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.
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,”
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.
Ivy-League graduate Brent Suter has been the workhorse of the Manatees’ starting pitching core posting a team-leading 103.2 innings.
In conjunction, Suter is demonstrating tremendous control walking 29 batters and allowing 99 hits.
The left-handed Suter has produced seven victories and one complete game since his promotion from Single A Wisconsin.
Suter is showing the ability to produce at every level through his short career including his first stop at Pioneer League Helena in 2012.
After Milwaukee selected him with the 31st round pick, he posted a 4-2 record with an earned run average of 3.92 in Montana’s rocky mountain air and was promoted to Wisconsin to cap off his first season.
Milwaukee wasted no time moving him to Brevard County in 2013 after making three appearances with the Timber Rattlers where he compiled 16 strikeouts and allowed three earned runs in 15 innings.
Starter Tyler Cravy is beginning to find a groove after Brevard County made the decision to put him in the starting rotation.
After appearing in his first 14 games out of the bullpen. In his six starts since, he has logged 30 innings and allowed five earned runs.
Richardson picking up where he left off
Leadoff hitter D’Vontrey Richardson is re-emerging as a prospect after spending all of 2012 deciding whether to return to baseball or complete his degree at Florida State University.
Milwaukee kept the door open for Richardson and put together a 13-game hitting streak and has an On Base Percentage of .393.
The two-sport athlete who also was the Seminoles backup quarterback has eight stolen bases in 29 games with the Manatees.
Richardson was rated as the Brewers 20th ranked prospect at the end of the 2011 season and could be picking up where he left off.
Ramirez in top five, Delmonico adjusting
First baseman Nick Ramirez was the Florida State League’s Home Run Derby champion during its All-Star break and is second in the FSL with 18 home runs and fourth with 69 runs batted in.
Nick Delmonico, recently acquired from Baltimore for veteran reliever Francisco Rodriguez played his first 11 games with Brevard County.
Delmonico is still adjusting to the pitching-rich FSL after playing 61 games in the Carolina League where he belted 13 home runs and collected 12 doubles. The third baseman has nine hits with a double and triple in 39 at bats for the Manatees.
Life without Bradley
Brevard County has prepared to go the remainder of the season without left-hander Jed Bradley after he injured his throwing arm.
Bradley has hit multiple snags in his second season with the Manatees including stints on the disabled list and rough outings.
The former first-round pick dropped in the MLB.com prospect rankings from fifth to 16th.
For several years Brevard County’s D’Vontray Richardson was torn between playing football and baseball at Florida State University.
Despite commendations for his outstanding athleticism and potential as a professional baseball player, he spent years attempting to pull the “two-sport star” feat – and sometimes wanting to give up baseball entirely.
Milwaukee drafted Richardson, now 25, with the fifth round selection in 2009, three years after not signing with the Washington Nationals when they drafted him in the 35th round.
When Florida State University offered him the opportunity to play both baseball and football, he opted not to sign with the Nationals.
Richardson lost his 2012 season with the Brewers’ organization after refusing to report to camp and conveyed having “second thoughts” about playing baseball.
The 6’1″ former backup quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles continued to have baseball knocking on his door, but Richardson had difficulty answering the call.
He entered the 2012 season rated as the Milwaukee Brewers’ 20th best prospect in the system and was touted as a potential “five-tool guy” by his college baseball coach in 2009.
Milwaukee remained open to his return to the organization after his year-long hiatus and went through a tune-up with the Arizona League Brewers to start the 2013 season.
Brewers’ officials initially indicated he left the game for “personal reasons” and was later confirmed the outfielder had the ultimate goal of wanting to complete his college degree.
Upon his completion of the college degree in physical education, he had the desire to become a coach.
Richardson posted a .292 average with seven hits and three runs scored with the Arizona Brewers before making his return to Brevard County where he presently is riding a 13-game hitting streak.
Through the duration of his hitting streak he is batting .431 and has four 3-hit games, four 2-hit games, and five 1-hit games.
In 26 games for the Manatees, Richardson has stolen eight bases with three doubles and eight runs scored.
The quick return should not come as surprise, as the outfielder had a similar reaction when he stashed his glove away in college and returned from long layoff.
According to an article published by the Tampa Bay Times in 2009, the FSU baseball coach had this to say:
“The biggest surprise I’ve seen thus far is, he’s been out of the game for a year and a half and yet he seems to be much improved from when he left here as a freshman,” Martin said. “This is a guy who really looks polished. Certainly, he’s not shiny, but the polish is on there and we’re ready to wipe it off. He just needs to play.”
Richardson was faced with many baseball distractions early on when the Washington Nationals drafted him in the 35th round in 2006 but decided to attend Florida State where he was promised to play both baseball and football.
In the 2009 article, Richardson was touted as a potential first round selection but his stocked may have dropped when there were whispers he had doubts about focusing solely on baseball.
By Jason Arndt
Brewers Farm Report
Sean Halton started a two out rally in the first inning with a double and was driven in by a Hunter Morris single. Morris advanced to second after the 51s threw the ball towards home plate in an attempt to catch Halton.
Halton has hit safely in nine of the last ten games and batted 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored.
Morris’ single extended his hitting streak (1-4, R, RBI) to five games is batting 7-for-20 with three RBI and a triple through the same stretch. The left-hander hit his 20th home run of the season in Thursday’s win against Las Vegas.
Catcher Blake Lalli singled Morris home after Las Vegas walked Josh Prince and gave the Sounds a 2-0 lead. Lallil batted 3-for-5 with two RBI in the victory.
Marco Estrada made a rehabilitation start for Nashville pitching 2.2 innings, allowing two earned runs and two walks before being lifted for left-hander Zack Kroenke.
Kroenke and three other relief pitchers combined for to keep the 51s scoreless the remainder of the game.
Jesus Sanchez earned his third save of the season, second since the promotion of Pacific Coast League All-Star Robert Wooten to Milwaukee.
Huntsville’s Rogers hits 19th Home Run
First baseman Jason Rogers knocked his 19th home run of the season in Huntsville’s 13-2 loss to the Mississippi Braves and batted 1-for-4. The home run puts him two ahead of Mobile’s Nick Evans for the Southern League lead and his 73rd run batted in is five ahead of Birmingham’s Dan Black.
The 25-year-old Georgia native believes he is starting to get into the rhythm after being hampered by injuries through the duration of the season.
Rogers bowed out of the Southern League home run derby to rest which led to teammate Brock Kjledgaard filling the spot in the All-Star event.
Mississippi hammered starter Drew Gagnon in the Friday game for seven earned runs through three innings before Stars’ Manager Darnell Coles called for Mark Williams and Casey Medlen.
Both relievers combined for five additional earned runs before Greg Holle took over and managed to put together a scoreless inning.
Gagnon has been trying to find the same success he had a year ago with Single A Wisconsin and High A Brevard County where he combined for a 7-3 record with a 2.83 Earned Run Average.
The right-hander from California is known for his command and location has allowed 114 hits in a shade over 100 innings between Brevard County and Huntsville in 2013.