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.
It took just 55 games with Single A Wisconsin for 2012 first round selection Mitch Haniger to convince Milwaukee to move him up the organizational ladder to Brevard County.
The decision to promote him to the Florida State League team even caught Haniger off guard as he was in the middle of an Iowa road trip with the Timber Rattlers.
“I was in Quad Cities when I got the call to Brevard, and the next day I traveled to Wisconsin and packed up and got down to Florida,” Haniger said.
Haniger’s promotion was near improbable given his season-ending injury just 12 games into the 2012 season after sustaining a partial tear to a knee ligament at play at the plate.
However, the 22-year-old California-born outfielder made a rapid recovery and considers himself grateful the injury was not as terrible as originally believed.
“I found out pretty quickly that I did not need surgery,” Haniger said. “Luckily things went very well and came back very quickly.”
Haniger made a statement early in the season for the Brewers’ Single A affiliate.
He gathered 43 hits in 145 at bats (.297 batting average) and knocked in 25 runs prior to the promotion.
Of his 43 hits, 19 were extra base hits (12 doubles, two triples, five home runs) and scored 24 times.
In addition, the speedy outfielder stole seven bases in seven attempts and walked 25 times for an On Base Percentage of .399.
Following an adjustment to the pitching-rich Florida State League his first 20 games, Haniger is catching on rapidly.
In the last 26 games, he produced 29 hits in 100 at bats for an average of .290 and tabulated 13 walks to give him an On Base Percentage of .368.
Haniger collected three of his seven doubles in the span in the August 17 blowout victory over the Daytona Cubs. In addition to the three doubles, he drove in three of the ten runs and batted 3-for-5 with two runs scored.
“I just went with whatever they gave me and not try to do too much,” Haniger said. “And not start something up every time you come to the plate.”
The outfielder is looking to make a strong statement as the season draws to a close in Brevard County – after a struggling start with the team.
“I am not pressing at all. I am just trying to finish out the season,” Haniger said. “I am just taking it one at bat at a time, one game at a time. I am not trying to worry about the future.”
Brevard County one of two winning teams
The Manatees are one of two teams within the Brewer organization with winning records and Haniger does not seem surprised given the history and chemistry between teammates.
“We won the Midwest League last year and all of us in the clubhouse knew how to win,” Haniger said. “That is why we have been able to compete.”
In addition, he notes all of the players within the clubhouse knows the role they serve on the team.
“There is not one particular guy in the clubhouse that leads the team in the vocal standpoint,” Haniger said.
He also spoke highly when asked about the impression infielder Nick Delmonico is making on the team after being acquired from Baltimore for veteran reliever Francisco Rodriguez.
“He has a great approach at the plate and very disciplined,” Haniger said. “He is battling some injuries right now,” Haniger said.
The Haniger File
11th Rated Prospect in Brewers system
|Born: December 23, 1990|
|Birthplace: Santa Clara, CA|
|Height: 6’2” Weight: 180|
Bats: Right Throws: Right
College: California Polytechnic State University
Drafted: First round (38th) overall by Milwaukee in 2012
Drafted alongside 10th rated prospect Clint Coulter and 8th rated prospect Victor Roache in the first round
Manatees’ pitcher Tyler Cravy is craving more starts after producing multiple stellar outings after coming out of the bullpen.
With the loss of left-hander Jed Bradley for the season and struggles of other top rated pitchers to start the season, Manatees’ Manager Joe Ayrault turned to Cravy.
“I made a couple spot starts in his place,” Cravy said. “It gave me the chance to be in the starting rotation and I was not sure how long I would be there but things have worked out great.”
The 24-year-old right-handed pitcher has allowed just six earned runs in his last eight outings spanning 42.1 innings.
He has started seven of the the eight outings compiling just a 2-1 record and a few no decisions for the Florida State League team.
Cravy struck out a season-high eight batters in his last two appearances totaling 12.1 innings combined.
Brevard County saw Cravy as a late-inning setup man to closer Tommy Toledo at the start of the season.
Cravy believes the transition to starter has allowed him better preparation and ability to sharpen up his pitches.
“As a starter it is just an opportunity for more time in between starts,” Cravy said. “And working on mixing up my pitches.”
The 17th round selection in 2009 believes the slider is giving him the best route of success in his most recent starts.
“I am pretty confident with my slider lately,” Cravy said. “I sometimes pitch it a little slower to get guys out and faster to jam it in.”
Cravy believes there are telltale signs he will have a good game during pre-game warmups including the ability to mix up his pitches.
“Definitely the fastball, if it leaves my hand well,” Cravy said. “If I can throw sliders for strikes. Its good indication of how I will do.”
Brevard County’s catching core of Cameron Garfield and Rafael Neda are credited with keeping him level throughout games.
“They both do a great job calling games and tell on me to stay on top of my pitches,” Cravy said. “They helped me out a lot.”
Cravy spent all of 2012 with both catchers with the Single A Midwest League Champion Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and learned quickly the difference between both leagues.
“They (hitters) are definitely more disciplined and you do not get away with bad pitches,” Cravy said. “If you get a bad pitch in, chances are you are going to pay for it.”
And as Cravy progresses slowly up the organization’s minor league ladder, he has shown signs of improvement on an annual basis.
Regards to Jacob Barnes, Brent Suter
Cravy noted fellow starter Jacob Barnes as another reason for the Manatees’ high points throughout the season.
Barnes came on in a rare relief appearance following an early departure by Milwaukee’s number 19 rated prospect Damien Magnifico August 23 to pick up his ninth victory of the season.
In the game, he struck out six batters in six innings and allowed just one walk and no earned runs to help the Manatees to a 3-1 win.
Barnes has boasts a 9-3 record with an earned run average of 3.02 in 101.1 innings pitched for the 2013. Milwaukee selected Barnes in the 14th round of the 2011 draft.
In addition, team-leader Brent Suter in Innings Pitched was noted for the ability to keep his walks down and Cravy mentioned his tall and lanky body type as the reason for taking on an extensive amount of innings.
Riding a nine-game hitting streak was a clear indication Clint Coulter was ready to play fully following a season of injuries and missed time.
Milwaukee’s tenth rated prospect lost a month of the season after partially tearing a knee ligament and was a new experience for the 20-year-old catcher.
“I slid in late to second trying to break a double play and twisted my leg,” said Coulter in regards to how he was injured with Wisconsin early in the season.
Now the catcher is showing signs he is healthy given a torrid August with the Arizona League Brewers.
Coulter batted .420 (21-50) for the Arizona Brewers with five doubles, three home runs and 15 runs batted in which includes the nine-game hitting streak.
The hitting streak carried into the Pioneer League on his first game back with the team.
Helena Manager Tony Diggs gave Coulter the start August 21 and the catcher responded with a 3-for-4 game along with two runs scored.
“It was my first knee injury and it was new experience for me to miss a month and I was like ‘oh man’,” Coulter said. “Now I am officially healthy and ready to finish the season strong.”
The 20-year-old catcher began his second season with Single A Wisconsin where he sustained an injury.
Despite Coulter’s struggles with Wisconsin, he remained optimistic the experience and exposure to a tougher league will help him in the long run.
“Absolutely. Whenever you get a chance to compete at a higher level, it’s definitely an adjustment,” Coulter said. “Hopefully I will get another opportunity, not this year, but definitely next season.”
Coulter acknowledged the territory life in the Minor Leagues can be tough especially when being reassigned to different levels of system within the same year.
“When you are the minor leagues you are going to be traveling a lot and once you reach the big leagues there is going to be travel,” Coulter said. “You just got to go out there and play the season. Your sleep is messed up and body is messed up and you just show up and play hard.”
One of the areas in Coulter’s mind is helping the Pioneer League Brewers in the playoffs after the team clinched the first half North Division.
“I am working the playoffs here and hope it brings me something to carry into the offseason,” Coulter said. “I will keep doing the same thing every game and if it keeps working use it.”
Coulter made it a point to remain focused on the catching position even with some Major League catchers switching positions to extend their careers.
“There are elements of the game you cannot control and I can’t be thinking down the line,” Coulter said “Aside from my recent injury I am still pretty young so just cross your fingers.”
Milwaukee drafted Coulter in the first round from the State of Washington, home of the Seattle Mariners.
However, Coulter grew up a Red Sox fan and fellow catcher Mike Napoli is a player he enjoyed watching the most.
“They were the underdog at the time and hadn’t won a World Series in a bunch of years so I grew up liking them,” Coulter said.
Kentrail Davis snapped a home run drought of 231 at bats with his first career blast as a member of the Nashville Sounds in Thursday’s 9-5 loss at Albuquerque.
The 25-year-old Davis’ last home run was June 13 against Chattanooga where he batted 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.
It took the 2009 first round selection from Tennessee 37 games as a member of the Triple A club to break the drought.
Despite the power shortage, the outfielder is consistently getting on base with a .350 On Base Percentage and has stolen ten bases between Double A Huntsville and Triple A Nashville in the span of 63 games.
Since his promotion to Triple A he has been the Sounds’ primary leadoff hitter after spending all of last season batting fifth for the Huntsville Stars.
In 38 games for the Sounds he is batting .276 with an On Base Percentage of .367 and has scored 20 runs.
Velez on a tear for Nashville
How about infielder/outfielder Eugenio Velez’s stint with Nashville after being claimed off waivers from the Toronto organization.
Velez has been on a major hot streak including his involvement with walk-off victory for the Triple A Nashville squad.
In a span of 25 games for the Sounds, the speedster has stolen seven bases and tabulated an On Base Percentage of .446.
The most telling of is his present 11-game hitting streak and reached base safely in nearly every game since he moved from Buffalo of the International League to the Sounds.
Velez has been a key utility player for the Sounds due to Milwaukee recalling second baseman Scooter Gennett and outfielders Caleb Gindl, Sean Halton and Khris Davis during the parent club’s injury ravaged season.
Frustrating season for Morris
Nobody wishes for a productive season more than Hunter Morris especially after a blazing 2012 campaign where he earned the Southern League Most Valuable Player along with the honor of being Milwaukee’s Minor League Player of the Year.
The organization’s seventh best prospect has shown some flashes of greatness in his first full season with Nashville. His power numbers are still there, but the rest has declined.
Morris could be pressing considerably during the final stretch of the season where he struck out nearly every game and notched a career high with 117.
“I certainly want to play better than I am,” Morris told Brewers Farm Report earlier in the month.
Nashville has attempted multiple interventions to get his bat moving again which includes dropping to fifth in the batting order and removing him at the tail end of games for defensive replacements or pinch hitting.
Third baseman Stephen Parker has been summoned to take over late in games and has been able to provide a short-term fix for Nashville Manager Mike Guerrero.
An off-season break might serve the 24-year-old first baseman best after accruing more than 700 plate appearances in 2012 which includes his time with the Arizona Fall League.
Nashville Manager Mike Guerrero had little options to douse the flames in the Sounds’ 20-2 loss against Round Rock August 19 and led multiple pitchers absorbing innings.
With a handful of pitchers on the disabled list for an extended period of time and a long end to the regular season with no days off, Guerrero needed to get the most innings out of lefty Aaron Laffey, Tim Dillard, Donovan Hand and Brent Leach.
Laffey allowed 11 earned runs through 3.1 innings before handing the ball off to Dillard who gave up three runs in a 1.2 innings.
Nashville has been without number 11 prospect Hiram Burgos since July 7 due to being sidelined with injuries and multiple rehabilitation stints between Single A Wisconsin, High A Brevard County and Nashville.
In addition, the team will be without left-hander Chris Narveson and RJ Seidel for what could be the remainder of the season.
Nashville purchased the contract of right-hander Dustin Molleken from the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Foreign League to fill gaps in the pitching staff.
Molleken, 29, has held opponents scoreless in his five appearances with Nashville. The pitcher has been primarily a reliever through his entire career dating back to 2003 when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
By Jason Arndt
Brewers Farm Report
Full length feature will be posted Friday, August 23
It has been a long and rough road for Milwaukee’s tenth rated prospect Clint Coulter.
The catcher talked with Brewers Farm Report Thursday night, a day following a 3-for-4 game where he scored two runs in Helena’s 4-3 loss to Orem.
Coulter stated he never sustained an injury through his high school playing career and his 2013 experience was a new experience.
When asked about making a return to Helena following weeks of rehab with the Arizona League Brewers, he was modest and focused on Helena’s playoff run after the team won the first half North Division title.
The catcher sustained an ankle injury attempting to break up a double play with Single A Wisconsin and noted this injury along with his spring training as the reason for his season struggles.
Coulter states he is ready to play and feels healthy for the first time all season and hopes to make it back to Wisconsin by Opening Day 2014.
Huntsville’s Jason Rogers is taking the Southern League by storm by leading the league in home runs with 20 and runs batted in with 79.
But it was not always this way for the former two-sport star after he sustained an injury which took two years to heal.
“In 2011 I broke my hamate bone earlier in the year and missed about two months,” Rogers said. “At first I had some carpal tunnel issues.”
Rogers wrote the 2011 season off after the injury and was never able to regain comfort in the batters box until he obtained career highs in home runs and runs batted in for Milwaukee’s Double A affiliate.
In addition to leading the league in both categories, he compiled a 16-game hitting streak from July 19 through August 4 and accumulated nine home runs and 20 runs batted in.
Rogers produced a career high three home runs and six RBI against Pensacola July 20 and followed up with another home run in the next game.
The first baseman and teammate Brock Kjeldgaard are having a battle for the Southern League home run crown, but Rogers remains modest about the category.
“We just go about our business and do whats good for the team,” stated Rogers in regards to Kjeldgaard, who is just one behind the first baseman and is second in the Southern League.
After Rogers bowed out of the Southern League Home Run Derby during its All-Star break, the first baseman handed off the baton to Kjeldgaard.
Rogers previous career high was 11 between Midwest League Wisconsin and Brevard County of the Florida State League in 2012.
National scouts noted the Florida State League as a pitching-rich environment where batters’ power numbers can be deceiving.
“I think it is the prospects, there are a lot of good people in that league,” stated Rogers, who belted five home runs in 67 games with the Manatees.
Rogers knew Milwaukee was interested in him after scouts continued to check in and gauge his interest during his last season with Columbus State.
Upon entering the organization following his selection by Milwaukee in the 2010 Draft, he was open to trying other positions.
“I played a little bit of outfield in Wisconsin and Brevard County,” Rogers said. “But Huntsville was the first time I was committed to solely first base.”
Upon graduating high school, the 25-year-old received a football scholarship to Alabama A&M but opted for baseball.
“And I chose baseball because I had more experience in it,” Rogers said. “Football was fun but I was better in baseball.”
Given his personality, Rogers made the decision right for him.
“I am a laid back guy and not try to do much,” Rogers said. “I try not to make things complicated.”