By Jason Arndt
Brewers Farm Report
Tyler Wagner confirmed late Thursday night that he has been promoted from Double A Biloxi to parent club Milwaukee.
The confirmation comes after multiple news outlets, including FoxSports Ken Rosenthal, that the 24-year-old right-hander will make his Major League debut Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Miller Park.
He indicated that he will be boarding a flight to Milwaukee Friday.
Milwaukee’s 12th ranked prospect has started in nine games for the Shuckers this season, accumulating 53 2/3 innings and has allowed 12 earned runs on 45 hits (2.01 ERA).
He became the Southern League’s first four game winner in a Biloxi 8-2 victory against Pensacola April 27, and followed up with two consecutive seven inning starts, but yielded No Decisions.
Wagner has maintained steady control through the progression of the 2015 season, compiling a 38-15 strikeout-walk ratio, and has stated before that he relies heavily on the defense behind him in inducing ground ball outs.
In 401 minor league innings, he has struck out 319 hitters compared to 141 walks.
Milwaukee’s recall comes after the injury by starter Wily Peralta, necessitating the need to place him on the 15-day disabled list, leaving the Brewers without a viable fifth starter.
The Brewers kicked around the idea of starting reliever Michael Blazek, but opted to pitch Mike Fiers on short rest.
Speculation persisted that Milwaukee would call up lanky starter Taylor Jungmann from Triple A Colorado Springs, but the 6-6 native Texan has struggled the majority of the season.
In Jungmann’s first eight appearances, including two in relief, he has allowed 33 earned runs in 38.1 innings, giving up 45 hits and walking 21.
Jungmann made it to the sixth inning in just two of his appearances, including a victory May 1 against Omaha. He followed up with a six inning relief appearance at Memphis, holding the Redbirds scoreless, with six strikeouts and three walks.
Despite early struggles, Jungmann produced his best performances in his last two appearances.
Jungmann endured a tough loss May 23 at Salt Lake, striking out seven and walked one hitter through seven innings, and allowed two earned runs on seven hits.
Tyler Thornburg was another option, but has seen limited success at the Major League level, and has been knocked around in six appearances with the Sky Sox after being demoted from Milwaukee.
Meanwhile, in another development, the Shuckers will play at MGM Park June 6 amid speculation the opening would be delayed for another two months.
The City of Biloxi cited earlier in the week that the stadium would not be ready by the targeted June 6 date, but after intense negotiations with the Shuckers, an agreement was met.
According to WLOX in Biloxi, money was a primary concern, noting an expedition of construction could cost the city an extra $380,000.
In the same report, city officials anticipate economic growth will offset the cost of paying Yates Construction to expedite the process, with the Shuckers and city of Biloxi each pitching in $100,000.
Yates Construction agreed to the cost reduction, according to the report.
Entering the 2015 season, observers would believe the Biloxi Shuckers would wear down in the midst of a 60-day road trip, after MGM Park in downtown Biloxi faced construction delays.
Based on the first 28 games, the players never got the memo, and continue to take their “Road Warrior” status in stride.
Shuckers’ general manager Buck Rogers prepared his players prior to the season, arriving to Arizona a week before opening day, to inform them.
Rogers expects MGM Park to be ready by June 6 when the Shuckers face the Mobile BayBears.
The 6,000 seat MGM Park, which began construction late last year, faced a lengthy process of relocating the team from Huntsville to Biloxi.
Huntsville Stars owner Miles Prentice sold the Stars to Ken Young for $14 million, according to the Huntsville Times, and was later approved by the Southern League.
“This is a collective effort between the players, coaches, staff and clubhouse managers,” Rogers said. “The guys are doing an excellent job of staying ahead of the game.”
Rogers received assistance from the Penske Corporation, who is providing a moving truck for the team as they move from city to city.
Shuckers’ outfielder Michael Reed is fortunate for the truck, indicating that “we got quite a bit of stuff to carry around.”
Outfielder Kyle Wren, who was acquired in an off-season trade with Atlanta, said it all boils down to team chemistry.
“It really has not been as bad people presume it would be, we got a good group of guys that come together, and we are about halfway there,” Wren said. “While we are having fun on the road, we are not using it as an excuse, we will continue to play hard.”
Wren, the Brewers’ 17th ranked prospect on MLB.com, is third in stolen bases with nine thus far and produced a six-game hitting streak early in the season, batting 7 for 25 with a two doubles, two stolen bases and four runs scored.
“I have been treated very well, and the Brewers have been very good to me,” Wren said. “I love the coaching staff and I can’t be any happier.”
“I think it is just the team makeup, I have been on teams before where things did not mesh,” Wren said. “But this team has great chemistry and if you don’t have team chemistry, you won’t win many games.”
Reed, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2011 draft from Leander High School in Texas, has drastically improved, compared to his 2014 season with High A Brevard County of the Florida State League.
The 22-year-old fleet footed outfielder is batting .316 with a .394 OBP in the first 26 games of the season for the Shuckers. He hit .255 with a .396 OBP for the Manatees last year.
Reed acknowledged that this “is a new experience” but cites team chemistry as the driving force behind the early success of the team.
While he enjoys the camaraderie of his teammates, he admits he looks up to two teammates with Major League experience, Taylor Green and Jaye Chapman.
“(Taylor) has been in the big leagues, so I pick his brain a lot, and also Jaye Chapman,” Reed said.
In addition to both outfielders, the Shuckers have two of only three unbeaten pitchers in the Southern League, Hall and Wagner.
Hall, who boasts a 4-0 record and is third with a 1.32 ERA, noted team chemistry has made the trip easier.
“If we didn’t get along like we do it would be tough on the road. But our team is well balanced and everyone has a great time everyday,” said Hall, who was named the Brewers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Month.
Wagner, who has the same record, and is fourth behind Hall with a 1.50 ERA, believes the road trip has led to a more firm bond between teammates.
“It’s been going well, the trip is something to embrace because we are getting to know each other a lot better,” Wagner said.
Wagner relies heavily on the defense behind him for his string of six strong performances on the mound.
The 24-year-old picked by the Brewers in the fourth round of the 2012 draft was the Southern League’s first four-game winner. Wagner has amassed 36 innings with 28 strikeouts and issued just 11 walks. He has held opponents to six earned runs on 27 hits.
“It is about not trying to do too much, and keep my pitch counts low, get some ground balls, and let my defense do the work,” said Wagner, who helped his own cause, belting his first career home run April 27 against Pensacola.
In addition to on-field performances by the players, which includes shortstop and top ranked Brewers prospect Orlando Arcia, Rogers has been impressed with second-year manager Carlos Subero, along with Sandy Guerrero and Chris Hook.
“Our coaching staff is doing a real nice job of keeping things together,” Rogers said.
Arcia, 20, is in the top five in four statistical categories in the Southern League, batting average (3, .358), runs (T1, 18), hits (T2, 34) and On Base Percentage (5, .417).
While the team continues their road trip, the players continue to stress the importance of having fun, relaxing when needed and grasping the moment.
“We just relax and have fun, not take the game so seriously, we play cards or go to the movies on the road to take our mind off the game for awhile,” Wren said.
Rogers jokingly said the team has incurred one roadblock, when they were not allowed to watch the welterweight championship bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao at their former home in Huntsville.
However, according to Reed, the team managed to find ways around obstacle, hitting up downtown bars following the game.
“Given our address (at Joe Davis), the provider would not allow it,” Reed said. “We tried to get it at the stadium, but they would have charged us a ton, but we were able to catch it some place. We all found a way to watch it.”
However, Reed and the rest of the Shuckers acknowledge there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and paid a visit to MGM Park on April 14.
“It was their day off, and they could have stayed in bed if they wanted to, but they wanted to take a stadium tour in the rain,” Rogers said.
Players were able to talk with construction workers about the nooks and crannies of their eventual home and were floored, Rogers said.
“I think it is going to be an awesome stadium, and it looks great, we are all excited,” said Reed, who personally monitors the progress on the Shuckers’ team website.
“It’s in a great location and it is going to look awesome. They are just placing sod on the field either today or tomorrow, and we are about halfway there,” Wren said.
“It should be a great stadium and the atmosphere should be great, and look forward to being there,” Wagner said.
By Jason Arndt
Brewers Farm Report
After a dismal 2014 season with High A Brevard County, Victor Roache has shown a resurgence in the first 18 games of the 2015 season, but has plenty of room for improvement.
Hopes were high for the 23-year-old Roache when he belted a team record 22 home runs for Single A Wisconsin in 2013, a year after being drafted in the first-round by the Milwaukee Brewers.
But plate discipline has plagued him since arriving from Georgia Southern University, striking out 137 times in his first professional season, and subsequently fanned 138 times last year.
While he supplanted Hunter Morris as Brevard County’s single season home run record holder with 18 home runs last year, his batting average plummeted from .248 in 2013 to .226 in 2014, and On Base Percentage took a harder nosedive from .322 to .298.
He walked 46 times in 2013, but experienced a decline of 9 walks last season.
However, he has substantially improved this season, accumulating a 9-game hitting streak, and has hit safely in 11 of the last 12 games.
In the span of 12 games, he is batting .388 with a line of .464 OBP and 1.179 OPS. He has accumulated 19 hits, collected two doubles, a triple and four home runs with 13 RBI.
In the first 18 games of his 2015 campaign, he has pounded out 23 hits, collected two doubles and has five home runs with 18 RBI in 70 at bats for a .329 batting average and 1.005 OPS.
At this time last year, he hit .188 with no home runs and drove in eight runs and plating six.
Despite showing glimmers of hope, Roache continues to be hindered by plate discipline, striking out 23 times in 18 games, compared to 15 at this time last year.
Additionally, the clock could be ticking for him, he will turn 24 at the end of the season and compared to another 2012 draftee, 21-year-old Tyrone Taylor, he is lagging behind schedule.
Roache, who shared the outfield with Taylor and Michael Reed at Single A Wisconsin, is the sole player remaining in Brevard County when Taylor was given the promotion to AA Huntsville (Biloxi) during the 2014 post season, and assignment of Reed to Biloxi prior to opening day.
Kyle Wren knew he would be a marked man heading into the off season within the Atlanta Braves organization.
The 23-year-old outfielder was drafted by his father, Frank, in the eighth round of the 2013 draft following three productive seasons with Georgia Tech.
When Atlanta fired Frank in Sept. 2014, Kyle began to prepare for a new organization.
“I wasn’t naïve about it, in the back of my mind, I knew there was a possibility I would get traded this offseason,” Kyle Wren said. “They were up front about it, it wasn’t a bad situation.”
Milwaukee stepped up to the plate and offered 20-year-old right-handed pitcher Zach Quintana, who compiled a career 11-13 record, 6.15 ERA, 139 strikeouts, 103 walks in 194.2 innings from 2012-14.
The Brewers acquisition of Kyle Wren immediately placed the left-handed hitter as the organization’s 12th rated prospect following two seasons within the Braves organization.
In his two seasons, Kyle Wren batted .304 with 35 doubles, 13 triples and stole 81 bases in 185 games as he ascended through four different levels of the Braves minor league system.
He stole 33 of his 46 bases with Advanced A Lynchburg of the Carolina League through 76 games in 2014.
The 23-year-old was acquired by the Brewers midway through a game in the Arizona Fall League.
“I couldn’t be happier with being in the organization, especially after hearing that the Brewers instigated the trade talk after learning about the situation with my Dad,” Wren said. “They thought they could get me for a cheaper cost than they would have.”
Kyle Wren already knew two of the Brewers prospects prior to the trade, teaming up with two Brewers’ first-round selections, Jed Bradley at Georgia Tech and Victor Roache during a 2011 Cape Cod League stint.
“The good thing about it is when I heard it was to the Brewers, I knew a lot of guys on that team, I know Jed Bradley from playing with him at Georgia Tech,” Wren said. “I played with Victor Roache up in the Cape Cod League, so there is a couple of them I knew quite while in the organization.”
Kyle Wren said he looks forward to reconnecting with Jed Bradley during his new journey through the Brewers’ organization, and had admiration for the pitcher while he was a freshman with the Yellowjackets.
“He has one of the hardest work ethics I have ever seen, he is one of the reasons I think I ended up working so hard,” Kyle Wren said.
Additionally, Kyle Wren was amazed by Roache’s mindset during the Cape Cod League, around the time he became considered one of the most notable prospects as a power-hitter.
“We became friends in the Cape Cod League…he was just a really humble guy and you expect those big home run hitters to be cocky and he was just a humble guy,” Kyle Wren said. “I really respected him with how he handled all of that.”
Kyle Wren has reasons for optimism heading into his inaugural campaign within the Brewers organization.
Despite holding a slim 5-foot-10 frame, he believes he has packed on extra muscle following a rigorous off season.
“It has always been tougher for me to pack on muscle,” Kyle Wren said. “With a professional off season, I have a much longer period of trying to work and getting stronger than in college.”
He entered the AFL registering in at 172, and reports checking in at 185 within the last two weeks, the heaviest he has been.
“I am just trying to come in with a little more muscle on my frame and take it to another level of play,” Kyle Wren said.
Kyle Wren was one of four outfielders added to the Brewers organization, following the departure of three longtime farmhands, Kentrail Davis, Sean Halton and Caleb Gindl.
Peterson, 26, was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs and sports a career .284 average with 175 doubles, 25 triples, 57 home runs and 435 RBI in seven professional seasons. He has two games of Major League experience with Oakland in 2013, where he batted 1-7 with three strikeouts.
Long, 27, was acquired along with left-handed reliever Jarrett Martin from the Los Angeles Dodgers for catcher Shawn Zarraga.
Like Peterson, Long also bats left-handed, but has never accrued a full season at the Triple A Level.
Long has a career .286 average with a .365 OBP and has collected 146 doubles, 54 triples, 60 home runs with 370 RBI in seven professional seasons. He has drawn 322 walks but has struck out 509 times in 2,989 plate appearances.
Guez, a free-agent signee, has a career .258 average with 77 home runs and 349 RBI in seven seasons.
By Jason Arndt
Brewers Farm Report
A plethora of new outfielders at the upper levels of the Milwaukee Brewers’ minor league system will be evident entering the 2015 season following departure of key longtime farmhands.
The Brewers made their final farewells to a flurry of departing outfielders, including former first-round selection Kentrail Davis and two frequent fliers to Miller Park in Caleb Gindl and Sean Halton.
Milwaukee’s loss of Davis to the Los Angeles Angels in the Triple A phase of December’s Rule V draft should not come as a shock.
Davis, 26, did produce a solid, but unremarkable, minor league career with the Brewers and remained in a holding pattern of his development in Double A since 2012.
The first-round selection in 2008 batted a career .266 with a .358 on base percentage, stole 103 bases and collected 118 doubles, 34 triples and scored 326 runs in 596 career games dating back to 2010.
In Davis’ 2,518 career plate appearances, he drew 265 walks and struck out 482 times.
With the starting outfield core in place at Miller Park for at least another 3-5 years, including Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Khris Davis, the new Los Angeles Angel would be in his 30’s by the time he reaches Miller Park.
Similar to last season’s Rule V loss of infielder Eric Farris, Milwaukee might have looked out for Kentrail Davis’ best interests, with hopes the once-promising outfielder can latch on to another organization and succeed.
Outfielder Sean Halton was plucked by the Baltimore Orioles in the same Rule V draft after accruing time with Triple A Nashville and parent club Milwaukee the last two seasons.
Halton, 27, batted .238 with a .291 on base percentage in 42 career Major League games with the Brewers in 2013. In his 42 games, he collected four doubles, belted four home runs and drove in 17 runs. Halton drew just five walks and struck out 31 times in 111 plate appearances.
Halton also remained in a holding pattern in Triple A, playing his last three of six seasons with Nashville.
The new Orioles’ farmhand had his best season in 2011 while a member of the Huntsville Stars, collecting a career-high 39 doubles and batted .298 with a .346 OBP.
Gindl, 26, signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays after Milwaukee attempted to outright him off the 40-man roster to make room for new additions, and led to his subsequent release by the Brewers.
The 26-year-old left-handed hitter played 65 career Major League games between 2013-14, batting .232 with a .335 OBP. He collected seven doubles, two triples and belted five home runs with 14 runs driven in.
Other key losses were veteran outfielder Jeremy Hermida, who initially agreed to a minor-league contract at the start of the off season after one season with Nashville, was released so he could further his career in Japan.
Josh Prince, considered an Arizona Fall League wonder, made an appearance at Miller Park but his career never flourished following his AFL campaign in 2012.
Following a tough 2013 campaign with the Brevard County Manatees where he faltered down the stretch, left-handed pitcher Brent Suter is making a statement with the Double A Huntsville Stars in 2014.
The 24-year-old Harvard graduate has produced a 3-0 record allowing a mere three earned runs through 25 innings pitched in the Southern League. He also has walked just four batters and allowed 11 hits for a WHIP of .600 to begin the season with a bang.
Suter produced a stellar eight inning appearance in his last start April 23 against Mobile and allowed one earned run to pick up his third victory of the season.
In his one No Decision April 12, he pitched six innings and allowed one earned run in a Stars’ ten inning loss against Pensacola.
The lanky pitcher from Cincinnati struck eight Mississippi Braves April 17 to match his second most strikeouts in a game, only to his 11 while a member of the Brevard County Manatees in 2013.
In his career high performance with the Manatees he took a rough loss allowing one earned run through his seven innings of work in his career best game.
Teammates of Suter through his career with the Brewers organization told Brewers Farm Report previously he is a fearless pitcher who has the composure to go after hitters.
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.