If Garrett Cooper‘s inaugural 2013 campaign with the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization is any indication, the former Auburn first baseman could rapidly progress through the system.
Cooper, 23, was selected as the Brewers’ sixth round pick in the 2013 draft and made an immediate impact with two blasts in his professional debut with Pioneer League Helena June 20.
However, his 2-for-5 game with the Helena Brewers did not come as a surprise to the 6’6” Cooper as he maintains his objective as a power hitter.
“I am trying to improve on that this off season and add strength through the off season to hit more home runs,” Cooper said.
Cooper’s tour of the country did not start nor end in the Rocky Mountain region after signing his professional contract out of the University of Auburn where he batted .354 with 12 doubles, seven home runs and 37 walks in 56 games his senior season.
“It was a fun experience, moving around the country. Growing up in California, moving to Auburn, moving to Helena,” Cooper said. “It’s been a whirlwind of geographic locations.”
Despite possessing power potential, the first baseman has demonstrated the ability to hit for average at the early portion of his professional career.
Cooper not only began his career with two home runs but also rattled off a five game hitting streak from June 20-24 where he went 9-for-20 and belted three home runs. He also had a .500 On Base Percentage.
The California native hit safely in ten of his 16 games with Helena before Milwaukee made the decision to promote him to Single A Wisconsin. Through his short time with the Helena Brewers, he tabulated a .357 OBP with four doubles, four home runs and ten RBI.
Cooper said his time with Helena “was a good experience” and prepared him for Midwest League Baseball and life
alongside a loaded Wisconsin outfield of Tyrone Taylor, Michael Reed, Victor Roache and Max Walla.
“It was fun playing with them and it was nice hitting in front of them in the lineup,” Cooper said. “It was also good protecting them in the lineup.”
Cooper underwent roadblocks during his time with Wisconsin after missing time due to injuries but was able to come through with similar success.
In 32 games for the Timber Rattlers, he collected his first three career triples along with six doubles and blasted two home runs. He produced a .287 average and .346 OBP.
Cooper acknowledged his need to become a stronger and more durable presence in the lineup and maintained the off season objective of adding weight.
“Just getting stronger and being more flexible. That was my goal coming into the senior year of college was to get stronger and add more weight,” Cooper said.
Cooper responded by arriving to early winter session February 8 with a weight of 235 compared to 230 in his first season and feels “bigger and stronger.”
The Auburn alum was among 24 Brewers’ farmhands invited to attend the Minor League winter session which includes notable prospects Tyrone Taylor, Tucker Neuhaus and Damien Magnifico.
“It’s like mini camp and its a good thing getting out there sooner than all the other guys that come in and prepare to play every single day,” Cooper said.
Brewers’ officials are also providing Cooper additional options in advancing through the minor league system after taking repetitions at third base during the Fall Instructional League in October 2013.
“In high school it was the only time I ever played third base and little bit in junior college,” Cooper said.
He is looking at it as another opportunity to move forward and remains confident in his abilities at third base when needed.
“At third you have to get used to it and get back to the throwing across the diamond in every play at the hot corner,” Cooper said. “There is not much difference between first and third besides the throw.”
“Whatever they decide I will be happy with every chance I get. Just glad to be a part of the organization,” Cooper added.
Cooper told Brewers Farm Report he was surprised Milwaukee snagged him in the draft after receiving phone calls from two different organizations.
“The Brewers were definitely into my stuff. I talked to the Royals and Phillies a half an hour before I got drafted,” Cooper said. “The Royals and Phillies told me I was there next picks and all of sudden my name got popped up with the Brewers.”
Cooper credits his family for giving him unconditional support on maintaining his mission to become a professional baseball player and for preparing him for life traveling around the country.
“I grew up as the young kid and they are all pushing for me. I am the youngest, I am the baby and they are all just looking out for me,” Cooper said. “They are always there for me and give me whatever support I need.”
The youngest of seven children, he is grateful for his older siblings in taking the time out of their lives to play catch in the backyard of their California home during his childhood.
In addition to growing up along the California coasts where he also played beach volleyball, he has more than just Auburn as a southern connection.
Cooper gained early exposure to the Southern portion of the United States when he noted his mother being a part of the Louisiana community during times of her life.
“She took me down to the south a lot and I loved it down here,” Cooper said. “I have been all around the country to play baseball since I was a young kid.”
With the support of teammate Devin Williams and a developing curveball, left-hander Clint Terry is ready to move ahead in his young professional career.
“That is my pitcher and he is a dominating pitcher. That’s why I like him,” Williams told Brewers Farm Report in January. “He keeps hitters off balance and you never know what he is going to throw.”
The left-handed Terry struck out a stunning 56 batters compared to ten walks in 46.2 innings to start off his professional career with the Rookie League Brewers in Arizona.
“I think its the fastball and throwing strikes, its what people see and not walk people,” Terry said.
In addition to his strikeout-walk ratio, he allowed eight earned runs in 14 games to give him a meager 1.54 ERA for the season.
However, the 21-year-old from Palatine, Ill. acknowledged he has plenty of room for improvement which includes polishing off his curveball.
Terry believes he will accomplish substantially more once his breaking pitch is established and can utilize against left-handed hitters.
“As strange as this sounds, it is against right-handers I think,” Terry explained, in regards to whether he felt he pitched more effectively against left-handers.
“That is why I am working on my curveball right now and to reach the Majors you have to have a curveball. I need to have a curveball to go to and then I will feel comfortable throwing it to left handed hitters,” Terry added.
He has a slider, but is working on making the curveball more of a priority for his professional baseball future.
“It was a slurve and I barely threw it, like two or three times per inning in those 46 innings,” Terry said. “So I didn’t really have much control with it or confidence.”
Terry was on the scout’s radar screen in a year prior to Milwaukee drafting him with the 18th round pick in 2013 when San Francisco snagged him in the 36th round in 2012.
“It had to do with getting stronger and being drafted in the 38th round and financially it was not a good time and waiting another year was a good decision,” Terry said.
Terry has backed up his decision by adding additional weight to his 6’2” frame during off season workouts, bulking up to 208 lbs compared to his professional debut of 195 lbs.
The left-handed Palatine Fremd High School graduate has his eyes on the Midwest League entering Spring Training.
“I am hoping for Wisconsin right now and trying to get a spring spot there and that is what I am shooting for,” Terry said.
As for his relationship with fellow pitcher Williams, Terry stated the Brewers’ 2013 second round selection has pushed him to be the best on the pitching mound.
“We are always competing together and when he did good, I tried to one-up him and it worked out,” Terry said.
Veteran minor league catcher Lucas May will be reporting alongside other early reports to Spring Training Saturday after Milwaukee agreed to terms on a minor league contract January 30.
May, 29, began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization when the team selected him with the eighth round pick in 2003.
The catcher played his first four professional seasons as a utility player primarily as a shortstop and left fielder from 2003-2006.
His best season came in 2007 as a member of High A Inland Empire where he belted 25 home runs with 89 RBI in 128 games. He also collected a career high 25 doubles and added three triples in his career season.
Baseball America took notice of his skills as a catcher and named him the Dodgers 17th ranked prospect following the 2007 season.
However, strikeouts plagued the Missouri native when he fanned 130 times in 2006 and 107 times during the 2007 season.
Los Angeles traded May prior to the trade deadline to the Kansas City Royals for former Brewers’ All-Star Scott Podsednik.
May batted .296 with 13 doubles and 11 home runs for the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League before the trade. He also drove in 45 runs and scored 43 times in 73 games for the Dodgers’ Triple A affiliate.
The catcher made his sole appearance in the Major Leagues in 2010 as a member of the Kansas City Royals.
In 12 games with the Royals, he batted in six runs and snagged a double before being demoted back to the minors.
Following his stay with the Royals’ organization he was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a small minor league trade.
The catcher’s numbers have steadily declined since the 2010 season and eventually served as reserve catcher for four different organizations including stops with Buffalo of the International League (Mets) and the Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh).
May will likely be relegated to reserve duty with either Nashville or Huntsville following the departure of long-time Brewers’ farmhand Anderson De La Rosa, who left for the Los Angeles Angels’ organization early in the off-season.
With the Brewers’ minor league signing of veteran catcher Matt Pagnozzi, nephew of former Major Leaguer Tom, and retention of Robinzon Diaz – he will be faced with being third on the Sounds catching depth chart.
In the wake of news surrounding the surprise retirement of former prospect Vinnie Catricala in January, Milwaukee went ahead and agreed to terms with infielder Pete Orr.
The 34-year-old left handed hitter brings 443 games of Major League experience primarily with Atlanta from 2005-2007 where he batted .263 with 12 doubles, five triples and two home runs in 271 games.
Orr, 34, was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers with the 39th round selection in 1997 from Newmarket High School in Ontario, Canada.
Current Brewers’ General Manager Doug Melvin held the same position with the Rangers when Orr was picked.
However, Orr opted not to sign with Texas following the draft and later agreed to terms as an undrafted free agent in 2009 with the Braves.
The infielder had a solid 2004 season with Triple A Richmond of the International League where he batted at a .320 clip with 16 doubles, ten triples and 24 stolen bases.
Orr’s productive 2004 campaign earned him a trip to the Major Leagues where he served as a utility player with the Braves in 2005 with 25 games at second base, 15 at third base and made three appearances as a left fielder.
Through limited action his initial season he collected eight doubles and stole eight bases in 162 plate appearances. Orr maintained a .300 batting average with a .331 On Base Percentage.
Orr has not played full-time since his productive 2010 campaign with the Washington Nationals’ Triple A affiliate, the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League.
In 2010, he collected a career high 32 doubles with 12 home runs and eight triples in 489 at bats. He also notched a career best 25 stolen bases on 34 attempts.
Milwaukee will be looking to Orr as a reserve infielder with Nashville or Huntsville due to some inadequate depth up at third base.
Presently, Nashville has holdovers Stephen Parker and former prospect Taylor Green manning the hot corner. He also has experience at second base, which gives new Nashville Manager Rick Sweet more flexibility.
Originally posted on Rattler Radio:
January 17 was the last time I checked in on the field conditions. Since that day, the weather has stayed cold and there has been more snow…
Let’s take a look at how things stand with 62 days left until Opening Night:
|4||OF||Mitch Haniger||Brevard County|
|7||RHP||Devin Williams||AZL Brewers|
|9||3B||Tucker Neuhaus||AZL Brewers|
|10||3B||Nick Delmonico||Brevard County|
|15||LHP||Brent Suter||Brevard County|
|16||RHP||Damien Magnifico||Brevard County|
|19||LHP||Clint Terry||AZL Brewers|
|24||LHP||Jed Bradley||Brevard County|
|Players on the Radar|
|OF||Brandon Diaz||AZL Brewers|
|RHP||Tommy Toledo||Brevard County|
|OF||D’Vontrey Richardson||Brevard County|
Originally posted on Inside the Jackson Generals:
In 2011, Vinnie Catricala was the best player in the Mariners minor league system – two years later the Sacramento, California native is retiring from baseball.
“I am just moving on (with my life) and actually one month into the Sacramento Police Academy,” said Catricala on Monday night. “I am really excited about the police department and my future.”
Originally posted on Sound Bytes Blog:
On Monday, January 27, the Sounds turned dirt towards a brand new ballpark at Sulphur Dell–the historic site of Nashville baseball. The moment was long-awaited, and many people were on hand to help make the event special: Sounds owner Frank Ward, Mayor Karl Dean, Brewers GM Doug Melvin, Sounds first baseman Hunter Morris, major league slugger Albert Pujols, President of Minor League Baseball Pat O’Conner and several long-time Sounds fans and supporters.
With all of the above coverage, you would think the bases were covered…but let’s be honest…what’s a great historic moment without an animated GIF?
Desire and determination are what allowed 2013 Huntsville Stars’ pitcher Eric Marzec to reach the professional ranks of baseball and study the game abroad in Australia early in October.
“Come the end of the year meetings I sat down with Gord (Ash) and those guys when they came down to Huntsville and I spoke of my desire to play winter ball,” Marzec said. “They talked to me about wanting me to continue developing and this and that.”
Little did Marzec know he would need to travel to the Southern Hemisphere where he pitched for the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League.
“I just wanted to get out of Ohio and play a little bit this winter,” Marzec said. “And I also wanted to learn a little bit more.”
The Ohio native responded with multiple stellar outings including four appearances where he held opponents hitless, striking out 11 batters in six cumulative innings for the Aces.
In his final appearance January 18 against Brisbane, he fanned six Bandits through three innings of work.
If not for the sole outing December 28 against the league leading Perth Heat where allowed four earned runs in 0.1 innings, he could have accumulated three total earned runs through 14 innings.
“It was an awesome experience and I definitely think it was worth it,” Marzec said.
Marzec indicated maintaining relationships with his family and friends back in the United States was difficult including phone calls to his father at 3 am.
However, Marzec’s baseball life was not without disappointment but he was able to utilize the obstacles in his path as motivation to forge ahead.
The right-handed pitcher rose from the ranks of Central Catholic High School’s junior varsity squad to become a 30th Round Draft selection by Milwaukee in 2010.
“It goes back to when I was in high school and started seeing my same age group get called up to varsity and I wasn’t
one of them,” Marzec said.
Marzec expressed passion for the game when he talked with Brewers Farm Report about his motivation.
“It was something that I cared deeply about. I really believed I was good enough and it was something that lit the fire,” Marzec added.
Milwaukee had ideas other than his primary position of center field while he was in college and made the decision to convert him to pitcher.
“I was a position player in college and a Brewers scout gave me a chance and saw something in me as a pitcher,” Marzec said. “They wanted me to be reliever and I want to be in the Major Leagues and I will do anything I can.”
With his new position as a relief pitcher within the Brewers’ organization, there came a learning curve.
“I was always the guy that came out of center field and pitched as hard as I could,” Marzec said. “When they drafted me I realized I had to actually pitch and that is what I have been learning the last couple as far as repertoire goes.”
His progression through the Milwaukee organization was slow but steady, beginning his career in 2010 by splitting time between Rookie Arizona League Brewers and Pioneer League Helena.
Marzec accumulated 46 strikeouts compared to merely nine walks through 33.2 innings during his first season.
After a rough initial campaign with Huntsville in 2012 where he allowed 12 earned runs through 14.1 innings, he responded with his best professional season in 2013.
“I was pretty disappointed when they sent me to Brevard to start the season and it was kind of lighting the fire,” Marzec said in regards to his assignment to the High A Florida State League squad.
The right-hander made the best of his opportunity allowing one earned run through 5.2 innings with the Manatees before earning a rapid promotion back to Huntsville.
His 43 games in relief were third only to Greg Holle (51) and Casey Medlen (48) and tossed 54.1 innings with 51 strikeouts compared to 20 walks.
In addition, his 20 earned runs through the progression of his Stars’ campaign yielded him a meager 1.99 ERA.
Marzec continues to improve upon his pitch combination of fastball and slider with a developing change-up.
“I have been working on my changeup with the coaches the last three years and I am just now starting to trust it in game situations,” Marzec said.
The 26-year-old stated he has the ability to manufacture the slurve, a curveball/slider combination with varying speeds.
In the midst of a tough season for the Double A Stars, Marzec remained positive about his teammates including the see-saw battle for the Southern League Home Run crown between Brock Kjeldgaard and 2013 Brewers’ Minor League Player of the Year Jason Rogers.
“He is one of the guys that takes a lot of flack for a lot of teammates as far as getting a rise out of people,” Marzec said in regards to Rogers. “As much as he takes and gives out, he does work hard.”
In addition, Marzec indicated Rogers has a positive and sincere demeanor toward others.
“There are a lot of personalities in baseball and he is one of the genuine guys,” Marzec said. “Quiet, I would say. He can be goofy.”
Rogers’ goofy side was demonstrated in the clubhouse when Marzec frequented the ping pong table where the first baseman and Kjeldgaard would face off.
“Those two are great team guys in the clubhouse always having fun,” Marzec said. “Both of them as well as myself always find ourselves around the ping pong table.”
Marzec stated to Brewers Farm Report he is proud of what Rogers accomplished during the season where he blasted 22 home runs, second behind Kjeldgaard in the Southern League,
“It was really big for him and it was really cool and he deserved it,” Marzec said. “Especially after that monster season he had.”
Marzec remains active in his hometown during the off-season including involvement within the community and has added further college education to his agenda.
“I have friends that are still here and are very involved in Boys and Girls Clubs and I come into schools and speak to the kids,” Marzec said.
In addition, he remains supportive to his Mother’s efforts at her church during the holiday season.
“My mom is heavily involved in the local church so I go over there and she gets me involved in activities when it comes to the holidays,” Marzec said.
Following his undergraduate degree in Finance from Youngstown State, he enrolled in a Masters of Business Program at a nearby private college.
“I want to make the best use of my time and kind of want to better myself,” Marzec said in regards to taking MBA classes during the off season.
Throughout the cold winter months at Miller Park, three Brewers’ minor leaguers with Wisconsin roots come together and work out together and have formed a bond much larger than calling the Dairy State home.
Brevard County right-hander Chad Pierce, 26, of Fond du Lac serves as the elder statesman of the three.
While all three crossed paths prior to playing for their home state team, all of them had different journeys to make it to professional ranks.
Josh Uhen, Arizona Brewers
It was a “dream come true” for Uhen when Milwaukee selected him with the fifth round pick in the 2013 Draft.
Based on where he was two years prior, it was more of a miracle after he underwent Ulner Collateral Ligament reconstruction surgery in 2011 and missed 12 months of action with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“It’s great. I grew up a Brewers fan, I grew up a Packers fan, I grew up a Bucks fan,” Uhen said. “Playing for one of my home state teams means a lot. When I got the call from them it did not seem real. It took awhile for it to set in.”
Uhen crossed paths with Markson in 2012 when both were members of the Northwoods League team Lakeshore Chinooks in Mequon, Wis.
“It was my first real taste of some really solid college ball because I didn’t really get a chance” Uhen said. “Before that I had the elbow surgery.”
The 6’4” right-handed pitcher rebounded during the later portion of his first professional season with the Arizona Brewers where he lost six of his ten initial appearances.
“It had a lot to do with getting some repetitions. I had a hard time getting some innings in and repetitions throughout my college career,” Uhen said. “Once I got out there and had the coaches helped.”
Uhen found his groove during his final four appearances where he allowed just two earned runs through a stretch of 13.2 innings and walked just four batters. He also notched 12 strikeouts during the home stretch of the season.
Markson remains optimistic about his fellow Chinooks’ teammate as he climbs through the Brewers’ organization.
“I have known Josh for a few years and he is a good friend of mine and he is a good guy and great baseball player,” Markson said. “He has a pretty high ceiling and the Brewers think very highly of him.”
“I am excited to get into a full season here of professional baseball,” Uhen stated as he looks into 2014.
Charlie Markson, Helena Brewers
Markson experienced a new sense of faith and love of baseball with the Helena Brewers in 2013 after a high pressure senior season at the University of Notre Dame.
The Whitefish Bay native stated he was relieved when Milwaukee announced him as the team’s 38th round selection in 2013.
“After my senior year I would have been excited to be given a chance by anybody and it was the Brewers and it made it much more cool,” Markson said. “I was just happy to play somewhere at the professional level.”
Markson’s batted a career low .209 with three doubles and 21 RBI his final season with the Irish after a successful junior season where he produced a .303 batting average and .390 On Base Percentage.
“I cannot really put my finger on anything that went wrong but I just know that I put too much pressure on myself to succeed and to get drafted,” Markson said. “It just kind of spiraled out of control. It was a mentally frustrating season for me.”
The outfielder credited Helena’s hitting coach Chuckie Caufield for putting him back on the right track.
“I contribute my success this year to Chuckie,” Markson said. “He makes it simple and makes it easy to understand and relatable because he just got out of playing baseball so he understands the coaching aspect, he understands the playing aspect.”
Markson responded considerably to Caufield’s guidance with a .288 batting average and .377 OBP in his initial season. He also scored 35 runs and collected 12 doubles in 46 games in the Pioneer League.
“He is a great medium between players and coaches,” Markson said. “He just made it fun again. I was looking at baseball as more of a job and with Helena I got a fresh start.”
It also gave him a new geographical experience playing in the Rocky Mountains for the first time in his life.
“I thought it was a great experience because I have played all across the country but that was one area where I never been to,” Markson said.
Chad Pierce, Brevard County Manatees
Pierce was drafted with the 38th round selection in the 2011 draft from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he first met Uhen as a freshman of a developing Panthers’ program.
The 26-year-old shouldered significant responsibility for an injury-riddled Manatees’ rotation where first-round selection Jed Bradley was lost for the season and other pitchers missed starts.
“When players get hurt, you got to step up and help out and get out there and get in as many innings as possible so your bullpen doesn’t get worn out,” Pierce said.
Pierce responded by accruing second-most innings on the Manatees with 108.2 and allowed just 52 walks and struck out 106 Florida State League hitters in 2013.
“I felt that it was a very positive season, aside from a couple of bad outings I continued pitching throughout the rest of the year,” Pierce said.
Pierce produced his best outing of the year in his final appearance of the season August 31 where he struck out eight batters and allowed one earned run in six innings.
However, Pierce endured a tough initial season with Pioneer League Helena in 2011 where he allowed 50 hits and 29 earned runs through 39.1 innings.
He was able to bounce back with a better sophomore season within the organization as a member of the Single A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers notching 115 strikeouts and allowing 41 walks through 124.2 innings.
The right-hander told Brewers Farm Report he has been impressed by Uhen’s progression since he saw him as a freshman and is just getting to know Markson during his workout experience at Miller Park.
When Pierce was asked about how he reacted to being drafted by his home state team, he stated he never could believe he’d be “part of an organization” he grew up watching.
Fellow Wisconsinite Charlie Markson sees Pierce as a player to look up to as the person with the most experience.
“When I first met Chad I knew he’d fit in great with us,” Markson said. “He knew (Uhen) from college. It’s kind of nice to have someone there that has been with the organization for a few years.”
“When (Uhen) and I have questions, (Pierce) is always willing to answer them. He is really helpful during those workouts and he kind of shows us how to function in the off season,” Markson added.