlos Gomez
  • Ryan Braun
  • Logan Schafer**

Another easy prediction. Schafer could see some time starting in left field, but as the only man on the projected roster that can backup centerfield, he’ll likely be providing coverage from the bench more often than not.

* - Throws left-handed
** - Bats left-handed
---

So there you have it.

I welcome feedback and want to hear your opinions. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m overlooking an important detail or better player? Look down there…a “Comments” section.

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’14 – #47 Rob Wooten

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If you’re looking for an almost-daily countdown to Brewers’ Opening Day where a new player profile gets posted when said player’s jersey number matches how many days remain until said day, then you’ve come to the right place.

This is “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” and today we’re 47 days away from Opening Day on March 31st. As such, we’ll be focusing our attention on…

Rob Wooten.

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Robert Davis Wooten (nicknamed: “Woot”), made his Major League debut in 2013. He was one of many for Milwaukee to do so last season. Wooten got the call as a belated birthday present, missing his 28th birthday by four days. He would pitch the next day right away after getting called up, covering 2.1 innings in relief against Colorado.

Those seven outs came without allowing a run of his own (he inherited two that first night, one of whom came around to score), and kicked off a streak of 11.0 scoreless innings pitched to begin his MLB career. Along the way, he picked up his first career Win (in appearance three, in relief, against the Chicago Cubs), and really demonstrated the mettle that had him slotted as the closer at Class-AAA Nashville prior to his callup.

Speaking of Nashville, Wooten’s season in Triple-A before his callup was what got him his shot. A 2.94 ERA in 52.0 innings across 40 games got him his shot. A 7.8 K/9, 3.75 K/BB, and 1.000 WHIP in those same 52.0 innings got him his shot. And he certainly made the most of it early on.

Nobody is perfect, of course, and when Wooten came back down to earth it was all at once. Or really all at thrice, but that’s not a thing.

Wooten finished the season with 27 appearances and allowed none of his own runners to score in 22 of them. He finished the season with a 3.90 ERA though because when he gave up runs, he tended to give up a bunch. Wooten allowed single tallies in the first two of his games allowing runs (including his first — and so far only — home run allowed) but then Wooten had outings in which he allowed two, three, and five earned runs respectively. The two- and three-run outings were consecutive (and were preceded by one of his one-run games) but then Wooten responded with seven straight scoreless appearances before the five-run blow which came at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals. All told, Wooten’s ERA maxed out in 2013 at 4.38 before he tucked it back under 4.00 by finishing the year with three clean innings.

A quick footnote: I made mention of it at the time when Wooten was brought up back in July, but with that one home run he gave up on August 27th, Wooten has allowed a total of 16 home runs in six seasons of professional baseball.

The upcoming season will be Wooten’s seventh since he was a 13th round draft pick in 2008 and signed quickly. In that first year he played both with the short-season rookie affiliate Helena Brewers and the West Virgina Power which was the Class-A affiliate in 2008. Wooten played in both Class-A Advanced Brevard County and Class-AA Huntsville in 2009 and was originally on track to make his big league debut much sooner than 2013.

Unfortunately, Wooten would miss the entirety of the 2010 season following elbow surgery. When he came back to begin 2011, Wooten was a slightly different pitcher. Wooten hadn’t posted a K/9 below 11.2 as a pro. Those days were now gone. Some of that is because of the increased talent level of the hitters he faced as he moved up the organizational ladder, sure, but he repeated both High-A and Double-A in 2011. In his first stints he posted 13.2 and 11.2 K/9 rates. In 2011, he put up 7.6 and 8.6 respectively.

When he began the 2012 season back at Double-A one more time, he was back up to a 9.1 K/9 but he progressively slowed down. And I don’t mean to focus on one stat like it’s the end all, but it’s an illustration of the change in his approach and results.

Still, even with the decrease in strikeouts, Wooten has mostly maintained his K/BB rate throughout his career, only once dipping below 3.00.

But enough about strikeouts.

In so far as Wooten had late-inning success in the minors (78 career MiLB Saves), Wooten projects to be more of an early-middle or multiple-inning relief weapon for Ron Roenicke, especially in this somewhat nostalgic 2014 edition of the Brewer bullpen. Jim Henderson is the closer. Francisco Rodriguez, Brandon Kintzler, and Will Smith all have experience setting up. The open jobs are long-man, which Wooten could do but really isn’t suited for, and maybe one middle reliever depending on the health of Tom Gorzelanny and the decision on Rule V guy Wei-Chung Wang.

Here’s the rub though: When Wooten was promoted to the Brewer’s 40-man roster last July, it was for the first time. He contract was purchased and he wasn’t ever optioned down last year. In other words, he can be bounced back and forth for three more seasons at this point. Wooten does not have a lock on a job. He’ll have to compete in Spring Training with a stable of young, hungry, eager bullpen arms. He’s got more of a track record in the organization which helps him, but they also know that he can be recalled from Nashville and do the job on short notice as well.

And despite rarely ever wanting to rely on Spring Training numbers as a true evaluator, for the 6’1″ right-hander it really could come down to how he performs in Cactus League play.

The Brewers are hoping he’s up the challenge.

Follow Rob Wooten on Twitter: @RobWooten35

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