Milwaukee made its first trade of the off-season by sending frequent flier Burke Badenhop to Boston for minor league left-hander Luis Ortega November 22.
Badenhop was acquired from Tampa Bay following the 2012 season for minor leaguer Raul Mondesi, Jr. Mondesi was shelved the entire 2013 season with a leg injury.
The major league pitcher accumulated 62.1 innings pitched striking out 42 and walked 12 for the Brewers in 2013.
Ortega, 20, could begin the 2014 season with the Arizona League Brewers after spending his 2013 season with the Gulf Coast Red Sox compiling a 3-3 record with 2.45 ERA in 36.2 innings.
The left-hander pitched out of the bullpen in 2013 after beginning his career with the Dominican Summer League Red Sox in 2012 where he started 13 games.
In his initial season, he accumulated 59.1 innings pitched with a 6-3 record for the Summer League team.
Observers note Ortega should not be considered a top prospect and is a long shot to reach the Major Leagues.
However, he should be a solid pitcher in the lower levels of the Brewers’ minor league system for the immediate future.
In addition, the jury is still out on Ortega given his one full year of experience pitching in the United States. The young pitcher was signed as an International free agent by Boston in 2011.
So long Sanchez
Jesus Sanchez is one of the first minor league free agents of the Brewers to sign elsewhere after agreeing with the Miami Marlins.
Sanchez, 26, was ranked as high as 21st within the Brewers organization by Baseball America entering the 2013 season.
It will be Sanchez’s fourth professional organization after starting his career as a catcher with the New York Yankees in 2005.
The relief pitcher compiled a career high 11 saves with Double A Huntsville in 2012 and walked just 13 batters in 45.1 innings for the Stars.
Following the promotion of Pacific Coast League All-Star Robert Wooten to Milwaukee in 2013, Sanchez stepped in as the Nashville closer notching seven saves for the Sounds.
Sanchez established himself as a pitcher with excellent strikeout-walk ratios through his time in the minor leagues with a career 384 strikeouts compared to 163 walks in 507 innings.
As Major League Baseball’s hot stove is heating up including the blockbuster trade involving former Brewer farmhand Prince Fielder to Texas, many players are still suiting up in off season leagues.
Infielders Juan Francisco and Sean Halton are demonstrating staying power in the Dominican Winter League as the Brewers still have lingering questions regarding its first base position.
Francisco, 26, was acquired in a midseason trade with Atlanta to help fill the void at first base following a lost season by free agent Corey Hart and has heated up for Tigres de Licey.
The third baseman by trade is batting .284 with two home runs and 21 RBI in 28 games for the Dominican League team. Francisco has also collected nine doubles and scored ten runs.
However, the right-hander has cooled down in the last ten games posting a .154 batting average with no extra base hits.
Francisco will need to establish long-term consistency in the Majors to be considered a fixture for the team and is eligible for salary arbitration.
Strikeouts were a significant concern for fans and team officials through the duration of Francisco’s season – and his 32 strikeouts in 109 at bats for the off season league is not helping his case.
Halton, Francisco’s teammate with the Tigres is showing remarkable consistency with a .327 batting average and a .410 On Base Percentage.
In 15 games for the Dominican League team, Halton has accumulated eight doubles and 11 RBI.
In other developments, Eugenio Velez is continuing his scorching stretch dating back to July 26 when the Brewers claimed him off waivers from the Toronto organization.
The speedy utility player produced a phenomenal 22-game hitting streak to cap off the season with Triple A Nashville and continues to produce with Toros del Este of the Dominican League.
Velez, 31, is batting .302 with nine runs scored and eight stolen bases for the Toros. He also has a .371 On Base Percentage.
Milwaukee’s 14th ranked prospect Ariel Pena made two appearances with the Tigres and allowed three earned runs in
1.2 innings pitched.
Pena allowed a two-run blast in his last appearance November 9 and was unable to make it out of the inning accruing 0.2 innings pitched.
Article comes from Brewers.com Beat Writer Adam McCalvy
Visit his blog at this link: http://brewersbeat.mlblogs.com/
MILWAUKEE — The Brewers added their last two Minor League Players of the Year to the 40-man roster on Wednesday, a move to protect Hunter Morris and Jason Rogers from next month’s Rule 5 Draft.
Besides Morris, a first baseman, and Rogers, a first baseman who has worked this fall in left field and at third base, the Brewers also added right-handers Brooks Hall and Kevin Shackelford to the roster on Wednesday afternoon, before the deadline to protect players eligible to be plucked away by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five years or they become eligible, and players who signed at 19 or older must be protected after four years.
The Brewers began Wednesday with four vacancies on the 40-man roster and filled all of them.
Among those left unprotected at the end of the day were outfielder Kentrail Davis, who ranked among MLB.com’s top 20 Brewers prospects at the start of this year; super-utility man Josh Prince, who was added to the 40-man roster at this time last year and made his Major League debut in April, but was removed from the roster last month; and right-hander Tyler Cravy, who teamed with Rogers in this year’s Arizona Fall League.
Any of those players could be had by another team at the Rule 5 Draft, to be held on Dec. 12 on the final day of the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla. Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player, and if that player doesn’t stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
Morris, 25, headlined the list of Wednesday’s roster additions. He won Southern League MVP honors at Double-A Huntsville in 2012 by batting .303 with 40 doubles, 28 home runs and 113 RBIs, and was auditioned during 2013 Spring Training after the Brewers lost starting first basemen Corey Hart andMat Gamel to knee injuries. But Morris was 3-for-26 in the Cactus League before an assignment to Triple-A Nashville, where he hit .247 with 26 doubles, 24 homers and 73 RBIs. The Brewers were baseball’s least productive team at first base, but they continued a patient approach with Morris, opting not to promote him to the Majors even in September, knowing he would be added to the 40-man roster after the season.
He is rated Milwaukee’s No. 7 prospect by MLB.com.
Officially, Morris is one of the Brewers’ 2014 options for first base, a position that is at the moment unfilled.
“It’s going to depend what the need is at the time,” said assistant general manager Gord Ash, who referred to Morris’ Triple-A season as a learning experience.
“I think he understood there are adjustments to be made,” Ash said. “I think he made good progress defensively. Obviously, he still hit with decent power, but he didn’t have some of the peripherals that surrounded that like he did the year before. So it was a good learning experience for him, and I was hopeful that winter ball would allow him to take that next step.”
But Morris suffered a twisted right knee after three games in the Venezuelan Winter League and was unable to play after Nov. 8. When the issue did not improve, the Brewers brought Morris home to the U.S. for an examination on Tuesday by head team physician William Raasch, who detected no structural damage.
Morris is expected to recover with two to three weeks of rest, Ash said.
Rogers, 25, played first base at Double-A Huntsville, left field in the Arizona Fall League, and is working at the Brewers’ academy in the Dominican Republic at third base. He followed 2012 winner Morris as Milwaukee’s 2013 Minor League Player of the Year by batting .270 with 22 home runs and 87 RBIs at Huntsville.
Hall, 23 and a fourth-round Draft pick in 2009, boosted his stock with a 2.78 ERA in 10 starts and one relief appearance in the first half at Brevard County. He earned a promotion to Huntsville and went 2-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 17 games (13 starts).
Shackelford, a hard-throwing 24-year-old who used to play catcher, pitched to a 3.08 ERA and eight saves between Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville, including a 0.92 ERA, six of his saves and a 1.023 WHIP at the higher level. In the AFL, he had a 3.09 ERA in 11 games, never allowing more than one earned run in any of them.
“Going back to college, he didn’t pitch any until his last year, so he’s still pretty fresh in relation to the amount of innings everyone else has thrown,” said fellow pitching prospect David Goforth, who picked up Shackelford’s signature sinker. “It’s pretty impressive that he has that kind of stuff and that kind of command, pretty much right out of the chute. I’ve played with him the last three seasons, and he’s developed a lot. He’s learned a lot more about how to pitch. He absolutely dominated Double-A during the second half of the season. I’m excited for him and excited to see what his future is going to hold.”
Shackelford’s future is a bit more certain. Other Brewers farmhands will have an eye on next month’s Rule 5 Draft.
“This was really the first [experience of] the business side,” Cravy said earlier this week. “The first couple of years went by so fast. You’re just playing, so it doesn’t feel like a business, but other things are setting in now. I’m starting to see the other side of it.”
By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com
The Milwaukee Brewers, like most of their affiliates, couldn’t muster a winning record this season. But in a month in which the Crew did play winning ball, it had September callups to thank for their success. In the final month of the season, Milwaukee’s top prospect, Jimmy Nelson, sported a cool 0.90 ERA in four appearances, while Tyler Thornburg racked up two Brewers victories with 22 strikeouts in his four September starts.
While Nelson and Thornburg made the leap to the Majors, it was the youngest Brewers who made it to the postseason. Rookie-level Helena, the only team in the organization with a winning record, earned a trip to the first round of the Pioneer League playoffs before losing in two games to Great Falls in the White Sox system. 2013 Draft pick Michael Ratteree hit .560 in the series with a home run and six RBIs — the most of any player in the two rounds.
Most of the Brewers’ best 2013 system performers came from lower-level leagues, setting the table for several big Major League debuts in the next couple years. We talked to Milwaukee’s director of player development Reid Nichols to get his insight on these top players.
Brewers Organization All-Stars
Catcher – Clint Coulter, Wisconsin (33 games), AZL Brewers (17 games), Helena (20 games): The Brewers’ No. 11 prospect actually moved from Class A down to Rookie ball in his sophomore season, doubling his percentage of base stealers thrown out.
“He’s young and has got a lot of work to do defensively, but he’s got big upside,” said Nichols.
The 20-year-old catcher was a fan favorite during his time with Wisconsin, as he was voted to have his own bobblehead night with the Timber Rattlers. The Washington native had his best average of the season while in the Arizona League, hitting .350 and knocking in 15 runs.
First base – Jason Rogers, Huntsville (133 games): The 2013 Milwaukee Minor League Player of the Year led the Double-A Southern League with 87 RBIs and tied Joc Pederson (Dodgers) for second with 22 homers. The 25-year-old was also named the Brewers’ Minor League Player of the Month in July and August.
The Georgia native primarily plays first base but has also played some outfield and third base and will be working more on the hot corner in the Dominican Republic this winter to add value to his resume.
“Jason’s a very good hitter,” Nichols said. “He’s got a good eye at the plate, he battles at every at-bat (and) he’s a good first baseman.”
Second base – Gregory Hopkins, Brevard County (129 games): The New York native and St. John’s product’s biggest draw is his defense, but his bat is quickly matching the quality of his glove. The 2010 24th-round Draft pick started off his third year with his first career grand slam in the sixth game of the season.
“He is a very good defensive player up the middle, on the corners,” Reid said. “He’s got a great glove, good sense in the field and gives you good at-bats.”
Rogers, who turns 25 on Nov. 22, ranked second for the Class A Advanced Manatees this season with 118 hits, 63 RBIs, 55 runs and 25 doubles, just behind first baseman Nick Ramirez.
Third base – Taylor Brennan, Helena (58 games): In his sophomore season, the 21-year-old improved in every offensive category and developed his glove work at the hot corner. Brennan, who only had one homer in 2012, tied Jacob Morris (White Sox) for second-most home runs in the Pioneer League with 12, two behind Jacob Scavuzzo (Dodgers).
The Washington native boosted his fielding percentage to .897 in 2013, but after topping Helena with 18 errors, defense continues to be a focus.
“He worked hard at it and I’d like to see him keep working at it,” Nichols said. “He can get better, but he has improved quite a bit.”
Shortstop – Orlando Arcia, Wisconsin (120 games): The 19-year-old out of Venezuela missed the entire 2012 season after he fractured his ankle in extended spring training, but he returned to Brewers camp in 2013 with improved speed and defense. Arcia ranked second on the Timber Rattlers with 20 stolen bases, just six shy of outfielder Michael Reed’s team lead.
“He knows where the ball is. He’s similar to back when we had J.J. Hardy, being in the right position at the right time,” Nichols said. “Smart player, sees the play happening in front of him.”
The Brewers may hope he one day resembles the Brewers’ senior-circuit shortstop Jean Segura, but Arcia still has a lot of experience to gain, particularly after leading his squad with 23 errors last season.
Mitch Haniger, Wisconsin (41 games), Brevard County (88 games): Milwaukee’s No. 12 prospect made a big impact on the Timber Rattlers’ offense in less than two months with the team. At the end of the season, Haniger’s production made him Wisconsin’s leader in average (.297), slugging (.510) and OPS (.909). The California native also fared well in the Florida State League. He placed in the top three in runs (52), doubles (24), walks (32) and slugging (.396) for the Manatees.
“He’s got a good eye and will generate power,” Nichols said, adding that Haniger battles at the plate.
The 22-year-old also enjoyed time in the Arizona Fall League, knocking in 24 runs with a .280 average and 11 walks for AFL champion Surprise.
Victor Roache, Wisconsin (119 games): After a broken wrist sidelined him in 2012, the Brewers’ No. 8 prospect hit a two-run homer in his first professional at-bat. The power kept coming as Roache ended up tying Khris Davis’ 2010 Timber Rattlers franchise record for home runs with 22. The Michigan native finished third in the Midwest League in long balls and also led Wisconsin in home runs and RBIs (74).
“It’s taken him some time to get his feet back on the ground, but he’s starting to show signs of being where he was before he got hurt,” Nichols said.
Michael Reed, Wisconsin (118 games): In his third season, the 21-year-old broke out as an everyday starter for the Timber Rattlers, leading his teammates with 13 triples, 71 walks and 26 stolen bases. In the Midwest League, only Andrew Toles (Rays) had more triples with 16.
“Reed’s an all-around player,” Nichols said. “Good arm, good speed — just need to give him some time.”
The Texas native spent most of his outfield time in the corners. Nichols said he can play center but is best suited for right field. Reed had the fewest errors of everyday Wisconsin starters with three all season.
Utility – Hunter Morris, Nashville (134 games): After a slew of accolades in 2012, the 25-year-old was promoted to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. His stats dipped a little, but his 25 homers put him second in the league, just one shy of the leader, Brock Peterson (Cardinals).
“Morris for us last year put up huge numbers for Double-A,” Nichols said. “Making adjustments to Triple-A, he’s had some struggles early, but I think he’ll come out of it and he’ll be an annual producer.”
The first baseman also led his Sounds teammates with 123 hits, 73 RBIs and 227 total bases. This is the Alabama native’s third time being named an Organization All-Star.
Right-handed starting pitcher – Johnny Hellweg, Wisconsin (one game), Nashville (23 games), Milwaukee (eight games): The Brewers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year had a breakout season, which included his big league debut. His 12 wins and 3.15 ERA earned him Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year award, and he was named a postseason All-Star.
“Johnny Hellweg is all kinds of stuff. He’s got a great fastball, he’s got a good breaking ball,” Reid said. “It almost looks like he’s handing the ball to the catcher from the mound, it’s intimidating.”
The 6-foot-9 Michigan native went 6-0 in June and July in the Minors, allowing just one earned run in 38 innings. During that time, Hellweg made his Major League debut but returned after four poor outings that resulted in an 8.00 ERA and a 0-1 record. His biggest issue is his control — he had 109 walks in 161 2/3 innings across all levels in 2013.
The Brewers’ No. 3 prospect redeemed himself somewhat when September callups came around. In his second stint with Milwaukee, the 25-year-old went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts, pitching at least four innings in each appearance.
Left-handed starting pitcher – Brent Suter, Wisconsin (three games), Brevard County (43 games): After primarily serving as a reliever in 2012, the Harvard product returned to his college role of starter in 2013. He pitched more innings than any of his Manatees teammates and tied David Goforth for second-most wins on the team with seven, two behind Jacob Barnes.
The Cincinnati native was named the Florida State League Pitcher of the Week on July 1 after a start in which he allowed just one run on five hits in his first career complete game.
“Brent Suter is a very smart pitcher,” Nichols said. “He knows how to read hitters and works the plate front to back.”
Relief pitcher – Tommy Toledo, Brevard County (43 games): The Tampa native began his time in the Brewers organization as a starter, but two years later he made the transition to a solid reliever. Not only did Toledo’s 20 saves lead the Manatees, but they tied Nashville’s Rob Wooten for the most in the organization.
“His velocity has increased out of the ‘pen, and he pitched very well for us in the relieving role this year,” Nichols said.
The University of Florida product ended the 2013 season with a 10 1/3-inning scoreless streak, allowing just six hits and two walks with five strikeouts in that span.
By Jason Arndt
Brewers Farm Report
Nashville could have earned an extension of its Player Development Contract with Milwaukee pending an approval of a new stadium by three governing bodies in Nashville November 11.
The Triple A affiliate struggled for nearly a decade in securing a new stadium to replace an aging Herschel Greer Stadium and drew some dissatisfaction from Brewers’ officials when both sides were negotiating a new PDC after the 2012 season.
After Milwaukee spent time exploring other Triple A options when its contract with Nashville expired, both sides were forced to extend due to no other available partnerships.
There were discussions of a new stadium when Milwaukee agreed with Nashville in 2005 after having the Indianapolis Indians as its Triple A affiliate from 2000-2004.
Brewers Assistant General Manager Gord Ash told MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy there was significant progress in stadium discussions since both sides partnered up in 2005.
“From what I understand, there seems to me much better cooperation between the various levels of government this time than there was the last, and the new Sounds ownership group led by Frank Ward has done a tremendous job in
ensuring that they took it step by step,” Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash said. “There is a much different tone to this discussion than there was seven or eight years ago.”
Indianapolis agreed to sever ties with Milwaukee after 2004 due to the franchise’s inability to provide the Indians with top prospects.
Consequently, Indianapolis established a PDC with Pittsburgh while Milwaukee was assigned to Nashville as part of a working agreement due to no viable options at the time of its split with the Indians.
Nashville’s new stadium will be at the sight of the old Sulphur Dell stadium which was demolished in 1969.
The location was suggested by Nashville’s government officials due to the municipality’s ownership of the land and cost effectiveness to the Sounds’ economic future.
Mayor Karl Dean announced the Sulphur Dell location will be be home to the Sounds new stadium in an August council meeting and estimated the cost of construction will be $80 million.
Financial comparisons between the prospective stadium and Greer Stadium comes with a wide margin as Greer Stadium is valued at nearly $4 million.
The City of Nashville is looking at the possible new Sounds stadium as the anchor of an urban redevelopment project including residential projects and a parking garage.
“We have a lot of private investors going to do housing, commercial development, mixed use development and it’s going to bring a spark to the area that we need, north of downtown and south of Jefferson Street. That’s exactly what we need,” Metro Planning Commission member Jerry Maynard said.
Nashville’s plan for the new stadium drew some public support at a Metro Planning Commission Public Hearing October 23.
“Imagine if you will, Greer Stadium is as old as the Municipal Auditorium. Would the Predators have that much success at the Municipal Auditorium? I don’t think so,” Sounds season ticket holder Jim Jennings said.
Despite a highly promising look at the future of Nashville baseball, some city officials will be exercising caution as it goes to the final push Monday.
Historically, there were plans in place for a new stadium at different points since 2005 but fell apart at the last minute.
Approval will need to come from the Metro Council, Sports Authority and the state Building Commission.
Brewers officials expressed cautious optimism Friday after Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announced an agreement between the state of Tennessee, the Triple-A Nashville Sounds and a developer to construct a new ballpark for Milwaukee’s top Minor League affiliate.
The plan still requires approval by the Nashville City Council and the Nashville Sports Authority, according to several news reports. If all of the relevant agreements can be finalized before the end of this year, the Sounds could be playing in their new home by 2015.
The Brewers opted not to tender a qualifying offer to rehabbing free agent Corey Hart on Monday but remain open to re-signing the first baseman to a lesser contract later this winter, general manager Doug Melvin said.
Teams had until 4 p.m. CT on Monday to extend one-year, $14.1 million contracts to their free agents in order to secure a compensatory pick in next year’s Draft should that player decline the offer and sign elsewhere.
The Brewers on Monday claimed utility man Elian Herrera off waivers from the Dodgers, pushing to 36 the number of players on the team’s 40-man roster.
Herrera, who will turn 29 before the start of Spring Training, is a switch-hitter who split each of the past two seasons between Triple-A Albuquerque and the big-league Dodgers, hitting .305 with 10 home runs and 83 RBIs in 172 games in the Minors, and .251 with a .336 on-base percentage in the Majors over that span.
By Jason Arndt
Brewers Farm Report
In under one month Milwaukee will be faced with tough decisions regarding the long-term futures of many players eligible for the Rule V draft.
The deadline for adding players to team’s 40-man rosters for the December 12 draft will be November 20 and will include two of Milwaukee’s Minor League Players of the Year, Hunter Morris and Jason Rogers.
Both players signed following their 19th birthday and have been part of the Brewer organization for four seasons and will be exposed to other teams if the Brewers’ leave them off the 40-man roster.
The Rule V draft is designed to prevent Major League organizations from stashing prospects for a long period of time.
Consequently, it forces teams to make quick decisions regarding players sitting within one organization without any significant advancement and allows minor leaguers to latch on to other teams to further their careers.
The November 20 deadline allows teams to re-assess players’ futures upon the completion of the Arizona Fall League where some players are in “sink or swim” mode, and prepares teams for vacancies within each organization entering the General Manager meetings in December.
Morris, Rogers are near locks
Morris, 25, still possessed near identical power numbers and ability to produce extra base hits in 2013 compared to his Most Valuable Player campaign with Double A Huntsville in 2012.
After enduring tough times at the plate batting .247 with a .310 On Base Percentage, he managed to belt 24 home runs to place him second among Pacific Coast League leaders, just four shy of his 2012 mark.
In conjunction, he collected 26 doubles and legged out three triples for the 2013 Sounds and was 14 away from his 2012 Huntsville season.
While Morris’ overall percentage marks were below his personal expectations, he ended the season on a high note and will warrant a look as a first base option with Milwaukee in 2014.
Milwaukee is giving Rogers every opportunity to succeed in the organization after playing the entire season at first base – a position which Morris will be playing with Nashville.
Following Rogers’ highly regarded season with Huntsville where he blasted 22 home runs and drove in a league leading 87 runs batted in, the Brewers awarded him the 2013 Minor League Player of the Year.
Rogers is playing both corner outfield positions with the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League and is in the midst of a hot streak.
In the ensuing hot streak, he is batting 9-for-23 (.391) with a hit in six of his last seven games including hit first home run of the Fall League October 24.
Rogers pounded out five hits in nine at bats along with four runs scored, two home runs and two RBI in the last two games.
It also should be noted the 2013 Huntsville first baseman spent time playing third base in the Fall Instructional League after the prior to the start of the Arizona Fall League in October.
With Rogers’ recent diverse fielding experience, there will be no doubt the team will add him to the 40-man roster.
Cravy for a roster spot
Cravy is producing a near perfect Arizona Fall League performance allowing no earned runs and just four hits through 9.1 innings with the Saguaros.
In his last two appearances, he has struck out three batters in each game spanning four innings.
The 24-year-old pitcher emerged as a pitcher worth a look following the injuries of several pitching prospects with the Brevard County Manatees, including first round draft selection Jed Bradley.
Cravy should be projected as a member of the Double A Huntsville Stars in 2014 and he will earn a serious look by other Major League organizations if left exposed in the Rule V Draft.
Bucci faced a similar situation when he compiled a successful but small-sample sized season with the Manatees and Arizona Brewers in 2012.
The stark contrast between the two is Cravy’s durability and injury history, or lack of a history. Bucci was added to the 40-man roster following Tommy John Surgery and his 2013 was short with just 0.2 innings pitched with the Rookie Arizona League Brewers.
Consequently, Milwaukee outrighted Bucci off the 40-man roster early in October to open up a roster spot.
Could they be making way for Cravy? Quite possibly. They did not send Cravy to the Arizona Fall League to audition for other teams.
The Dominican Winter League started over the weekend so we add them to the roll this week. Sean Halton ('10) is playing for Licey in the DWL and is off to a good start over the first three games.
Also, David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox are moving on to the World Series that starts on Wednesday.