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.
Small injuries can play a significant role in a pitcher’s performance on the mound and Brevard County’s Damien Magnifico was no exception after losing grip on a promising season.
Magnifico’s injury became a roadblock with the Brewers’ High A affiliate after earning a promotion from Single A Wisconsin where he produced a 5-1 record with a 3.83 ERA.
“The only thing I had wrong was that blister on my finger,” Magnifico said. “Right after I left for Florida is when I developed the blister. It happened after my third outing is when it popped back out.”
Magnifico, 22, pitched a scoreless inning against Clearwater July 10 allowing one hit and one walk before the injury recurred.
Despite his setback, the flamethrower from Texas remained positive regarding the 2014 season where he will continue to work on his off-speed pitches.
“The change-up and slider are getting better,” Magnifico said as he looks forward to his February 8 early report date for Spring Training at the Maryvale Complex in Arizona.
In addition, he demonstrated the ability to rebound from injury early in his junior college career in Big Spring, Tex.
“When I first got into junior college I only expected to be there a year and then get drafted again,” Magnifico said. “But after getting hurt and then came back the next year and only threw 21 innings.”
Magnifico became a highlight reel for the Oklahoma Sooners in an April 2012 game where he hit 100 miles per hour 22 times in 8.2 innings against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Razorbacks’ coach Dave Van Horn explained his thoughts to NewsOK.com following the game.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Van Horn said. “I looked up two or three pitches into the ninth inning, because I thought the ball was coming out of his hand pretty good, and the scoreboard said 101 (mph). You don’t see that anywhere.”
Major League scouts had Magnifico on the radar screen during his high school playing career when he was drafted by the New York Mets with the fifth round selection in 2009, but opted for further education.
Despite the attention given to him by scouts, the pitcher was seemingly focused on the moments in front of him including the day he was informed the Brewers drafted him with the fifth round selection in 2012.
“Actually while I was drafted I was at a restaurant with my girlfriend eating and then I received a text message saying I got drafted by the Brewers,” Magnifico said.
In addition, he indicated he was not fully aware of other Major League organizations interested in him during the scouting process.
“There was probably other teams but I was trying to let whatever happens, happens,” Magnifico said.
Big Apple at the core
While Magnifico was born and raised in Texas, he still claimed allegiance to where his family came from including the team he grew up watching, the New York Yankees.
“My whole family is from New York,” Magnifico said.
The Magnifico’s route to Texas was based on the family’s desire to remain close together including his Mother and Aunt.
“My mom was basically raised by her older sister and it is 15 year difference so she was raised by her,” Magnifico said. “I don’t know what brought my aunt down to Texas with my uncle.”
Magnifico also added the state’s cost of living and job opportunities led his family to Texas prior to 1991.
“My mom found a job and then within that week my dad found a job,” Magnifico said.
Crediting his fellow pitchers
While Magnifico continued to trudge through the season, he credited his relievers for making the best out of an injury-riddled Manatees starting rotation.
“The whole bullpen all stepped up and making spot starts,” Magnifico said. “Chad Pierce stepped up, Tyler Cravy started.”
Pierce, 26, capped off his 2013 season with a solid August 31 performance striking out eight and allowing one earned run to capture his sixth victory.
The Fond du Lac, Wis. native and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate was second on the Manatees to left-hander Brent Suter with 108.2 innings. He also walked just 54 batters throughout the season and had a 6-6 record with a 3.40 ERA.
Stephen Peterson was one of the relievers who helped Magnifico get out of his tough outings including the July 10 contest against Clearwater.
“While I was here his change-up vastly improved and had one of the highest percentage of fastball strikes,” Magnifico said. “All he does is throw strikes and get people out. That is all he needs to do and that is what he does.”
The left-handed Peterson picked up the win in the July 10 game striking out two batters in two scoreless innings.
“He is one of my good buddies and actually who I live with down in Florida,” Magnifico said. “He is a good guy.”
Magnifico had high regard for left-handed starter Brent Suter and team-leader with 124 innings pitched when Brewers Farm Report asked about his approach.
“Suter is crazy, he is a fun guy to be around,” Magnifico said. “He knows how to pitch and works all the corners of the plate, changes speeds. Whatever it is, he makes it work and gets people out.”
Given the journey of Tyler Thornburg during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the pitcher may have needed a GPS to find out where he is.
The 25-year-old former top prospect made a total of ten different stops from Double A Huntsville through Milwaukee since Opening Day 2012.
While Thornburg’s two stints with Triple A Nashville in 2013 were largely unsuccessful after going 0-9 in 15 starts, he was able to maintain consistency at the Major League level including his first career Major League victory June 8 against Philadelphia.
It was during the final stretch of the 2013 season when Milwaukee shuttled him between the rotation and bullpen where he posted a 2.11 earned run average through 64 innings pitched.
Not even Thornburg knew what the cause of his Major League success was.
Thornburg’s travels began June 2012 after he made a jump from Double A Huntsville to make one Major League start against the Toronto Blue Jays but allowed five earned runs through 5.1 innings June 19.
Consequently, he was then shipped to Triple A Nashville to make yet another sole appearance striking out six Memphis
RedBirds through five innings allowing two earned runs to earn a victory July 4.
Following his Sounds’ victory at Memphis, he was given a ticket back to Milwaukee to make four appearances including one start for the Brewers July 14-26 striking out ten in 8.2 innings, but allowing four earned runs.
Thornburg then spent all of August with Nashville making seven starts striking out 36 batters in 32.1 innings. The right-hander produced a respectable strikeout-to-walk ratio of 36-13, he needed to reduce the amount of hits allowed.
It was during September’s roster expansion when he was given his third taste of Milwaukee pitching two of three games out of the bullpen. While it is a small sample size, he struck out eight batters and allowed two earned runs through eight innings.
He came into Spring Training with the Brewers’ rotation committed to Wily Peralta, Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo, Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada in 2013.
Since Fiers eventually was lost for the season, Milwaukee gave pitching prospect Hiram Burgos and journeyman Alberto Figaro a chance before making the call to Thornburg.
Although Thornburg did not convince the Brewers to recall him the first two months of the 2013 season after posting an 0-7 record through 11 starts, he was given two appearances June 5 and June before being optioned back to Nashville.
In three appearances in his second Nashville stint, he suffered two tough losses June 13 and 19 where he combined for 13 strikeouts in 13 total innings allowing two earned runs but the Sounds were unable to provide the support to give him the winning decision.
Thornburg’s last appearance with Nashville June 25 yielded him ten strikeouts in 5.2 innings but allowed four earned runs – and was recalled to Milwaukee for the remainder of the season.
Milwaukee will need to make a long-term decision with Thornburg entering the 2014 season given his frequent travels and the right-hander with just one minor league option remaining.
Pending the two final rotation spots, if the Brewers decide to have him start the season with Nashville – he will be down to the “use him or lose him” scenario at the conclusion of 2014 where he will only be 26-years-old.
It would be beneficial to see how well he pitches in April for Milwaukee and allow him time to formulate into the pitcher he is meant to be.
Otherwise, by the 2015 season he will not pass waivers and end up being claimed off waivers at the worst-scenario.
Brewers will need to recognize the long-term implications on Thornburg and how the constant travels and changes in pitching roles hindered his development in less than 24 months.
With two spots open it will leave him, top prospect Jimmy Nelson, third rated prospect Johnny Hellweg and the possible return of Marco Estrada in competition.
Nelson will likely start the 2014 season with Nashville to allow more minor league seasoning and the least amount of service time on the team’s 40-man roster.
Baseball plays more games than any other sport with 140 in the minor leagues and 162 in Major League Baseball.
Despite the end of the season for all minor league teams in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, except the Helena Brewers whom will compete for the Pioneer League title, there will be developments along the way in the winter.
Six players will make an appearance in the Arizona Fall League and their performance will make-or-break standing within the Milwaukee organization and eventually lead to new assignments on the 40-man roster.
Three of the six participants are Top 20 prospects in the farm system and depending on how they perform in the AFL, it will either reinforce their standing within the organization or cause a drop.
Rogers has most to lose, and gain, in the AFL after accumulating career highs in multiple offensive categories.
Teams likely have an eye on Rogers and will make note of him when the Rule V draft is conducted in December’s MLB winter meetings. The first baseman has reached the point where he could go unprotected if not added to the 40-man roster and might be snagged by another team.
After Milwaukee spent the majority of last off-season looking for new affiliates after both teams struggled in making progress toward new stadiums – the Brewers were left with them when other clubs found or re-established PDCs with the remaining affiliates.
Brewers Farm Report will follow developments of a proposed new stadium for the Triple A Nashville Sounds after the Mayor of Nashville proposed a new $80 million stadium at the old Sulphur Dell sight.
Although Nashville will not build it in time for the 2014 season, the Brewers will deeply consider extending with the Sounds if a stadium plan is in place by the end of 2014.
Huntsville faces a similar fate with Joe Davis Stadium and for years the Brewers pushed the Stars to come forward with a plan to build or renovate the 29-year-old facility.
Milwaukee made it clear during last off-season of its disappointment in Joe Davis Stadium.
There has been swift community opposition in Huntsville for the potential of a new stadium due to involving taxpayer contributions.
If history is any indication of the severity of the issue, look at how the 23-year relationship between Single A Beloit and Milwaukee ended in 2004.
Following decades of Beloit struggling to upgrade Pohlman Field, Milwaukee severed ties with the Snappers and entered into a working agreement with the Appalachian League West Virginia Power before agreeing with the Timber Rattlers.
While Nashville’s future is promising with proposals, the Stars will have an entire year to come forward with a plan of action.
Huntsville and Milwaukee have been together since 1999 and the Brewers have been with the Stars longer than any of the other four affiliates in the organization.
Given the long-term outlook of the Milwaukee Brewers, there will likely be a trade or two involving Major Leaguers and lead to a return of prospects from other organizations.
Brewers Farm Report will provide information and summaries of the players involved in the off-season deals.
Huntsville’s Ariel Pena notched his third victory in five starts as the Stars shut down Jackson 7-0 Sunday.
Pena struck out six batters through his five innings and allowed just two hits to cap off the season posting an 8-9 record and earned run average of 3.73.
The pitcher acquired in the 2012 mid-season with Brewers’ All-Star Jean Segura and fellow pitcher Johnny Hellweg for Zack Greinke produced three scoreless outings in the five game span.
Pena has allowed just four earned runs through his last 29 innings including a tough No Decision August 21 against Pensacola.
The Brewers’ number 13 rated prospect went eight innings and allowed no earned runs in the No Decision and his eight strikeouts were the most since May 8 against Pensacola when he fanned ten in 6.1 innings.
Rogers is streaking along
Southern League All-Star Jason Rogers extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a 2-for-3 night at the plate and knocked in three runs.
The Stars’ first baseman is batting .318 over the last 12 games with eight runs batted in. His hitting streak is the second time where he has produced a streak lasting more than ten games.
Rogers compiled a 16-game hitting streak from July 19 through August 4 and accumulated nine home runs and 20 runs batted in. He maintained a phenomenal .383 batting average and On Base Percentage of .489 through the 16-game stretch.
Sunday’s three runs batted in allowed Rogers to remain in a commanding lead with 87 RBI compared to Birmingham’s Dan Black who has 83.
Despite his stretch, he has a home run drought and resulted in teammate Brock Kjeldgaard ovetaking him for the Southern League with 23 home runs.
Kjeldgaard belted a home run in back-to-back games August 29 and 30 against Jackson.
Owings throws the heat
Micah Owings responded to his first career Stars’ home run Saturday with a scoreless inning on the mound in relief of Pena Sunday.
The former Major League pitcher is continuing his desire to convert himself to a “hybrid” player in baseball circuits.
Owings has held opponents scoreless in all of his outings (11 innings) with the Brewers’ organization dating back to July 27 when he was with the Arizona Brewers of the Rookie League.
In addition, he has struck out 15 batters and walked just two between Arizona and Huntsville.
It took more than a month for Taylor Jungmann to capture his tenth victory after a tough season in Double A Huntsville.
But Jungmann managed to break Saturday against the Jackson Generals in his last start of the year allowing two earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched.
His last victory came July 6 against the Tennessee Smokies where he struck out seven batters in 6.2 innings allowing two earned runs. Jungmann exhibited solid location of his pitches demonstrated by walking one batter through the duration of the game.
Jungmann came up short on August 4 against the Mississippi Braves after pitching six innings and allowing two earned runs and no walks, but departed on the hook for the loss with the Stars at an 0-2 deficit.
Fortunately, Frankie De La Cruz and Eric Marzec produced three scoreless innings and the offense picked it up in the later innings to win 3-2.
Milwaukee’s first round selection in 2011 pitched a near flawless game June 21 allowing no earned runs through seven innings. However, he was credited with an unearned run following a fielding error.
The number two rated prospect in the Brewers’ system went 49.2 innings before he snapped his skid – and could set the tone for his appearance in the Arizona Fall League starting in October.
Owings, Gomez get it done for Huntsville offense
Micah Owings blasted his first career Huntsville home run on a two-run blast in the sixth inning to allow Jungmann to breath a sigh of relief after departing the game on the hook for the loss.
In addition, his first Stars home run snapped a home run drought dating back to his time with Syracuse of the International League – June 26 against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The former Major League pitcher is working on converting himself to the outfield after displaying a promising young pitching career.
Owings produced his best game of the his Stars’ season batting 2-for-3 with two runs scored along with the two-run blast.
Shortstop Hector Gomez was a home run short of the cycle after batting 3-for-4 with a run batted in and run scored.
Gomez doubled in third baseman Mike Walker in the Huntsville second inning and followed up with a triple in the fifth inning and scored off of a Chadwin Stang sacrifice fly.
The infielder singled in the seventh inning, but was unable to get the elusive home run in the bottom of the eighth with a groundout.
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.