Three days, three deals for Brewers GM David Stearns.
Wednesday, K-Rod to Detroit…Thursday, Jonathan Villar acquired for Cy Sneed…Today, INF Luis Sardinas traded to Seattle for OF Ramon Flores.
Sardiñas, 22, batted .196 with 0 HR and 4 RBI in 36 games during two stints with Milwaukee this season (May 15 – June 8 and Sept. 8 til the end of the year). He was acquired by the Brewers from Texas, along with RHP Corey Knebel and RHP Marcos Diplan, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Yovani Gallardo and cash considerations on last January 19. Twice traded in 11 months.
Flores, 23, made his Major League debut this season, appearing in 12 games during three stints with the Yankees (5/30-6/10, 6/21-6/23 and 7/3-7/8). He was traded to Seattle on July 30, along with RHP Jose Ramirez, in exchange for infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley. Following the trade, Flores was assigned to Triple-A Tacoma, where he batted .423 (22-for-52) with 2 HR and 7 RBI in 14 games before a right leg injury ended his season on August 14. He also batted .286 with 7 HR and 34 RBI in 73 games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) in 2015. Flores may not be ready for spring training as he continues to rehab his broken leg, so a DL stint to begin the season is not out of the question. He was limited to only 68 games in 2014 because of injury.
Flores, a native of Barinas, Venezuela, was originally signed by the Yankees at the age of 16 as a non-drafted free agent on July 4, 2008. He is a career .275 hitter in the minor leagues with 45 HR and 267 RBI in 675 games (2009-15). He also boasts a career .403 slugging percentage and a .363 OBP. He’s not a home run hitter, by any stretch, but peppers line drives to all fields. Flores has experience at all three outfield positions.
Stay tuned…more moves to come as players need to be protected from the upcoming Rule-5 Draft at the Winter Meetings.
On the heels of trading closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Tigers yesterday, the Brewers have acquired infielder Jonathan Villar (added to the 40-man roster) from the Houston Astros in exchange for right-handed pitcher Cy Sneed. The 40-man roster stands at 35. The announcement was made by General Manager David Stearns.
Villar, 24, has had Major League stints with Houston over each of the last three seasons (2013-15), batting .236 with 10 HR, 46 RBI and 42 stolen bases in 198 games. He started 163 games for the Astros (153g at SS, 8g at 3B, 2g in LF). Villar posted his highest career batting average in 2015 as he hit .284 with 2 HR and 11 RBI in 53 games. He started 28 games for the A.L. Wild Card winners (18g at SS, 8g at 3B, 2g in LF).
Villar, a native of La Vega in the Dominican Republic, was originally signed by Philadelphia as a non-drafted free agent on May 20, 2008. He was traded to Houston, along with outfielder Anthony Gose and left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Roy Oswalt and cash on July 29, 2010. He made his Major League debut on July 22, 2013 with the Astros and was the team’s Opening Day starting shortstop in 2014.
Sneed, 23, was selected by Milwaukee in the third round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. He went 6-13 with a 3.30 ERA in 37 games (30 starts) over two seasons in the Brewers organization (2014-15). Sneed was 0-2 with a 5.92 ERA in 11 games (6 starts) at Rookie Helena in 2014 and split the 2015 season at Class-A Wisconsin (15g/13gs) and Class-A Brevard County (11gs), going 6-11 with a 2.58 ERA in 26 games (24 starts).
Josh Hader has made quite the name for himself down in Arizona this fall and, yesterday, was named the Arizona League Pitcher of the Week for his efforts.
MLB.com’s No. 14 Milwaukee prospect struck out seven and yielded only four hits without allowing a run or walk in two relief appearances last week that covered four innings.
The 6’3′ native of Millersville, MD completed the fourth week of AFL play ranked second in the league in opponent batting average (.118), third in ERA (0.90) and fourth in WHIP (0.80).
You can hear more from Hader on a new edition of the official podcast of the Brewers, Brewers On Tap.
Adrian Houser was also a candidate for AFl Pitcher of the Week after his five scoreless innings last Thursday. He starts, again, this afternoon.
Baseball America’s Top-10
Arguably, one of the top baseball publications around, Baseball America, named its Top-10 prospects in the Brewers system headed into 2016.
With the haul acquired in July trades, the impressive draft class from 2015 and the breakout of SS Orlando Arcia, there are some fresh names to this talented crop of players.
Here’s your new top-10:
1. Orlando Arcia, ss
2. Jorge Lopez, rhp
3. Trent Clark, of
4. Brett Phillips, of
5. Gilbert Lara, ss
6. Kodi Medeiros, lhp
7. Tyrone Taylor, of
8. Clint Coulter, of
9. Cody Ponce, rhp
10. Devin Williams, rhp
The Brewers have been near the bottom in the development rankings among baseball’s scribes for a number of years due to a lack of depth. But, with the system overhaul in the last six months (and more to come probably), the Milwaukee minor league program is now among one of baseball’s strongest.
You can read more on the Brewers new approach here, an article written by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Brewers beat writer, Tom Haudricourt.
And the GM Meetings are underway in Florida and David Stearns is well into his off-season plan.
More updates to come,
Pardon the pun, but the stars were shining bright in the desert on Saturday night in Scottsdale.
On a night described as “chilly” (73 degrees at game time), three Brewers prospects took the field for the West Division at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. INF Yadiel Rivera received the starting nod at shortstop after winning the final vote a couple days ago. He was 0x4 reaching on a fielder’s choice, but he made this slick play.
RHP Damien Magnifico came on to pitch the 3rd and was dominant in a 1-2-3 inning. He needed just 8 pitches to get a pair of ground outs and a strike out of the 2nd best prospect in the Indians system, Clint Frazier, on a filthy slider. His fastball was clocked at 97-98 MPH and that slider in the 83-85 range was on point.
Jacob Barnes pitched in the 5th and came out throwing gas. The first batter saw three fastballs at 95, 95 and 96 in a strikeout. After an error, Barnes picked off the runner at 1st and coaxed a soft fly out to end his inning of work. His 4-seam fastball sat between 94-96 and his cutter was 93-94. He threw a couple of sliders and one changeup.
Both Magnifico and Barnes were sharp on the national stage.
We did see some serious action in the 2nd inning as Marlins prospect Austin Dean hit an inside-the-park homer.
A previous Fall League participant now playing for Team USA in the Premier 12 games in Taiwan, OF Brett Phillips had a big swing of the bat Saturday (skip forward to 2:40).
Phillips was red hot in the AFL before joining Team USA hitting .346 (9-for-26) in 7 games for Surprise. The Premier 12 Tournament will conclude on November 21st.
One final Fall League note, OF Michael Reed was shut down recently as a precaution because of right hamstring and knee soreness, ending what was a breakthrough season for the 22-year-old. Reed posted a .781 OPS between Double-A Biloxi and Triple-A Colorado Springs, and went 2-for-6 while appearing in seven September games for the Brewers. In 11 games in the AFL, Reed batted just .211, but he led the Surprise Saguaros with 11 walks and posted a .388 on-base percentage. He last played on Oct. 30.
There’s a league wide off day Sunday, but Surprise will be back in action in Peoria Monday afternoon. Talk to you then.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Friday’s headline – Josh Hader is Special.
Three innings on the hill, no runs, one hit and four strikeouts. For a guy with “command issues” he threw 33 pitches, 26 for strikes.
Hader had been known in his early career with both Baltimore and Houston as a kid with a good fastball, a plus changeup and a developing slider. Friday, he only threw a couple changeups and relied more on his slider; and it was filthy. And he threw it in two different ways. The get-ahead-in-the-count, slower slider and the this-guy-isn’t-going-to-come-within-four-feet-of-this slider. His so-called “3rd best pitch” is a legit big league weapon now.
According to Hader’s manager in Arizona and this past season in Biloxi Carlos Subero, “He’s learning how to throw his slider for strikes in 2-0, 3-1 counts. He’d never do that before. If he was in trouble, he’d throw his fastball or changeup. Now with the confidence in his slider, [Hader] has taken his game to the next level. He can not only put away hitters with it, he can get ahead with it.”
Yadiel Rivera was 0-for-4 in the game, but had a pair of productive outs moving a runner to 3rd with less than two outs and a hit taken away on a diving play by the 3rd baseman.
Elsewhere, Jason Rogers got hot at the plate last week going 9-for-21 in a 5-game hitting streak to boost his Winter League average to .283 with a HR and 10 RBI in 15 games overall.
RHP Junior Guerra picked up his 2nd win of the winter his last time out. He’s 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA in 5 starts in Venezuela. He’s struck out 29 in 29.1 innings while walking 7 and holding opposing batters to a .230 average. Guerra was the first waiver claim in the David Stearns era for the Brewers.
The Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game will be held Saturday at 6pm on the MLB Network. Rivera, Damien Magnifico and Jacob Barnes will represent the Brewers.
Welcome to Phoenix, well, today it was Glendale to see Surprise play the Desert Dogs.
Adrain Houser, who had a rough outing his last time out on Halloween, was really, really good Thursday.
From pitch number one, which was 96 MPH for a strike, Houser’s command was on point. A 6-pitch 1-2-3 first frame. A 7-pitch perfect 2nd. A 10-pitch clean 3rd. Perfect through 3 on 25 pitches. All were fastballs between 94-96 and changeups.
A minor hiccup in the 4th when he mixed in his curveball for the 1st time as the first three batters singled, only one of them was hit sharply. A pop up and a double play got Houser through the frame unscathed in 21 pitches.
46 pitches in tow, Houser pitched to a walk on 11 pitches to finish his outing. Final line: 5 innings, 0 R, 3 H (all singles), 1 BB, 0 K’s, 57 pitches/36 strikes.
Houser’s curveball, while he didn’t use it much, looked sharp and was not hit hard when contact was made. His changeup had good, late life consistently working it down in the zone. The best part about his outing though, he dominated with the fastball. Manager Craig Counsell said many times during the season that when his pitchers were on, “they would get outs with the fastball”. Jimmy Nelson, Taylor Jungmann, both excelled at getting outs with the fastball when they were at their best; Houser did the same Thursday.
After two innings of a non-Brewer on the hill (Dean Kiekhefer of the Cardinals), Jacob Barnes took over in the 8th and allowed just a hit with a strikeout in a scoreless frame. 13 pitches/9 strikes for Barnes in the inning featuring a fastball at 93-95 with natural cut as he throws across his body and a slider that looked sharp at times.
Damien Magnifico was called on to pick up the save and did just that with a perfect 9th including a strikeout. His heater was between 95-97 and showed a changeup and a slider in his 10 pitches.
In all, the three combined for 7 innings of shutout ball in the Saguaros 1-0 win over Glendale. No Brewers position players played in the game.
Some more good news to report, Yadiel Rivera was added to the Rising Stars Game on Saturday thanks to carrying 19.1% of the final fan vote. Rivera, the Brewers’ No. 18 prospect, has an OPS of 1.094 in his first 11 games, and has reached base in nearly half of his plate appearances (.489 on-base percentage). Barnes and Magnifico will play for the West Division Saturday night as well.
OF Michael Reed, who was named to the Rising Stars Game roster initially has been replaced by Reds prospect Phillip Ervin.
More to come from Arizona tomorrow as the Saguaros are home against Peoria. LHP Josh Hader is scheduled to pitch for the Brewers and is scheduled to be carried on TV by the MLB Newtork.
Can the Brewers have more “A”s?!
Orlando Arcia, the top prospect in the Brewers system, was named the Breakout Prospect of the Year by MiLB.com yesterday. Rated the 12th-best prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com, Arcia was named the 2015 Brewers Minor League Player of the Year and was the recipient of the Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove Award® for excellence in defense at shortstop.
“We are extremely proud of Orlando’s success and development with the Biloxi Shuckers this year,” said Brewers General Manager David Stearns. “Orlando had a terrific season and we look forward to his continued progression through the organization.”
Arcia finished his first season at the Double-A level batting .307/.347/.453 with 37 doubles, seven triples, eight homers, 69 RBI and 25 stolen bases in 129 games. The 21-year-old finished his campaign leading the league in doubles and ranked among the leaders in several categories including at-bats (2nd, 512), total bases (2nd, 232), extra-base hits (3rd, 52), RBI (4th), batting average (5th), slugging percentage (5th) and runs (5th, 74). He set new career-highs in almost every hitting category including runs, hits, doubles, triples and home runs. In addition, he was selected to represent the World Team in the 2015 Futures Game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Arcia was named the Southern League Player of the Postseason by MiLB.com after going 12-for-30 with 7 extra-base hits and 10 RBI in eight games.
The Arizona Fall League’s 10th annual Fall Stars Game will be played at 6:08 p.m. (MST) this Saturday, November 7 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, and will be broadcast on MLB Network.
Scouting and farm directors from every Major League organization, in consultation with Arizona Fall League Director Steve Cobb and his baseball personnel staff, selected the players for the annual showcase that pits top prospects from the Fall League’s East Division and West Division clubs.
Each major-league organization is offered the opportunity to be represented by at least one player.
Milwaukee will have 3 representatives in RHP Jacob Barnes, RHP Damien Magnifico and OF Michael Reed. INF Yadiel Rivera is having a tremendous fall (.395, HR, 10 RBI) and is a candidate for the Final Vote to also represent the Brewers in the game.
Barnes has not allowed a run in 5 games covering 6.2 innings on just 3 hits with 10 strike outs.
Magnifico has allowed just one run on 4 hits over 4.1 innings with a save in 5 appearances. He’s struck out 7.
Reed is hitting just .211 (8-for-38), but boasts a .388 OBP thanks to his team leading 11 walks.
I will be in Arizona starting tomorrow to see the Surprise Saguaros in person, so expect more posts and interviews to come over the next week.
Also a new Episode of Brewers On Tap, the official podcast of the Brewers will be available next week with interviews from Arizona.
Finally, as speculated, the Brewers have made three hires to their 2016 coaching staff. Derek Johnson will be the pitching coach, Pat Murphy will serve as the Bench Coach and Lee Tunnell will return as the bullpen coach.
Johnson, 44, replaces Rick Kranitz as pitching coach. He joins the Brewers from the Chicago Cubs, where he served as pitching coordinator from 2013-15. Prior to that role, Johnson enjoyed 11 seasons as the pitching coach at Vanderbilt University from 2002-12. Over his last three seasons at Vanderbilt, he served as associate head coach in addition to pitching coach. Among others, Johnson guided the collegiate careers of 2012 Cy Young Award-winner David Price and current Oakland Athletics ace Sonny Gray.
Murphy, 56, replaces Jerry Narron as bench coach. He spent the previous six seasons in the San Diego Padres organization, joining the Club as a special assistant to the baseball operations department in 2010. He went on to manage at Class-A Eugene (2011-12), Triple-A Tucson (2013) and Triple-A El Paso (2014-15) before being named Padres interim manager last June 16. Along with his professional managing experience, Murphy had successful college stints as the head coach at the University of Notre Dame (1988-94) and Arizona State University (1995-2009). While at Notre Dame, he coached current Brewers manager Craig Counsell.
Tunnell, 55, returns for his fourth full season as bullpen coach. In 2015, the Milwaukee bullpen led the National League in strikeouts (548) and ranked second in winning percentage (23-15, .605), fifth in ERA (3.40) and fifth in opponent batting average (.238).
That’s all from Milwaukee today, talk to you in Arizona tomorrow!
Another couple games for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League and the Brewers bats have continued to stay hot.
First, we go back to Friday afternoon, a 9-6 loss to Glendale, but Yadiel Rivera homered for the first time. However, it never left the ballpark. Rivera showed off his sneaky speedy racing around the bases on a drive down the right field line. He’d finish 2-for-4.
Michael Reed was 0-for-3 with a stolen base and a run scored.
Saturday, Surprise got back in the win column in a big way with and 18-3 shellacking in Glendale.
Nate Orf led the charge going 4-for-5 with two doubles, a walk, four RBI and four runs scored. He’s hitting .500 (9-for-18) with 6 RBI and 8 runs scored in his 4 games played. Spark plug? You bet.
Brett Phillips batted 5th and started in right field going 2-for-5 with a triple, a double and 3 RBI. Phillips is up to .318 (7-for-22) in 6 games for the Saguaros.
We all know that the dugout gets a little restless in the middle of an 18-3 game in front of roughly 14 people. But who knew the collective Surprise group had such rhythm?
A couple notes from Venezuela and the Dominican:
Hernan Perez has been playing a lot of shortstop recently and hit his first homer in the Venezuelan Winter League, a decisive two-run shot in the 4th inning of an eventual 3-2 win. Perez was 2-for-4 on the afternoon. Five of his 11 hits thus far have gone for extra bases.
Jason Rogers was 2-for-4 with a walk, RBI and two runs scored for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Republic.
Thanks for reading!
Four Brewers prospects stepped up for the Surprise Saguaros in their 10 inning, 7-6 victory over Scottsdale Thursday afternoon.
Yadiel Rivera continues to smash Arizona Fall League pitching going 3-for-5 with 4 RBI including the game winner in the 10th. The 23-year-old from Puerto Rico is now hitting an even .500 (9-for-18) with 9 RBI in the fall and sports an OPS of 1.217.
Brett Phillips was 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored in the contest and has lifted his fall league average to .294.
Michael Reed finished 0-for-3 but drew two walks from the #3 spot in the lineup.
RHP Damien Magnifico preserved the 10th inning lead by tossing a perfect frame with two strikeouts to earn his first save.
In other Brewers minor league news, a 19th round pick from this past June draft, 1B Steven Karkenny has voluntarily retired according to the MILB.com pioneer league transaction page.
A product of The Master’s College in Southern California where he was the school’s all-time leader in hits (255), total bases (430) and RBI (187) and No. 2 in home runs (33), Karkenny played in 72 games for Helena in summer hitting .244 with 8 HR, 43 RBI, 18 doubles and 8 steals while scoring 53 runs.
New Pitching Coach for the Crew?
Over the last 24 hours, it has been reported that the Brewers have found a new pitching coach, although no formal announcing from Milwaukee has been made to this point. Derek Johnson is said to be the new man in charge of the Crew’s pitching staff. He comes to Milwaukee after 11 years as the pitching coach at Vanderbilt University, where he tutored the likes of former #1 overall pick David Price, fellow 1st rounder Sonny Gray and four other 1st round picks. And the last two seasons as the Cubs minor league Pitching Coordinator.
David Kaplan of CSN Chicago and ESPN 1000 in Chicago was the first to report of Johnson’s hiring by the Brewers.
Johnson earned the 2004 National Pitching Coach of the Year Award and National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010.
According to former Brewer and current Cubs Pitching Coach Chris Bosio, “He’s got great baseball instincts, a great baseball mind.” Bosio added, “People I’ve talked to who know him say this guy has an unbelievable mind; he’s very creative, he’s innovative.” Also could be read as, JUST WHAT THE BREWERS NEED.
From Jensen Lewis, a former pitcher for Vanderbilt, “He’s a unique teacher and a very good listener,” Lewis said of Johnson. “He doesn’t change you, per se. He gets to know you as a person first. He wants to know how you work and how your mind works. He’ll work with that to understand, ‘OK, if this makes him tick as a person, perhaps we can use that as a stimulus to get him to come around to things as a pitcher.”
Johnson said during spring training this year of his coaching style, “It’s not just how you move your arm or your leg or what you do in the weight room and all that. It’s about the person inside, it’s about trying to maximize as much as you possibly can out of someone, and the only way you do that is get to know them.”
David Price once got lit up in Texas against the Rangers back in 2009. The first person he called was Derek Johnson. “I gave up fireworks at the Ballpark at Arlington before the sun went down,” Price said. “I remember walking back to the team hotel — at that time, we stayed right across the street from the ballpark — and I talked to him the whole way. I had nothing. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. And he just talked to me, made me feel better about myself. And that’s something he can do. He can do it over the phone or through a text message. He knows his guys and he remembers them, he stays in contact with him. He’s great.”
Pending a formal announcement from Milwaukee, I’ll temper the enthusiasm a bit, but Derek Johnson seems like a perfect fit for Craig Counsell’s stable of young arms.
Have a good weekend,
Three Brewers played key roles in the Surprise Saguaros 10-0 throttling of the Scottsdale Scorpions on Wednesday afternoon in the Arizona Fall League.
Lefty Josh Hader threw two scoreless innings without surrendering a hit while walking three and striking out one.
According to a spectator in the crowd…”Josh Hader 91-94 Topped out at 95; repeats [delivery] well, stays on top of pitches despite low 3/4 slot. Loose arm; big rotation.”
Hader has yet to allow a run on only 1 hit over two appearances in the Fall League.
Right handed reliever Jacob Barnes followed Hader with two clean frames allowing just a pair of hits while striking out 3. Barnes’ fastball was sitting between 93-95 and topped out at 96. He’s thrown three scoreless innings in the fall so far with four strikeouts and no walks.
Nate Orf made the start at third base and batted second going 1-for-3 with two runs scored, an RBI and a walk. He’s hitting .385 (5-for-13) with four runs in three games.
Surprise (5-2) will play Scottsdale again today at 12:35pm MST.