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.
Hiram Burgos was once a budding pitching prospect for the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
The Brewers sixth round selection in 2009 made waves in the organization for his breaking pitches and rapid progression through multiple levels of the Brewers organization which led to a 2013 appearance at Miller Park.
But, after a series of injuries, the 27-year-old has found his way back to Advanced A Brevard County.
The same team he made 24 appearances for in 2011, seven in 2012 and one in 2013 before solidifying his role with the Nashville Sounds in 2013 and 2014.
Burgos’ most prolific season came in 2012 when he accumulated a 10-4 record in three stops through the minor league system, Brevard County, Double A Huntsville and Triple A Nashville.
In his 27 combined games in the three levels, he struck out 153 hitters and walked 49 in 171 innings, and allowed 37 earned runs for a meager 1.95 ERA en route to a Brewers’ 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year honor.
However, after enduring an injury while a member of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2013, and rehabilitation stops with Single A Wisconsin, Brevard County and Nashville, he was limited to nine total games.
In his nine games, he compiled a 1-5 record with a 3.93 ERA in 36.2 innings.
Seeking rejuvenation, Burgos returned to his native Puerto Rico, where he played for Indios de Mayaquez for the fourth straight offseason.
The right-hander bounced back in 38.2 innings for Mayaquez, where he allowed just six earned runs on 25 hits. He struck out 35 hitters compared to 12 walks.
Upon his return to the Brewers in 2014, injuries hampered him again, making just four appearances for AAA Nashville last season.
Now, after Burgos was declared a free agent following the season, the Brewers opted to retain him on a minor league contract without an invitation to Spring Training this season.
Burgos has demonstrated some promising signs at the early portion of the Manatees season, picking up two victories, including an April 14 1-0 pitchers duel against the St. Lucie Mets.
He held the Mets to one hit in seven scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking one to pick up his first win almost a year to the day of previous win.
Prior to his initial win of 2015, he picked up an April 17, 2014 win while a member of AAA Nashville against Memphis. He struck out 10 Redbirds, allowed three earned runs on five hits and walked two through five innings of work.
He did not have to wait as long for his next win, notching a six-inning quality start May 7 against the Tampa Yankees, where he struck out seven and held the Yankees to two earned runs on six hits.
Also on the Manatees is last season’s Rule V grab Wei-Chung Wang.
The 23-year-old left-hander was picked from the Pittsburgh Pirates, but league rules indicated he needed to spend a season on the Major League squad, or be given back to Pittsburgh.
Stashed at the bottom of the Brewers’ relief corps last year, he was limited to 17.1 innings due to inexperience beyond the Rookie League.
The Brewers hope was to assign him to the minor league system for further development following the 2014 campaign, where he allowed 21 earned runs, 30 hits, six home runs and eight walks.
After an injury led him to a minor league rehabilitation the remaining four months of the season, he strung together seven solid performances with the Arizona Brewers, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Manatees.
Despite favorable rehabilitation appearances, Wang has struggled to find his rhythm with the Manatees this season.
In six starts, spanning 27.1 innings, he has allowed 18 earned runs and 36 hits, and walked 14.
Wang’s sole win came on his initial appearance April 10 against Daytona, where he held the Tortugas scoreless through six innings, allowing five hits and walking two. He also struck out six.
He was pulled in the second inning of his next start at St. Lucie April, allowing eight earned on six hits, and walked five and departed with no strikeouts.
The 23-year-old starter will likely need an additional year of development within the Brewers organization after his season with the Brewers.
Neuhaus seeks rejuvenation
It has been a turbulent start to the season for the Single A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, but there are glimmers of hope for the youthful team.
The Timber Rattlers entered Sunday with an underwhelming 8-22 record, and according to the MLB.com, just four of the top 30 prospects are with the Midwest League team.
With a team that has two first-round selections from prior years, left-handed pitcher Kodi Medeiros, shortstop Jake Gatewood, and two second-round picks in infielder Tucker Neuhaus and outfielder Monte Harrison, one would perceive high expectations for the squad.
However, aside from age, personal and medical issues derailed most of the prospects development.
All four were drafted directly out of high school, with all of them still in their teens.
Harrison, 19, was picked in the second round of last year’s draft, and has just 74 career professional games under his belt, with the bulk of his action in the Arizona Rookie League.
The 19-year-old outfielder entered his initial season nearly two years younger than the league average in Arizona as an 18-year-old last year, but held his own.
Harrison played in 50 games for Arizona in 2014, collecting seven doubles, two triples, a home run and 20 RBIs.
Although he batted .261 in his initial season, he demonstrated an ability to reach base, 31 times in 224 plate appearances, posting a .402 On Base Percentage.
Harrison took advantage of his OBP, stealing 32 of 34 bases, and scoring 37 runs.
With Harrison’s promotion to the Midwest League, where he, again, is younger than the league average at a wider margin, the outfielder has struggled to find his stroke.
In 97 plate appearances, Harrison has walked eight times, and has already struck out 48 times in 24 games; consequently, he is hitting .155 with a .268 OBP. His strikeouts are at a much higher rate compared to his initial where he whiffed 44 times.
In 24 games for the Rattlers, he has produced one multi-hit game, April 22 against Cedar Rapids. He batted 2 for 3, with two home runs, a walk and three runs, but was not enough as the Rattlers lost 5-4 at Neuroscience Group Field in Appleton.
Further hindering his efforts to find a rhythm was departing the team May 7 to address a family concern.
When the Helena Brewers open their doors in June, it might be a tough decision for the Brewers to reassign him to the Rookie Pioneer League team for a variety of factors. It will largely depend on depth within the lower levels of the Brewers’ organization following the amateur draft, and if the Brewers return someone to Wisconsin from High A Brevard County.
Neuhaus, on the other hand, could experience a rejuvenation after struggling all of last season through the start of the 2015 campaign.
The 19-year-old Neuhaus, who was selected as a shortstop in the second round of the 2013 draft, was converted to third base 24 games into his initial season with the Arizona Brewers.
Neuhaus struggled his first two seasons, drafted when he was 17, and eventually fell of the MLB.com prospect rankings.
Injuries played a role, but it was not until April 9 of this season, where one of Neuhaus’ issues may have been addressed.
The third baseman departed the team to take an eye exam in Milwaukee April 10-29, and returned with a clearer vision.
According to Kelsie Heneghan of MiLB.com, the problem began to develop during Spring Training.
The report indicated that A couple of months ago, Neuhaus noticed that the vision in his right eye got significantly worse at night. The 19-year-old played on Opening Day, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, but it wasn’t just dominant pitching that got him out, according to MiLB.com.
“Something with my eye was wrong. And the first game I was seeing the ball well while the sun was still out and then once it got dark, my vision went bad,” he said. “I have some Oakley sports glasses that I got.”
In his first game back, Neuhaus tied a career high with three RBIs, the first coming in the first inning on an unusual forceout. With the bases loaded and one out, Neuhaus — the Timber Rattlers’ No. 5 batter — hit a grounder to second baseman Gianfranco Wawoe.
Since his initial return to the batter’s box, he has bounced back, producing a nine-game hitting streak, leading up to May 8.
Through his hitting streak, he has batted 13 for 37, collected two doubles, two triples, a home run with six runs driven in.
While his ability to maintain plate discipline remains to be seen, getting one walk in 38 plate appearances, it should be a positive step in the right direction.
On the mound, last year’s first-round pick and left-hander Kodi Meideros is still seeking a rhythm, getting rocked in his last four appearances (13.1 IP, 15 H, 15 ER, 10 BB, 15 K).
Medeiros, 19, produced two solid appearances to kick off the season, including a strong outing April 12 against visiting Peoria.
In the April 12 game, he pitched six innings of no-hit baseball against the Chiefs, notching seven strikeouts and walking just one batter, but came away with a No Decision after the Timber Rattlers allowed 11 runs in the final two innings to lose 11-1.
Despite Meideros’ struggles, the Rattlers may have found a diamond in the rough in the early portion of the season, 22-year-old Cy Sneed.
Sneed has rattled off six straight stellar outings for the Brewers Midwest League affiliate following a humbling season with Rookie Pioneer League Helena in 2014.
In his first professional season with the Brewers, where he pitched 38 innings and allowed 25 earned runs, he struck out 31 hitters and walked 14.
In the Rocky Mountain air in Montana, he gave up four home runs and 50 hits through his initial season.
But this season has been different for the former Dallas Baptist University pitcher, who was previously drafted in the 35th round by the Texas Rangers out of Twin Falls High School.
The Idaho native has allowed only four earned runs through 27.2 innings for Single A Wisconsin (1.30 ERA), but has a 1-3 record, producing a 1-2 record and 1.25 ERA.
Sneed’s most formidable outing came in the Rattlers’ 2-1 victory against the Peoria Chiefs April 25 where he struck out five hitters and allowed three hits and a walk to give him his first career win.
The win came after losing at Peoria 3-2 April 20, allowing two earned runs on six hits through 4 2/3 innings, but struck out six Chiefs and issued one walk.
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.
According to sources at Fox Sports, Milwaukee is working on a trade to send long-time Brewers’ farmhand Yovani Gallardo to Texas.
There have been no reports of any players returning to Milwaukee in exchange for Gallardo, who has one year remaining on his contract.
However, we can rule out 21-year-old prospect Jurickson Profar, multiple sources said.
The potential deal makes sense for Brewers’ pitching prospect Jimmy Nelson, who could slide into the team’s starting rotation, after team officials planned to have him in the bullpen pending any off season trades of their starters.
Nelson’s 2014 campaign with the Major League club drew mixed results, starting 12 of 14 games, posting a 2-9 record and a 4.93 ERA.
Nelson, 25, had his best start of the season May 25 at Miami when he tossed 5.2 innings, allowing no earned runs with six strikeouts and three walks to earn his first career victory.
He then produced two underwhelming starts, allowing nine earned runs through 10.1 innings, but produced a solid 10:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The right-hander produced a solid start in a 2-0 loss to the New York Mets July 27, where he strung
together seven strong innings, allowing two earned runs and struck out six batters.
Based on his season trends, he accrued six starts where he pitched six or more innings, and two where he pitched seven. He was 1-3 with three no decisions in all six of those starts.
Aside from Nelson, there is speculation from a variety of individuals on Twitter that the Gallardo trade could lead Milwaukee to either a Max Scherzer or James Shields free agent signing.
A report from MLB insider Chris Cotillo indicates Scherzer has multiple offers on the table, including one for seven years, and could sign with the Washington Nationals.
Tom Haudricourt reported Sunday that the Brewers are maxed out financially, and the trade will likely clear up some of Gallardo’s $13 million salary.
Chances are slim Shields will come to Milwaukee on a free agent contract.
One of the sole objectives to the potential deal is to relieve payroll, and not add further fuel to to a belt that is already strapped.
Regardless of Nelson’s track record last season, it could be his job to lose entering Spring Training, unless the Brewers still consider Tyler Thornburg a viable option.
Brewers pitching prospect Tyler Wagner is one of several players gearing up for another season of minor league baseball.
Wagner should have plenty of reason to be optimistic about the 2015 season following his stellar Southern League debut in the AA post season and as a member of the Arizona Fall League.
The 23-year-old Las Vegas native entered the 2014 season with three consecutive victories for the Advanced A Brevard County Manatees, where he allowed three earned runs through 17 innings, striking out 12, walking eight and allowing 14 hits.
Wagner, Milwaukee’s 15th ranked prospect, did not endure his first loss of the year until a 4-2 decision May 6 against visiting Clearwater. He allowed two earned runs through seven innings, and did not issue a walk, but allowed six hits.
He then rattled seven victories in eight starts from June 9-Aug. 2, allowing a meager three earned runs through 52.1 innings, striking out 42 and holding opponents to 12 walks.
The former University of Utah closer drafted in the fourth round by Milwaukee in 2012 said the change in mindset allowed him to succeed in 2014.
“It is a different mindset to be able to pitch everyday, and being able to trust my defense in getting behind me to make plays,” Wagner said.
Overall, his mindset earned him multiple honors throughout the Milwaukee Brewers organization, Florida State League and the Arizona Fall League.
In his 25 starts for the Manatees, he accrued a 13-6 record and allowed 31 earned runs through 150 innings pitched, notching a 1.86 ERA. He had a career high in strikeouts with 118 and allowed 48 walks.
He ranked among the top five in multiple categories, including second in ERA and innings pitched, along with fourth in strikeouts.
Staying in the game, and taking one pitch at a time, was essential for his mid season and post season all-star berths in the FSL.
He also earned accolades as a Brewers’ organizational all-star.
The game which stands out was his Southern League debut as a member of the AA Huntsville Stars, he said.
In his debut, he held the Chattanooga Lookouts scoreless through six innings, and allowed just two hits, struck out four and walked one.
The season did not end for Wagner as he ventured to Glendale, AZ where he played for the Glendale Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League.
Although he did not have a stellar showing, producing a 7.43 ERA in nine relief outings, he came away with positive memories.
“It was a very great experience, just to be able to go out there, and see what those guys are doing as far as routine,” Wagner said.
As he enters the 2015 season, he believes he can be much better on the mound after developing confidence in his third pitch last season.
“I was really focusing on my change-up, my chang eup got a lot better, and now it is my third pitch to be able to have to my repertoire,” Wagner said.
The change up will be in addition to his fastball, which he said had a top speed of 95 mph in 2014, and a slider/splitter combination.
“My slider was pretty consistent all year and it was my put out pitch, but it can always be better,” Wagner said. “All three pitches can definitely always be better, but being able to have them all working is a good thing,”