Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – BONUS ARTICLE
As happened last year, the Milwaukee Brewers only recently announced the rest of their Spring Training jersey number updates for 2015. There are six players to catch up on who missed their own dates as a result.
The reason for this bonus article is that, as mentioned above, these players were announced after the day on which they would have otherwise had their individual article written and posted.
As in 2014, these won’t be in-depth profiles of these players but I wanted to make sure you knew a little something about them before camp opens and you see their names popping up in box scores.
Tyler Jay Cravy, 25, is a 6’3″ right-handed pitcher from California who the Brewers drafted out of Napa Valley College in the 17th round of the 2009 draft. He’s been a 40-man roster consideration each of the last couple of years, especially the most recent one where Cravy posted a combined 1.64 ERA in 17 games (15 starts) for three different spots in the Brewers system. In 82.1 innings, Cravy struck out 76 batters, walking just 20.
It may not have done the trick to get him on someone’s Rule 5 Draft board, but it was enough to garner him an invitation to big league camp this year. He’s likely to break camp with the new Class-AAA affiliate Colorado Springs, and it would seem as though he’s ticketed for their rotation after 2014. Cravy was primarily a bullpen arm for the three years prior.
In contrast to how long it’s taken Cravy to reach big league camp, Jeffrey Hobbs Johnson will join the big leaguers in what is just his second spring training. Drafted in the 14th round out of North Carolina, the 23-year-old Rocky Mount native has performed very well as a professional. He had limited reps after signing in 2013 (11 games, no starts) between Helena (R) and Wisconsin (A) but posted very good numbers. Last year in his first full professional season, Johnson compiled a 12-8 record in 25 games (24 starts). He pitched to a 2.93 ERA in 147.1 innings for Class-A Advanced Brevard County.
At 5’11”, the left-handed Johnson being a starter is something in which the Brewers are not exactly flush throughout their minor league system. The invite to big league camp should be viewed as the honor it is, a reward for a great season, but don’t take it to mean that Johnson has any shot at breaking camp on the 25-man roster. He’s still got a ways to go, especially when considering the standard Brewers development plan.
Another smaller pitcher than the Brewers have targeted in recent years, Taylor G. Williams at 5’11” still has managed to turn heads in the organization and out. He’s got a quality profile and pitch arsenal, and has been putting things together nicely to this point in his young pro career. 2014 saw Williams post a combined 2.72 ERA between Class-A Wisconsin and Class-A Advanced Brevard County. He appeared in 27 games, making 17 starts. Williams pitched to a FIP and SIERA both until 3.00 as well, showing that the peripherals are supportive of his strong season as opposed to being red flags of regression. Williams kept his WHIP at 1.02 on the year as well, along with striking out 137 hitters in 132.1 innings pitched.
At times, shorter pitchers have trouble keeping the ball down effectively. While it’s hardly an exact illustration of his ability, Williams allowed just eight home runs all of last year. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.89 is high quality as well.
The bottom line is that Williams is jumping up Top Prospects lists around the industry. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on over the next year or two. He could force his way onto the 40-man roster by way of call up before he needs its protection.
Last year in this same “Bonus” article, I told you that Cameron Garfield is not simply “organizational catcher guy” who comes to big league camp for a couple of weeks while extra pitchers are in camp too.
Garfield, now 23, played in 95 games a year after appearing in 109. He repeated Class-A Advanced Brevard County and did see his offensive numbers slip a bit year over year. It can’t ever be forgotten that the Gulf Coast League is tough on hitters though Garfield certainly has room to grow at the plate as he continues to improve behind it.
A second round draft pick in 2009, Garfield is a bit behind where he’d normally be because of some significant injuries early in his professional career. But he is a guy to which the Brewers will give plenty of opportunities to realize his potential. Catching is always a premium.
Another catcher who repeats in this bonus column all the way down to his uniform numbers, Adam Robert Weisenburger continues to carry the reputation as a very good receiver. Weisenburger caught most of 2014 as Double-A Huntsville before moving up to Triple-A in August after their top backstop (Matt Pagnozzi, now with the Diamondbacks) got a September call up.
Weisenburger posted offensive numbers roughly in line with where you’d hope a quality receiver/second catcher could consistently put up. As a 34th round draft pick, if he’s able to get there one day, that would be a big win for the Brewers development staff.
The only new-to-the-organization guy in this column, Matthew Eugene Long is a primary outfielder who has played some second base as well. Drafted by the Angels in the 30th round back in 2009, the California native has played as high as Class-AAA each of the last three seasons. His career Triple-A slash line is .279/.358/.442 over 1102 plate appearances across 262 games.
Long has played the majority of his games in the outfield the last two seasons, after playing mostly at second base in 2012. It’s been a return to familiar ground for Long who spent all of his time in the outfield from 2009-2011. Long even found a handful of games at the hot corner last year at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Versatility is the key for many minor leaguers, and if Long is to one day make his major league debut, being able to fill in at multiple positions is one way he might be able to get there. For now, he looks ticketed to the thin aired outfield in Colorado Springs to start the season.
You can follow all of the players profiled in this article on Twitter.
- #75 – Tyler Cravy: @TylerJayCravy
- #74 – Hobbs Johnson: @hojo31
- #73 – Taylor Williams: @twillyflash
- #72 – Cameron Garfield: @CAMgGARFIELD
- #71 – Adam Weisenburger: @aweisenburger
- #70 – Matt Long: @MattELong
So there you have it. We’re caught up to today with #68 Ariel Peña coming later.