Archive for Brewers

All Aboard the Keon Broxton Bandwagon

Sometimes things don’t work out. For example, this morning, I dropped my bagel when I was climbing the stairs. Had things gone according to plan, I would have not dropped my bagel when I was climbing the stairs. Unfortunate for me. Arguably unfortunate for the bagel.

And then, sometimes, things do work out. For example, last Friday, I chatted a little bit about Keon Broxton. Then while I was away for the weekend, Broxton came through with five hits, including three dingers. It can be hard to know what to write about on the other side of a weekend. Broxton is making it easy. Now I have all the excuse I need to urge you to jump on the Keon Broxton bandwagon. Before too long this train could pull away from the station.

Read the rest of this entry »

Prince Fielder’s Baseball Career Is Over

After last season, Prince Fielder was named the American League Comeback Player of the Year. Neck problems and surgery ruined Fielder’s 2014, but he came back to run a 124 wRC+ over 158 games played. Fielder was plenty deserving of the award, and it looked like the 31-year-old had his career back on track. But this season, Fielder developed symptoms similar to the ones he had before. He was diagnosed with about the same problem, requiring a second surgery, and now Fielder’s playing days are done. Though he’s not actually retiring, he’s also not receiving clearance to return, which means functionally the same thing. The difference is important to the Rangers, but it doesn’t matter to the fans.

Situations such as these are always difficult to discuss from the outside. We know Fielder as a baseball player, and we know baseball players by their numbers. Fielder, right now, doesn’t care about his numbers; he cares about his own ability to move. He cares about what reduced flexibility could mean for his quality of life. It’s important to understand that being declared medically disabled means there’s something wrong with an actual person. As of today, Prince Fielder is one of us, and he’s hurting. Three months ago, he turned 32.

So, there’s no way for us to know what Fielder is truly going through. There’s no real way for us to connect beyond the shallowest of terms. I think the best we can do is to wish Fielder well, and to say that in his chosen line of work, he was outstanding for several years, a hitter sufficiently complete to overcome some obvious drawbacks.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Data Point in the Matter of Brandon Woodruff’s Command

Attempts to measure and/or quantify command have proven elusive. It’s a different thing than control, almost certainly, and it likely isn’t fully represented by control-oriented metrics such as walk rate or zone rate or first-pitch strike rate. Command is informed not merely by a pitcher’s capacity to throw strikes but rather by his body’s ability to execute the pitch his mind — and his catcher and maybe his manager — has requested.

Of course, the reader needn’t rely on a loathsome weblogger’s views on the matter. Here’s actual major-league pitcher Ryan Buchter meditating on the same concept in a post published by Eno Sarris just today.

When he’s stuck in a bad count, the lefty digs in. “I just pick out a spot and throw a ball just out of the zone,” he says. “To right-handers, I miss off the plate away. I’m not going to give in. I’m not going to throw the ball down the middle and hope it works out. It’s not like I’m wild. I’m not throwing fastballs to the backstop or in the dirt. I’m just not giving in to hitters. If I’m throwing outside, I’m just throwing outside. Even if it’s a lefty up and a righty on deck, and I fall behind, I don’t give in. That’s my game.”

Buchter cites a certain instance in which he’s throwing balls out of the zone on purpose. Superficially, he’s exhibiting poor control. In reality, he’s demonstrating good command.

Despite entering the season having produced only modest success in the low minors, right-handed Milwaukee prospect Brandon Woodruff was nevertheless well regarded. Of Woodruff, Dan Farnsworth wrote the following in his evaluation of the Brewers system:

One Brewers source put Woodruff’s status best: his numbers don’t do his talent justice. He still has plenty of potential with a quality delivery and stuff, and has had stretches of real dominance in the past year and a half. He will start in either High-A or Double-A, and the Brewers are hoping this is the year he really puts himself on the map, with his ongoing oblique issue from last year hopefully behind him.

The current post exists because Woodruff has recently put himself on the map real hard. After producing one of the top strikeout- and walk-rate differentials (22.2 points) across all High-A, Woodruff has recorded almost exactly the same numbers with Double-A Biloxi. Over the past month, the effect has been exaggerated. In six starts and 38.0 innings since July 8, Woodruff has recorded strikeout and walk rates of 32.4% and 2.9%, respectively. For reference, consider: Woodruff’s strikeout mark would represent the highest among qualified Double-A pitchers by over seven points; his walk, the lowest by half a point.

The strikeouts are almost certainly informed — in part, at least — by Woodruff’s terrific arm speed. Two years ago, erstwhile lead prospect analyst Kiley McDaniel conveyed reports of Woodruff’s fastball sitting in the 94-97 mph range. More recent observations suggest the right-hander is currently visiting the upper bound of that range with regularity. Pat Kelly, coach of Southern League rival and Reds affiliate Pensacola, recently referred to Woodruff’s four-seamer as a “97 mph fastball.” Meanwhile, Woodruff’s pitching coach with the Shuckers, Chris Hook, suggested that the velocity of the pitch has been “anywhere from 95 and 97.” All things being equal, velocity is a benefit.

The combination simultaneously of Woodruff’s physical tools and in-game success — the sort of success (measured by strikeouts and walks) that’s predictive of future success, as well — suggest that he’s probably well-equipped to handle major-league batters in the near future. Not to dominate them, necessarily, but certainly to compete against them. Which, even that might seem like an optimistic assessment of a pitcher who entered the season absent from every top-100 list and ranked as the Brewers’ 31st-best prospect before the season per Baseball America. But pitcher development is swift — marked not by slowly rising and descending trend lines but jagged and improbable improvements and attrition — and reassessments of pitchers have to be appropriately swift, as well.

The purpose of this post is to serve as a sort of reassessment of Brandon Woodruff. But only accidentally. In reality, the purpose of this post was merely to serve as a sort of annotation to the video footage that appears at the top of it. That footage is from the top of the fourth of Woodruff’s most recent start, against the Pensacola club mentioned previously. After Pensacola shortstop Zach Vincej quickly fell into an 0-2 count, Biloxi catcher Jacob Nottingham called for a fastball on the outside corner. Nottingham settled into a kind of split, not unlike the sort Tony Pena used to assume with the Pirates and Red Sox and probably other teams. Woodruff threw a fastball directly over that outside corner for a called strike three.

What can one pitch reveal about whoever’s thrown it? Well, this particular pitch reveals that, no fewer than one times, Brandon Woodruff has exhibited flawless command of his fastball. That’s an improvement over zero times — anyone would have to agree. And there’s what else this pitch has done — namely, to provide any sort of pretense upon which to contemplate Brandon Woodruff.

Projecting Orlando Arcia

Milwaukee shortstop Orlando Arcia has been on the prospect radar for a few years now, but his stock has risen significantly over the past year or so. He’s been posting impressive strikeout and stolen-base numbers since his age-16 season in 2011. Though, prior to 2015, he did so with minimal power. He only managed an .093 ISO in A-ball in 2013 and 2014, which was helped in part by his 10 triples. While still an interesting prospect, it didn’t look like he’d ever hit for much power.

The power finally began to show up in 2015, however. His eight homers matched his total from the previous two years combined, which helped prop his ISO up to .146. That power bump has carried over into 2016, as Arcia had already matched last season’s total in just 100 games at Triple-A. His strikeout and walk numbers have both ticked in the wrong direction the past couple of years, but that was a sacrifice worth making in exchange for bringing his extra-base-hit totals to more respectable levels.

Read the rest of this entry »

Scouting Phil Bickford, Conundrum

For a player who hasn’t even ascended to Double-A yet, newly acquired Brewers RHP Phil Bickford has had a very interesting career. As a rising senior in high school, Bickford was sitting 87-90 mph and generating very little buzz. In the middle of the following spring, however, he was suddenly sitting 91-96 with unusually advanced command and feel for a slider. He suddenly became a first-round prospect, but teams also had very little history with him and had a difficult time getting to know the kid at all.

When draft day came, Bickford’s stock was seen as volatile but the Blue Jays popped him 10th overall. He didn’t sign. The circumstances that led to the collapse of negotiations are foggy. It makes sense that it was something medical, but Bickford has never had surgery or missed time with any kind of shoulder or elbow ailment, no benign soreness of any kind.

Read the rest of this entry »

Trade Deadline 2016 Omnibus Post

As it has been the past few years, the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline brought about a flurry of activity that was hard to keep up with even if it was the only thing you were doing. Since most of us have other things that we have to or would like to occupy our time with, we figured we would save you some hassle and create an omnibus post with all of our trade deadline content so that you have it all in one place. For clarity’s sake, I’m going to limit this to articles about trades that actually took place.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rangers Put Finishing Touches On Title-Contending Roster

It doesn’t really matter how you think the Rangers got here. Whether you think it’s been team skill or team luck, whether you believe more in the third-best record or 14th-best run differential, today is the first day of August, and only the Cubs have a bigger division lead around the rest of baseball. The way things are set up, the Rangers are almost certainly going to the playoffs. They need to hang tight, sure, but they’ve been free to build for a playoff series. They sit in an enviable position.

The front office has been busy. A few days ago, they brought in Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez. Monday, they paid for Carlos Beltran. And most significantly, they’ve now also paid for Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress. This post is about that last move, and obviously, the key is Lucroy, who’s looked like an excellent fit for the Rangers for months. Lucroy will provide something the Rangers didn’t have, and they’ll get to keep him for another year in 2017. Yet don’t sleep on the Jeffress addition. He’s far from being a throw-in, and he’s going to help this team in October.

Read the rest of this entry »

Giants Pay Steep Price for Brewers Reliever Will Smith

While deals for Zach Duke and Mark Melancon might have made it appear as though the price for relief pitching was coming down, the San Francisco Giants, in need of some help at the back end of the bullpen, have just paid a pretty high price to get the left-handed Brewers’ reliever Will Smith.

Here are the full terms.

Giants get:

  • Will Smith (RHP)

Brewers get:

For the Giants, pursuing a reliever made a lot of sense. They have some useful pieces there, surely: Santiago Casilla has been generally reliable at the the end of the bullpen, Derek Law has pitched well with more exposure, and Hunter Strickland has been solid at time. As a whole, however, the group hasn’t done a lot to add to the Giants’ chances of reaching the postseason this year.

The Giants’ 19.8% strikeout rate is barely ahead of the Colorado Rockies’ (19.7%). By ERA (3.76) and FIP (3.92), the Giants pen sits in the middle of the National League pack. By WAR, however, the team places ahead only of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the abomination the Cincinnati Reds have put together. By Win Probability Added (WPA) among NL relievers, Casilla (0.63, 37th), Strickland (0.53, 39th) and Law (0.52, 40) — who, again, represent the back-end of San Francisco’s bullpen — are well behind the game’s better pitchers. The rest of the relief corps is hovering around zero or worse. They’ve landed someone who should be able to bolster the bullpen significantly this year, and perhaps into future seasons.

In 2015, mostly in the capacity of setting up Francisco Rodriguez, Will Smith was one of the best relievers in baseball, . He made 76 appearances, strinking out 35% of the batters he faced — and no NL reliever without a save had a higher WAR than Smith’s 1.4 mark. He moved into 2016 with the closer role his to lose, but lose it he did when he lost his balance while removing a shoe and twisting his right knee during spring training, an injury which required surgery. Smith hasn’t been as lights out this season, striking out 24% of batters against a 10% walk rate in 22 innings. Although his ERA and FIP have not stabilized due to a couple home runs, his strikeout rate in July has crossed the 30% threshold, providing some encouragement that Smith is on his way back.

Read the rest of this entry »

There Are No Villains in the Jonathan Lucroy Story

Perhaps it’s fitting that, in a trade season without any big name stars, the biggest story that may emerge before the deadline is a deal that didn’t happen. As August noted over on InstaGraphs, the Indians and Brewers appeared to have struck a deal for Jonathan Lucroy last night, but this morning, Lucroy’s representatives informed the Brewers that he wouldn’t be waiving his no-trade clause in order to facilitate a trade, effectively killing the deal.

Whenever a player refuses to go along with an agreed-to trade, there’s always a backlash. If you’re a Brewers fan, you’re probably frustrated that a guy who has no future with the franchise prevented the team from landing a package of quality prospects, especially after making public comments the last few months about wanting to play for a contender. If you’re an Indians fan, you’re probably frustrated that maybe the best player on the market just refused to join your team, and instead of having a loaded roster headed into October, the team still has a big hole behind the plate. And if you’re August Fagerstrom, you’re frustrated that you had to throw away a nearly-finished article on the Indians decision to push all-in, and lose a nifty cooking analogy in the process.

So there’s a lot of frustration out there, since Lucroy’s decision prevented a lot of people from getting what they wanted. But this is one of those times when it’s definitely worth remembering that ballplayers are people, and when it comes to making decisions about his life, Jonathan Lucroy doesn’t really owe us anything.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jonathan Lucroy Vetoes Trade to Cleveland

Around 11 p.m. EST last night, it looked like the Cleveland Indians had acquired catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Milwaukee Brewers. Then, this morning, news broke that they’d gotten lefty reliever Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees, too. And then… they didn’t have Lucroy anymore. Isn’t trade deadline season fun?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Tom Haudricourt had it first:

Perhaps the most important thing to understand here is that Lucroy had every right to do what he did, just as the Indians had every right to hold firm in their stance. See, Lucroy has a club option for 2017 that would pay him just $5.25 million, which is an absolute bargain. Lucroy knows this, and his agent knows this, and having the leverage to renegotiate your contract is the exact reason why players push for no-trade clauses in the first place.

Lucroy reportedly wanted the Indians to tear up that club option, effectively making him a half-season rental, so that he could hit 2017’s barren free agent market in four months and cash in. The Indians, understandably, were not willing to part with the same quartet of prospects for three months of Lucroy as they were for one year and three months of Lucroy, so they refused to negate the club option. The club option was a big reason why Lucroy was so valuable in the first place. The clubs reportedly will not renegotiate a lesser package, and talks appear to be dead.

Digging in a bit deeper from Lucroy’s standpoint, though, the choice seems a bit puzzling. Because let’s run through his alternatives. It’s possible Milwaukee is now unable to find a suitor for him before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, and he remains a Brewer through the end of the year, at which point the club will immediately exercise his club option and he will not be a free agent. Or, it’s possible Milwaukee deals him to an inquiring club like the Rangers, Mets, or even Red Sox, none of which are on Lucroy’s no-trade list, meaning he’d be unable to restructure his contract, meaning they’d immediately exercise his club option and would still not be a free agent. Essentially, Lucroy’s not going to become a free agent in 2017 no matter where he winds up, and now he’s declined the opportunity to play for the American League favorites, which flies in the face of his prior vocal desire to play for a winner. The only possible scenario where Lucroy gets his wish of 2017 free agency would be a trade to Detroit, under the condition that Detroit would be willing to pull from it’s already barren farm system for a rental, which has seemed doubtful all along and even moreso now, given Lucroy’s demands.

There’s some rumors floating out there that the Indians couldn’t promise Lucroy playing time in 2017 with Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez still in the fold which played a role in Lucroy’s decision, but those seem somewhat dubious, given Lucroy’s status as an unquestioned top-three catcher in the game and the recent struggles of Indians catchers. Perhaps more likely is that Cleveland was unable to promise Lucroy that they wouldn’t simply flip him in the offseason, which seemed like a strong possibility from the get-go, and Lucroy wasn’t interested in being traded again so soon.

Anyway, Dave Cameron will have more on this soon, and I’m sure more details will come out in the ensuing days. For now, we’re left with a reminder that not only can you not predict baseball, but you can’t predict baseball’s trade deadline, either.

My Favorite Under-the-Radar Trade Deadline Target

We are now officially two weeks away from MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline, and one thing is clear: over the next 14 days, you’re going to see a lot of relievers on the move. The teams that are definitely selling don’t have many starting pitchers to move, and the crop of walk-year hitters isn’t so great either, but what these non-contenders do have an excess of are relief pitchers.

Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller from the Yankees. Alex Colome and Xavier Cedeno from the Rays. Tyler Clippard and Daniel Hudson from the Diamondbacks. Ryan Madson and John Axford from the A’s. Jeanmar Gomez from the Phillies and Joe Smith from the Angels will probably be on the move, and that isn’t even counting guys like Mark Melancon or Steve Cishek who could get moved if things go south for their teams over the next couple of weeks. With nearly every contender looking at bolstering their bullpen, there’s enough demand to clear the supply of available relievers, but we’re definitely not looking at a shortage at the position like there are at other spots this year.

But yet, if I was hunting for a relief pitcher over the next two weeks, my first call would be to the Milwaukee Brewers. They’ve been baseball’s most aggressive team in remaking their roster since David Stearns took over last year, and you know that front office is looking for any opportunity they can to add long-term value, knowing their chances at contention over the next few years are slim at best.

Jeremy Jeffress, the team’s closer, is already generating plenty of trade chatter, as you’d expect from a closer with 23 saves, a 2.35 ERA, and a 96 mph fastball, but he’s not the guy I’d be after. Will Smith would have been a really interesting name if he hadn’t blown out his knee in Spring Training, and while he’s recovered enough to get back on the mound, he doesn’t really look like his old self right now; missing velocity and strikeout rates lead me to guess that the Brewers hold onto Smith and hope he rebuilds some value as he gets further away from the injury, then look to move him over the winter or next summer.

No, the guy I’d want is Tyler Thornburg.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Worst Called Strike of the First Half

Yesterday, I wrote about the worst called ball of the first half, and that post always makes this post a necessity. Within that post, I noticed something: The worst called ball of the first half was thrown by an Angels pitcher, to a White Sox hitter. Last year, the worst called ball of the season was thrown by a White Sox pitcher, to an Angels hitter. It all balanced out. Tremendous! The universe is good.

Well, the worst called strike of the first half was thrown by Max Scherzer, to an outfielder on a rebuilding team, with Wilson Ramos catching. The worst called strike of the previous first half was thrown by Max Scherzer, to an outfielder on a rebuilding team, with Wilson Ramos catching. It didn’t balance out. It’s not tremendous. The universe is bad.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jonathan Lucroy Is Back in the Best-Catcher Conversation

The current major-league leader in WAR for a catcher is Jonathan Lucroy. All right! Go home, we’re finished.

Read the rest of this entry »

Some Justifiable Concerns About Carlos Gomez

It wasn’t that long ago that Carlos Gomez was one of the best position players in baseball. From 2013 to 2014, Gomez’s 130 wRC+ and excellent center-field defense put him in some very elite company:

Position-Player WAR, 2013-2014
Rank Player WAR
1 Mike Trout 18.5
2 Andrew McCutchen 15.3
3 Josh Donaldson 14.1
4 Carlos Gomez 13.1
5 Miguel Cabrera 12.6

But since the start of 2015, Gomez’s offensive production has cratered. A look at his 150-game rolling wRC+ paints the picture quite clearly. He starts to put it together in late 2011, turns himself into a star, and then comes crashing back to Earth.

Screenshot 2016-05-12 at 7.09.31 AM

He missed time with injuries last April and September, and of course there was that whole business with the Mets backing out of a trade for him, reportedly due to concerns about his hip. There’s no way to know exactly how the injuries affected his game last year, but he hasn’t done anything to alleviate concerns during the first month of 2016. He’s striking out a ton and isn’t hitting for any power. Gomez has delivered a 41 wRC+ with a 34.2 K% and .074 ISO so far this year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Finding a Trade Partner for Ryan Braun

Over the weekend, Ken Rosenthal reported that the possibility of Ryan Braun being traded “was becoming more realistic”, as Braun is off to a fantastic start to the 2016 season, and he’s starting to put some distance between himself and the BioGenesis scandal that cost him half the 2013 season and a good chunk of his reputation. Since the suspension, Braun hasn’t played up to his previously established levels of performance, and when combined with his contract and the baggage surrounding how he handled his failed test, he was mostly an immovable object.

But with Braun hitting .372/.443/.605 — yeah, that is heavily inflated by a .409 BABIP, but his early season strikeout rate is back in line with Peak Braun levels, and he can still hit the ball a long way — and only four guaranteed years left on his deal after this season, dealing Braun is starting to look like something that could happen. It’s almost a certainty that the Brewers will take on some of his remaining contract in any deal in order to get better talent in return, with the question of how much of the remaining ~$90 million they’ll keep on their books being settled depending on how well he keeps hitting and what other sluggers hit the market this summer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Domingo Santana Is Making the George Springer Adjustment

If George Springer‘s rookie season was like a breath of fresh air, then last year represented a sigh of relief. The breath of fresh air, because Springer was not only great, but great in such a unique way. The sigh of relief because Springer’s uncommon profile made him an outlier in some potentially worrisome areas, and last year, he patched up his most glaring weaknesses. Namely, he made more contact, and while that didn’t boost his production, it didn’t hurt his production either, and it also made him feel like a much more certain thing. George Springer comes with fewer caveats now. His production is easier to explain.

I’ve compared Domingo Santana to Springer before. That comparison comes with the important disclaimer that Santana isn’t nearly as fast as Springer, nor does he appear to be as useful a defender, and so he’s never likely to be as valuable a package as Springer. But at the plate, they sure look similar, and Springer at the plate is one hell of a threat, as is. They’re both massive, freak athletes who swing and miss a ton but have enough power to where pitchers feel compelled to work around the zone, and both have good enough eyes to take their walks. They’re nearly identical in their aggression, swing plane, and penchant for going the other way.

And now, 2016 Santana is furthering the comp by making the same adjustment made by 2015 Springer. When I wrote that comparison piece last month, I included this paragraph near the end:

While being unique is interesting from the writer’s prospective, it also means that essentially nobody else is succeeding in the way Santana is attempting to, and that’s not exactly optimistic. It’s hard to be a big league player making as little contact as Santana does, and it’s hard to see Santana being able to put this all together and keep it up without making some adjustments to increase the contact rate, just like Springer did last year.

And now, for a few relevant statistics, comparing players with at least 50 plate appearances in each of the last two years to themselves:

Largest improvement in contact rate

  1. John Jaso, +14%
  2. Domingo Santana, +11%
  3. Joe Mauer, +10%

Read the rest of this entry »

Scooter Gennett on Hitting (But Not Pitchers’ Pitches)

Late last summer, Scooter Gennett talked about how improving his plate discipline would make him a more productive hitter. He echoed those words when I spoke to him a few weeks ago. The 25-year-old Brewers second baseman feels better selectivity will result in a higher one-base percentage and, hopefully, more extra-base hits.

Yesterday, Gennett went 2 for 3 with a home run — off Madison Bumgarner, no less — and a walk in Milwaukee’s opener. It was only one game, but it was a nice start and a step in the right direction. The left-handed hitter has a .287 batting average in three MLB seasons, but his .318 OBP and 4.0% walk rate are poor, while his .424 SLG is pedestrian. His track record against same-sided pitchers has left a lot to be desired, making Monday’s blast even more notable.


Gennett on his all-fields approach: “Basically, I hit the ball where it’s pitched. On a pitch right down the middle, ideally I hit it straight up the middle. If it’s outside corner, I should hit it from the left fielder to the line. Middle away, left center-field gap. Middle in, right center. Inside corner, right-field line. That’s my approach.

“Normally, if I don’t hit the ball where it’s pitched, it’s because of the speed of the pitch. Your timing isn’t going to be perfect every time. If you’re late, you don’t want your normal swing. You got jammed and your bat will break. If I’m late on a pitch that’s middle in, I’ll try to keep my hands inside the ball and maybe punch it to the left side.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Colin Walsh: Brewers’ Rule-5 Stanford Success Story

Colin Walsh might be the best story of the spring. Yesterday, it was announced that the 26-year-old infielder/outfielder will be on Milwaukee’s opening-day roster. His path to the big leagues has been both uneven and unique.

A Rule 5 pick this winter from the Oakland organization, Walsh began his career with the Cardinals, who selected him in the 13th round of the 2010 draft. He hit well in short-season ball, but began the following year in extended spring training after failing to earn a spot on a full-season club. When he did reach low-A, he failed to impress.

Walsh returned to low-A in 2012, where he initially served as the designated hitter. As he put it, “They didn’t have a position for me; I was just kind of on the team.” Eventually splitting time between second base and left field, the switch-hitter went on to slash .314/.419/.530 in 425 plate appearances.

In 2013, he backslid. He put up so-so numbers in High-A, then hit just .220 after being promoted to Double-A. The following spring, he was released and picked up by Oakland. After putting up solid-but-nothing-special numbers between three levels, Walsh went into last season wondering if it would be his last in professional baseball.

That didn’t turn out to be the case. Playing for Double-A Midland, he hit an eye-opening .302/.447/.470 with 39 doubles and 13 home runs. Displaying elite plate discipline, he drew 124 bases on balls. In December, the Brewers selected the Stanford grad — Walsh has a masters degree in civil engineering — in the Rule 5 draft.

Walsh talked about his circuitous road to The Show, and the specificity of his hitting approach, late last week.


Walsh on being cut by the Cardinals two years ago: “I came to spring training assuming I’d be going back to Double-A and starting every day at second base. That didn’t happen. On the last day, I got called in and was told I was no longer in baseball. They said it was a numbers game — there were too many guys for too few spots — and I was the last guy out.

Read the rest of this entry »

KATOH Projects: Milwaukee Brewers Prospects

Previous editions: Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cincinnati  / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Kansas City / Los Angeles (AL) / Miami / Minnesota.

Last week, lead prospect analyst Dan Farnsworth published his excellently in-depth prospect list for the Milwaukee Brewers. In this companion piece, I look at that same Milwaukee farm system through the lens of my recently refined KATOH projection system. The Brewers have the top farm system in baseball according to KATOH, largely due to their recent rebuilding efforts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Milwaukee Brewers

Other clubs: Astros, Braves, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Indians, OriolesRedsRed Sox, Rockies, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox.

Despite only recently being regarded one of the worst farm systems in the league, the Brewers now have a wealth of talent that can be used to build up the next winner in Milwaukee. They project to have solid pitching and outfield depth for the foreseeable future, while the immediate term will see a sizable influx of quality players hopefully gearing up to fill important roles on the next competitive Brewers team. It may be another year before they can really start expecting to take steps toward the playoffs, but the Brewers have quality depth if not true studs, which can breed a few surprise impact players.

Some of the more bold rankings in this massive system include a few lows and highs. I see Michael Reed as a legitimate starting outfielder whose power is an inevitability, hence he ranks more highly here than anywhere I’ve read. The organization is convinced his power will come around, as well. I also like Josh Hader and Isan Diaz‘s chances of reaching the 50-grade threshold. Rymer Liriano makes a surprise appearance in the 45 FV pod. The only thing I can say about it is maybe he won’t pan out, but there’s enough potential there that I don’t know how you essentially cut a guy like that…

Nathan Orf is a hustler who may not seem like much of a pure athlete, but his hit tool carries his value into this list for me. As for some lows, I recognize the potential value Jacob Nottingham and Gilbert Lara possess, but I just don’t have faith in either’s hit tool panning out in the long run. Lara is super young and Nottingham has his raw power, so neither is a lost cause, but I’m looking at it in terms of most likely outcomes.

Read the rest of this entry »