By Jason Arndt
Brewers Farm Report
Tyler Wagner confirmed late Thursday night that he has been promoted from Double A Biloxi to parent club Milwaukee.
The confirmation comes after multiple news outlets, including FoxSports Ken Rosenthal, that the 24-year-old right-hander will make his Major League debut Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Miller Park.
He indicated that he will be boarding a flight to Milwaukee Friday.
Milwaukee’s 12th ranked prospect has started in nine games for the Shuckers this season, accumulating 53 2/3 innings and has allowed 12 earned runs on 45 hits (2.01 ERA).
He became the Southern League’s first four game winner in a Biloxi 8-2 victory against Pensacola April 27, and followed up with two consecutive seven inning starts, but yielded No Decisions.
Wagner has maintained steady control through the progression of the 2015 season, compiling a 38-15 strikeout-walk ratio, and has stated before that he relies heavily on the defense behind him in inducing ground ball outs.
In 401 minor league innings, he has struck out 319 hitters compared to 141 walks.
Milwaukee’s recall comes after the injury by starter Wily Peralta, necessitating the need to place him on the 15-day disabled list, leaving the Brewers without a viable fifth starter.
The Brewers kicked around the idea of starting reliever Michael Blazek, but opted to pitch Mike Fiers on short rest.
Speculation persisted that Milwaukee would call up lanky starter Taylor Jungmann from Triple A Colorado Springs, but the 6-6 native Texan has struggled the majority of the season.
In Jungmann’s first eight appearances, including two in relief, he has allowed 33 earned runs in 38.1 innings, giving up 45 hits and walking 21.
Jungmann made it to the sixth inning in just two of his appearances, including a victory May 1 against Omaha. He followed up with a six inning relief appearance at Memphis, holding the Redbirds scoreless, with six strikeouts and three walks.
Despite early struggles, Jungmann produced his best performances in his last two appearances.
Jungmann endured a tough loss May 23 at Salt Lake, striking out seven and walked one hitter through seven innings, and allowed two earned runs on seven hits.
Tyler Thornburg was another option, but has seen limited success at the Major League level, and has been knocked around in six appearances with the Sky Sox after being demoted from Milwaukee.
Meanwhile, in another development, the Shuckers will play at MGM Park June 6 amid speculation the opening would be delayed for another two months.
The City of Biloxi cited earlier in the week that the stadium would not be ready by the targeted June 6 date, but after intense negotiations with the Shuckers, an agreement was met.
According to WLOX in Biloxi, money was a primary concern, noting an expedition of construction could cost the city an extra $380,000.
In the same report, city officials anticipate economic growth will offset the cost of paying Yates Construction to expedite the process, with the Shuckers and city of Biloxi each pitching in $100,000.
Yates Construction agreed to the cost reduction, according to the report.
Entering the 2015 season, observers would believe the Biloxi Shuckers would wear down in the midst of a 60-day road trip, after MGM Park in downtown Biloxi faced construction delays.
Based on the first 28 games, the players never got the memo, and continue to take their “Road Warrior” status in stride.
Shuckers’ general manager Buck Rogers prepared his players prior to the season, arriving to Arizona a week before opening day, to inform them.
Rogers expects MGM Park to be ready by June 6 when the Shuckers face the Mobile BayBears.
The 6,000 seat MGM Park, which began construction late last year, faced a lengthy process of relocating the team from Huntsville to Biloxi.
Huntsville Stars owner Miles Prentice sold the Stars to Ken Young for $14 million, according to the Huntsville Times, and was later approved by the Southern League.
“This is a collective effort between the players, coaches, staff and clubhouse managers,” Rogers said. “The guys are doing an excellent job of staying ahead of the game.”
Rogers received assistance from the Penske Corporation, who is providing a moving truck for the team as they move from city to city.
Shuckers’ outfielder Michael Reed is fortunate for the truck, indicating that “we got quite a bit of stuff to carry around.”
Outfielder Kyle Wren, who was acquired in an off-season trade with Atlanta, said it all boils down to team chemistry.
“It really has not been as bad people presume it would be, we got a good group of guys that come together, and we are about halfway there,” Wren said. “While we are having fun on the road, we are not using it as an excuse, we will continue to play hard.”
Wren, the Brewers’ 17th ranked prospect on MLB.com, is third in stolen bases with nine thus far and produced a six-game hitting streak early in the season, batting 7 for 25 with a two doubles, two stolen bases and four runs scored.
“I have been treated very well, and the Brewers have been very good to me,” Wren said. “I love the coaching staff and I can’t be any happier.”
“I think it is just the team makeup, I have been on teams before where things did not mesh,” Wren said. “But this team has great chemistry and if you don’t have team chemistry, you won’t win many games.”
Reed, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2011 draft from Leander High School in Texas, has drastically improved, compared to his 2014 season with High A Brevard County of the Florida State League.
The 22-year-old fleet footed outfielder is batting .316 with a .394 OBP in the first 26 games of the season for the Shuckers. He hit .255 with a .396 OBP for the Manatees last year.
Reed acknowledged that this “is a new experience” but cites team chemistry as the driving force behind the early success of the team.
While he enjoys the camaraderie of his teammates, he admits he looks up to two teammates with Major League experience, Taylor Green and Jaye Chapman.
“(Taylor) has been in the big leagues, so I pick his brain a lot, and also Jaye Chapman,” Reed said.
In addition to both outfielders, the Shuckers have two of only three unbeaten pitchers in the Southern League, Hall and Wagner.
Hall, who boasts a 4-0 record and is third with a 1.32 ERA, noted team chemistry has made the trip easier.
“If we didn’t get along like we do it would be tough on the road. But our team is well balanced and everyone has a great time everyday,” said Hall, who was named the Brewers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Month.
Wagner, who has the same record, and is fourth behind Hall with a 1.50 ERA, believes the road trip has led to a more firm bond between teammates.
“It’s been going well, the trip is something to embrace because we are getting to know each other a lot better,” Wagner said.
Wagner relies heavily on the defense behind him for his string of six strong performances on the mound.
The 24-year-old picked by the Brewers in the fourth round of the 2012 draft was the Southern League’s first four-game winner. Wagner has amassed 36 innings with 28 strikeouts and issued just 11 walks. He has held opponents to six earned runs on 27 hits.
“It is about not trying to do too much, and keep my pitch counts low, get some ground balls, and let my defense do the work,” said Wagner, who helped his own cause, belting his first career home run April 27 against Pensacola.
In addition to on-field performances by the players, which includes shortstop and top ranked Brewers prospect Orlando Arcia, Rogers has been impressed with second-year manager Carlos Subero, along with Sandy Guerrero and Chris Hook.
“Our coaching staff is doing a real nice job of keeping things together,” Rogers said.
Arcia, 20, is in the top five in four statistical categories in the Southern League, batting average (3, .358), runs (T1, 18), hits (T2, 34) and On Base Percentage (5, .417).
While the team continues their road trip, the players continue to stress the importance of having fun, relaxing when needed and grasping the moment.
“We just relax and have fun, not take the game so seriously, we play cards or go to the movies on the road to take our mind off the game for awhile,” Wren said.
Rogers jokingly said the team has incurred one roadblock, when they were not allowed to watch the welterweight championship bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao at their former home in Huntsville.
However, according to Reed, the team managed to find ways around obstacle, hitting up downtown bars following the game.
“Given our address (at Joe Davis), the provider would not allow it,” Reed said. “We tried to get it at the stadium, but they would have charged us a ton, but we were able to catch it some place. We all found a way to watch it.”
However, Reed and the rest of the Shuckers acknowledge there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and paid a visit to MGM Park on April 14.
“It was their day off, and they could have stayed in bed if they wanted to, but they wanted to take a stadium tour in the rain,” Rogers said.
Players were able to talk with construction workers about the nooks and crannies of their eventual home and were floored, Rogers said.
“I think it is going to be an awesome stadium, and it looks great, we are all excited,” said Reed, who personally monitors the progress on the Shuckers’ team website.
“It’s in a great location and it is going to look awesome. They are just placing sod on the field either today or tomorrow, and we are about halfway there,” Wren said.
“It should be a great stadium and the atmosphere should be great, and look forward to being there,” Wagner said.
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,”
Seeing the name Michael Reed among Milwaukee’s organizational All-Stars did not come as a shock to Wisconsin Timber Rattler teammate and pitcher Tyler Wagner.
“His numbers showed it,” Wagner said. “Definitely if you were around him as much as I was, he definitely had that consistency.”
Reed produced numerous clutch hitting performances for the Rattlers including a dramatic 12th inning walk-off blast to defeat the Lake County Captains July 13.
“I don’t think about situations. Just put the ball in play,” Reed told Brewers Farm Report December 30. “I hit the ball hard no matter what happens and hope for the best.”
In addition to his walk-off winner, he also drove in the game-tying run in a five-run ninth inning to defeat Beloit 6-5 August 5. Teammate Alfredo Rodriguez scored on a fielding error during the play when he discovered no one covering third base.
Reed was second in the Midwest League with 13 triples and also collected 23 doubles, stole 26 bases and drew 71 walks for a .385 On Base Percentage.
“He is one those guys that definitely gives it 110 percent of the time,” Wagner said. “He can turn doubles into triples with the way he comes out of the batter’s box.”
The outfielder from Leander, Tex. Was part of a stacked Wisconsin consisting of fellow organizational All-Star Victor Roache and former teammate Mitch Haniger, currently of the Brevard County Manatees. Roache and Haniger are among Milwaukee’s top 20 prospects by MLB.com.
Reed’s defensive ability alongside Roache and Tyrone Taylor the majority of the 2013 season gave Wisconsin pitchers a sense of relief.
“Our defense this year was tremendous, I think it gave me a lot more confidence going onto the mound,” Wagner said. “Probably the best outfield I ever had in pro ball.”
In addition, Reed commended Wagner on being the team’s workhorse during the 2013 where he accumulated a team high in innings pitched.
“He throws strikes and everything you need to do on the mound – he did it – and he is a really great pitcher and did a good job,” Reed said, in regards to Wagner’s season.
Reed stated both Roache and Taylor are not just highly rated prospects, but also demonstrate great character.
“They are great guys and I enjoyed playing with them,” Reed said. “They both got the bat and one thing to note is they can make plays in the outfield.”
Furthermore, Reed demonstrated the ability to play all three outfield positions through the duration of his professional career.
“I love center field; however, whatever they need me most at is where I will play,” Reed said. “Right now they need more as a corner guy and that is where I will be at.”
Prior to playing outfield, he had experience as a starting pitcher at Leander High School in Texas and was highly touted by several Major League clubs entering the 2011 draft.
Reed fell to the Brewers in the fifth after scouts projected him to go as high as the second round.
His stock dwindled due to him accepting an athletic scholarship at Ole Miss, but eventually signed with Milwaukee well above the slotted value of $150,000.
Reed agreed after Milwaukee gave him $100,000 to go towards his college education and signed for a “great deal of money.”
Reed open to 2014 destination
Reed indicated he is not worried about his 2014 assignment within the Brewers organization and remains open about his future.
“I’ll play wherever they put me. If they put me in Brevard, it does not matter where I play,” Reed said. “I am fortunate to be given an opportunity to play. I really don’t expect to play anywhere in particular. I am just going to go out and play.”
The outfielder began his career with the Arizona Rookie League Brewers in 2011 where he played 14 games before splitting time between three different levels in 2012 in Helena, Brevard County and Huntsville.
Brevard County could be a promising promotion for Reed after exhibiting some success in limited action for the team in 2012.
Reed batted 9-for-32 (.281) with five runs scored, three stolen bases and accrued a .425 OBP for the Manatees.
It all boils down to tonight and the odds are stacked against the defending Midwest League Champion Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
With Wild Card leader Clinton needing either a win versus Peoria or a Rattler loss, Wisconsin will be knocked out of the playoffs. The LumberKings’ magic number is at two with four games remaining – and own the tie breaker against the Brewers’ Single A affiliate.
But the Rattlers embarked on quite the journey after a dismal first half of the season and rebounded with a solid second half thanks to contributions from multiple players.
Wisconsin did not have one particular player carrying the load down the stretch which included a couple walk-off wins courtesy of catalyst Michael Reed (third in Midwest League with 11 triples) and a 19-game hitting streak from catcher Parker Berberet.
After a slow start to the season, infielder Alfredo Rodriguez has caught fire with a 16-game hitting streak from July 24-August 14 batting .328 with an On Base Percentage of .380.
Rodriguez later started a nine-game hitting streak three games later where he drove in seven runs and struck out four times through the life of the streak.
In addition, Rodriguez is batting .322 in the month of August and accrued a .390 On Base Percentage.
Right-hander Rodolfo Fernandez, 23, spent the entire season pitching out of the bullpen until he was given his first career start August 25 and responded with a six inning gem striking out five and allowing one earned run.
Prior to Fernandez’s start, he produced five straight scoreless outings spanning 16 innings along with 14 strikeouts and a mere two walks.
Fernandez is pitching his first season in the United States after defecting from his native Cuba in June 2012.
Starters Tyler Wagner and Preston Gainey have emerged as pitchers worth a look following strings of productive outings down the stretch.
Wagner, 22, captured his team-leading tenth victory August 26 where he struck out seven and allowed two earned runs through seven innings of work.
D’Vontrey Richardson blasted his first home run of the season August 28 and snaps a string of more than two years without a home run.
Richardson’s last home run was May 21, 2011. The outfielder sat out the entire 2012 season deciding whether to utilize his degree at Florida State University and quit baseball altogether but eventually had a change of heart.
The Florida State League team reassigned Tyler Cravy to Arizona League Brewers to squeeze out another outing from former top 20 prospect Cody Scarpetta.
Since Brevard County’s season concludes Sunday – and the team out of playoff contention – Brewers’ officials might be taking one last look at him before deciding his long-term future with the organization.
Scarpetta, 25, has been hampered with injuries including a lost 2012 season and multiple roadblocks on the road to recovery. He has been part of the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization since 2007.
Closer Tommy Toledo successfully converted his last four save opportunities for the Manatees and has allowed two earned runs in the stretch of ten appearances (14 innings).
Toledo’s 19 total saves ties him for second in the Florida State League with St. Lucie’s T.J. Chism.
It has been a frustrating journey for Milwaukee’s 2009 first-round selection Eric Arnett after struggling through his entire minor league career.
But following his reassignment to Brevard County he has produced five productive relief appearances allowing one earned run through 8.2 innings.
Despite losing the entire 2012 season due to a fractured ankle, teenager Orlando Arcia has been able to hold his own among older players in the Midwest League.
The Venezuelan-born shortstop is progressing in the League after making a major jump from the Dominican Summer League in 2011 straight to Single A.
In the span of a month the 19-year-old produced a seven game hitting streak and presently sits at a five-game streak.
Arcia accumulated 20 runs scored and struck out just nine times in 94 at bats for the Brewers’ Single A affiliate.
In addition, he is batting .297 with an On Base Percentage of .353 since July 20 along with six multi-hit games.
The 165 pound shortstop faced a different situation on August 15 when the Chiefs intentionally walked him twice in a 3-for-5 game where he scored twice.
Arcia belted two of his four home runs in the last four games with scouts believing the shortstop will develop power when he fills up.
Within the last 15 games where he produced the seven- and five-game hitting streaks, he is batting .322 with 13 runs scored and three stolen bases.
Arcia might be getting comfortable on the basepaths after suffering two injuries, including the season-ending injury he sustained in 2012 when he slid into second base. He also had an injury scare earlier in the season when he sprained the same ankle after a play at the plate.
The shortstop has took the Brewers’ organization by storm after the team signed him as a 16-year-old undrafted free agent and rattled off an impressive debut with the Dominican Summer League in 2011.
In his inaugural season, the eventual 17-year-old stole 13 bases and homered six times in 64 games for the DSL Brewers and collected 26 doubles.
Rattler Manager Matt Erickson is batting Arcia ninth for the majority of the season to minimize pressure on him and allow him time to grow.
Wagner the Wisconsin workhorse
If there is a more deceiving statistic in baseball, it would be the win column for starting pitchers – and Wisconsin’s Tyler Wagner has done more than what his record presents.
The 22-year-old fourth round selection from Utah has been the Rattlers’ workhorse the entire season racking up a team-leading 130.2 innings with a 3.24 earned run average – but has a 9-8 record to show for it.
Wagner is tabulating a 2.89 earned run average in his last nine appearances but received four No Decisions and three wins, including an eight strikeout performance July 13 against Lake County.
The right-hander racked up a career high ten strikeouts and allowed no runs in seven innings May 8 against Clinton.
Reed does it again
Outfielder Michael Reed is the epitome of clutch performances for the Rattlers after carrying the team to another walk-off win August 15.
Reed made Peoria pay for intentionally walking Arcia when two batters later, the speedy outfielder hit a game winning two-out single.
The 20-year-old from Texas has produced double digits in nearly every offensive category including 11 triples, third in the Midwest League.
In addition, he has compiled a .391 On Base Percentage and stolen 23 bases and collected 22 doubles.
Taylor rebounds from injury
Reed’s outfield mate Tyrone Taylor is bouncing back from an injury requiring him a stint on the seven-day disabled list by hitting safely in seven of his nine games since returning August 8.
Taylor is batting .293 in the last nine games including four multi-hit games, four doubles, six runs batted in and two stolen bases.
Prior to his placement on the disabled list, it is believed he attempted to play through the hip injury indicated by his decline at the plate.
The outfielder’s average dropped more than 30 points in the course of a month before Wisconsin officially shut him down for a week.