Player & Pitcher of the Year

On Tuesday the Brewers announced their 2016 Robin Yount Performance Awards to RHP Brandon Woodruff and SS Isan Diaz.

Diaz claimed the Brewers’ Minor League Player of the Year Award after erasing a rough start in Class A Wisconsin. On May 24th, just 3 days before Diaz turned 20, his batting average was sitting at .199 and he had just 3 HRs. Diaz would quickly thereafter go on a hot streak that essentially extended through the rest of the season. He’d end up hitting .264 with 20 HRs (lead the Brewers’ Minor League Affiliates) and drive in 75 runs. His 34 doubles were also impressive as Diaz slugged at a .469 clip. He lead the Midwest League in HRs and extra base hits (59). Diaz played SS in Appleton but can definitely move to 2B in the future.

Brandon Woodruff began 2016 in Class A Advanced Brevard County. He was downright dominant over his first 8 starts going 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA. That earned him a promotion to Biloxi where he struggled to find his footing in the initial few weeks and starts. Woodruff would settle in however and put together the best July in MiLB as he only allowed 1 earned run during the month over 5 starts. From July 3rd – August 8th (a span of 8 starts) he allowed just 2 earned runs. Woodruff lead all of MiLB pitchers with 173 strikeouts. He had a combined ERA of 2.68 between the two levels during his 28 starts.

That’s a Wrap!

The 2016 Brewers MiLB season is officially complete and it was definitely filled with a lot of positives. The biggest accomplishment for a team was the 2nd half run made by the Wisconsin TimberRattlers.

The T-Rats took their second half surge all the way into the Midwest League playoffs before falling in two games to the Cedar Rapids Kernels. There were many talented and very young players on this roster and Matt Erickson did a tremendous job managing this bunch. There was also plenty of roster movement as guys graduated up to Brevard County and the roster was backfilled by less experienced players from Helena. Think about this: RHP Jon Perrin began the year in Wisconsin and  finished the season in AA Biloxi. Guys like Marcos Diplan, Devin Williams and Freddy Peralta were also moved up to Brevard County near the end of the season. Trent Clark and Monte Harrison dealt with injuries that sidelined them for extended periods of time. All the while, the T-Rats kept moving forward and ended up setting a Midwest League record for strikeouts as a pitching staff.

A top candidate for Brewers MiLB Player of the Year is Wisconsin SS Isan Diaz. His 20 HRs lead the organization and he hit for average over the 2nd half of the season too.

AA Biloxi twice just missed the playoff in 2016. Just missing the first half crown in the South Division of the Southern League. Then again just narrowly missing the wildcard berth at the conclusion of the season. The headlining act in Biloxi was Josh Hader at the beginning of the season and Brandon Woodruff over the 2nd half. The LHP Hader and RHP Woodruff  were among the elite arms in MiLB this year. Woodruff lead MiLB in strikeouts with Hader not far behind. Hader earned a promotion to AAA Colorado Springs and figures to contend for a spot with the Brewers in the near future.

Among other names that are knocking on the big league door, OF Lewis Brinson. Brinson is a 5-tool player that had a huge final month of the season in AAA. While he may not be on the opening day roster for the Brewers, you never say never. He will be added to the 40-man roster this fall and figures to be in the conversation this coming spring.

2017 will be a big year for a few other prospects. RHP Jorge Lopez will look to rebound from a disappointing 2016. Lopez is a high-character guy and performed better once he was sent back down to Biloxi. If he can iron out some command issues, the high ceiling is still there. Also, while Brett Phillips smacked 16 home runs, you’d like to see him hit for a little more average. He has a big arm and has a chance to be a very good defender. Also, Jacob Nottingham figures to take a step forward at the plate. He’s an exciting young catcher that definitely figures into the Brewers plans right now.

It also looks like the Brewers found a couple of gems beyond Corey Ray in the 2016 draft class. People are excited about the high ceiling of Chad McLanahan. However, Lucas Erceg and Ronnie Gideon really turned some heads during July & August. Erceg had a huge start at Helena and earned a promotion to Wisconsin while Gideon smashed 17 home runs to lead the Pioneer League. All in all, this is concerned among the top farm systems in baseball, if not the very best. The future looks very good for the Crew.

 

 

PTBNL. Ryan Cordell.

The Brewers and Rangers have completed their trade from August 1st involving Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress. The initial return was OF Lewis Brinson, RHP Luis Ortiz and a player to be named. That player is OF Ryan Cordell.

Cordell is 24 years old and went to Liberty to play his college ball. He’s a speedy guy with big power. He’s been injured for the past month of the season at AA Frisco but still managed to hit 19 home runs and drive in 70 runs. This adds to an already talent-rich outfield across the Brewers’ system. Cordell does come with some versatility, he’s played around the infield a bit also, but does project as an outfielder primarily.

T-Rats in Playoffs & the End of an Era

Exciting times for the Brewers’ Class A affiliate, Wisconsin. The T-Rats clinched a playoff berth in the Midwest League yesterday. The T-Rats will open up a best of 3 series on Wednesday night in Appleton at 6:35 against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The series will then move to Cedar Rapids for the 2nd game and also the 3rd game, if necessary. Those games would be on Thursday and Friday.

Matt Erickson’s bunch has had a big 2nd half of the season, going 37-32 to lock down a spot. Corey Ray has also been transferred to Wisconsin so the 2016 1st round pick can be a part of the playoffs.

This has been a highly regarded team all year, and the emergence of Isan Diaz in the 2nd half of the season was a big reason for them realizing their potential.

There’s no doubt, this will be a great experience for a young core of players in the Brewers system.

It’s also an end of an era as the Manatees played their final game at Space Coast Stadium on Sunday. The Class A Advanced affiliate is moving to Kissimmee starting next year. Here’s a story on the changes: Final Game for Brevard County

Most of the Brewers affiliates will wrap up their regular seasons today as Wisconsin plays this afternoon against Beloit, Biloxi sends Jorge Lopez to the mound against Mississippi, Colorado Springs sends Hiram Burgos to the mound against Iowa. Helena still has 4 games left with Billings including today in the Pioneer League. The seasons for the Arizona League and Dominican Summer League Brewers have completed.

Arizona Fall League Rosters.

Today we learned of the Brewers prospects that will be participating in the Arizona Fall League, which runs from October 11 – November 19. This year, the Brewers prospects will be playing on the Salt River Rafters team which will also feature prospects from the D-Backs, Braves, Rockies and Tigers.

The Brewers are sending three pitchers and three position players. The arms headed to the Valley of the Sun are RHPs Josh Uhen, Tyler Spurlin and Tayler Scott. All three are currently in AA with Biloxi and all three have pitched exclusively out of the bullpen. Uhen and Scott are both 24 years old while Spurlin is 25.

The position players are OF Brett Phillips, C Jacob Nottingham and INF Isan Diaz. Both Phillips and Nottingham have spent the entire year in Biloxi while Diaz has had a tremendous season at Class A Wisconsin.

It’s going to be fun to watch Diaz, just 20 years old, get the opportunity to play against some of the best young players in the world. He’s a very dynamic and complete player and he’s skills will be tested. Phillips has shown good power this year and has a very big arm in the outfield. Nottingham has a chance to be an offensive player that can get it done behind the plate as well.

You can check out the other rosters and information from the Arizona Fall League.

Biloxi’s pitching and Brinson’s Power.

If you haven’t noticed, the rotation in Biloxi has gotten the AA Shuckers back into the post-season conversation. It’s tricky, but entirely possible that the Shuckers could get a berth. Here’s what would need to happen. Pensacola would need to come back from 3.5 games back in the Southern League’s South Division to win the 2nd half. The Blue Wahoos already took the 1st half crown. So the next team in the playoffs would be the 2nd best OVERALL record. That would open the door for the Shuckers, who are just 1.5 games back of the Mississippi Braves for the 2nd best record in their division. Additionally, the Shuckers play the Braves 6 more times (including tonight) before the season ends. So it’s very doable.

What’s led to this sudden climb from the Shuckers? Starting pitching. Luis Ortiz has been great, as has Taylor Jungmann. We all know that Brandon Woodruff is having an award filled season also, but now Jorge Lopez is turning the corner. This rotation is setting the tone for Mike Guerrero’s club. Credit as well to Chris Hook (pitching coach) as he’s proving how valuable he is working with guys like Jungmann and Lopez that struggled until they got to Biloxi this season.

Lopez went 7 scoreless last night before running into trouble in the 8th. He ended the night going 7.1 with just 2 ER allowed. He’s now allowed just 5 ER over his last 19.1 IP. Woodruff had been scratching his head after two rough starts in a row (this after perhaps having the best month of July on the mound as anyone in baseball). However, Woodruff delivered 8 shoutout innings on Wednesday night allowing just 2 hits while striking out 7.

Colorado Springs is happy to have Lewis Brinson back. In 3 games back from the DL, the #18 overall prospect in baseball has gone 6-10, 3 HR and 6 RBIs. He’s hitting .414 since being traded to the Brewers organization.

One other pitching note, Phil Bickford, acquired via the Will Smith trade, delivered a solid start for Brevard County on Wednesday. He went 6 innings and allowed just 2 ER. The depth on the mound right now for the Brewers should have fans very excited about the future.

Take Notice of Taylor Jungmann.

It’s time to pay attention to the rediscovered success of Taylor Jungmann. The right-hander, whom made a great 1st impression last year when he made his MLB debut, struggled to begin this season. He was sent down by the end of April to Colorado Springs to pitch in AAA. Jungmann’s struggles continued. He then went to Arizona, to clear his mind for a short time before pitching competitively again in AA for the Biloxi Shuckers. After a couple of tough starts at the beginning of his stint there, Jungmann has now settled in and has been downright dominant. His latest start, perhaps his best example yet. On Tuesday night, Jungmann went 8 scoreless innings while striking out 8 and allowed just 3 hits. He sports a 1.13 ERA in the month of  August.

Jungmann looks like he’s rediscovered the form that got him off to such a nice start in 2015. Here’s hoping this is the beginning of a really cool success story.

Hader’s (K)areer Day

Yesterday was a big day for LHP prospect Josh Hader. Still looking for his first AAA victory since his promotion to Colorado Springs earlier in the year, Hader struck out 12 batters over 6 scoreless innings. Round Rock features some big names also. Joey Gallo is one of the top left handed hitting prospects in baseball and of course we all are familiar with Carlos Gomez. The point is, Hader was dominating on the road against a lineup that featured MLB  players. So dominant that he only allowed 2 hits.

His last 6 starts have been really impressive. In 34.1 IP, he’s allowed just 11 earned runs for a 2.88 ERA. He has struck out 154 between AA and AAA this year, that’s 2nd in all of Minor League Baseball.

Coulter having success…

OF Clint Coulter extended his hitting streak to 10 games with the Shuckers on Thursday. He was hitting .471/.550/.706 with 10 runs, 2 doubles, 2 homers, 6 RBI and 3 walks in that span. The streak, sadly came to an end on Friday night as he went 0-3 with a walk vs. Mobile.

I traveled to Florida in May to talk with Clint while he was with Brevard County in the Florida State League. He’s one of the most physically impressive guys in the Brewers minor league system. He should project to have good power and he has a big arm (former catcher) that will suit him well, specifically as a right fielder. Now that he’s starting to get on base more and hitting for better average. This could turn into one of the better development success stories for the Brewers in 2016. Coulter struggled in Brevard County, hitting just .220 with 6 HRs. The Brewers felt he needed a change of scenery and a chance to start clean. They promoted him to AA Biloxi. What a decision that’s turned out to be. Coulter has been the Shuckers best player since his promotion. In 13 games, he’s collected 16 hits and is slugging at a .649 clip.

Here’s more on the Shuckers, who’ve also seen Luis Ortiz pitch exceptionally well since coming over in the Lucroy/Jeffress trade: 

New guys, Funny Guys and Young Guys…

It’s been almost two weeks since the Brewers traded Jonathan Lucroy, Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith for key pieces to their future in Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, a PTBNL, Phil Bickford & Andrew Susac. Let’s look at the early results for these young men in the Brewers organization.

Brinson – Lewis Brinson is the #2 prospect in the Brewers organization according to MLB Pipeline and he’s the top prospect that’s not currently on the 25-man roster (Orlando Arcia is #1). He’s batting .439 with 4 doubles, a HR and 10 RBI. Also he’s swiped 4 bases. I talked with David Stearns on Friday and he said that he feels Brinson is fairly close to being MLB-ready. Certainly needs a bit more time at AAA but Brinson is already knocking on the door.

Luis Ortiz is a 20-year old right hander that also came over in the Lucroy/Jeffress trade and he’s begun his Brewers career in AA Biloxi. Management has decided to slowly ramp up Ortiz’s innings as August continues but he’s made two outings so far for the Shuckers. Ortiz has made two starts for the Shuckers and has worked a combined 6.2 innings without allowing an earned run.

It’s also believed that the PTBNL will be a significant piece from the Rangers’ system. So that should be exciting when it develops after the season.

Phil Bickford went 4.2 innings in his first start for A Advanced Brevard County. The right-hander gave up 2 runs and struck out 5 in the outing. He makes his second start for the Manatees tonight at Dunedin.

Expect to see Andrew Susac on the Major League roster before the year is over.

Changing the topic for a second. If you haven’t seen the Tim Dillard (Reliever with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox) MiLB Network videos yet, you’re missing out.

Check out his twitter profile: @DimTillard

Dillard is genuinely one of the funniest guys in baseball. His creativity combined with the clubhouse downtime that baseball provides – equals sheer brilliance.

Finally, I’d be wrong to not include an update on a few young guys that are putting together impressive seasons. 1st is Isan Diaz. He very well may be in line for some postseason honors if he keeps things up at his current pace. He’s currently on a 12-game hitting streak and is batting .344 in the second half of the season for the Wisconsin TimberRattlers. His 18 HRs lead the Brewers minor leagues and his 69 RBI are equally impressive.

Ronnie Gideon is still hitting at a hot pace in Helena. Currently on a 15-game hitting streak, Gideon has 9 doubles, 7 HR and 18 RBI during the span. He has as much natural power as about anyone in the Brewers organization.

Finally, be on the lookout for some arms that get the nod tonight on the Brewers minor league schedule. LHP Brent Suter with Colorado Springs, Brandon Woodruff with Biloxi, Phil Bickford with Brevard County and Corbin Burnes with Wisconsin. All have put together impressive seasons so far.