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September Drawing Nigh

HunterMorris

A team in the Major Leagues plays for five months of every season with a 25-man limit (26 on days with double-headers) to their roster size. The vast majority of the games played are done so with the same relative construction to the available players.

Then September shows up.

The phrasing is “roster expansion” but what is basically means is that you can have as many of your 40-man Roster up in the bigs for the final month of the regular season. Nobody does that, mind you, but you can.

The Brewers’ collective philosophy is one of not calling players up for the sake of calling them up. Brewers field manager Ron Roenicke prefers to have guys around who he’s confident in using. He is on record as saying that having too many guys around can be a hindrance as it throws off routine. One example he’s mentioned in the past is that there are only so many reps during batting practice to go around and he needs to keep his season-long players ready. And while general manager Doug Melvin prefers the same, he spoke openly over the winter about one player he feels he should have called up last September. More on that later.

When asked last week about the upcoming expanded rosters, Roenicke was expectedly non-committal. He said that they haven’t even thought about that yet because of how far away they really still were.

Well, despite what Roenicke said in a random media availability session, I guarantee you that there are people thinking about it. Many times teams will call up a third catcher, an extra bullpen arm or two, and maybe a bench player with a specific skill be that a base running burner or a power-hitting pinch hitter. And while the announcements will probably come after the game on August 31st in San Francisco, Melvin, assistant GM Gord Ash, and their staff are certainly considering who could be on their short list.

As you may have figured out by now, I’ve been thinking about it too. I was asked about it a few days ago during one of my twice weekly radio segments on The Mike Heller Show*.

I think that there are three virtual locks to come up on September 1 (or as soon as Nashville’s season ends), along with one who will come up when deemed healthy. I’ll also give you another couple of names so that you can’t be shocked if they make September cameos.

The locks are Logan Schafer, Rob Wooten, and Hunter Morris. Here’s why on each.

Logan Schafer will come back up because he offers a decent pinch-running option, is a top notch defensive replacement for late in games, and is currently hitting the ball well again now that he’s been getting consistent playing time with Triple-A Nashville following his demotion as a result of the Gerardo Parra acquisition. Schafer’s best asset is the aforementioned defense though. Imagine a late game defensive alignment of Schafer, Carlos Gomez, and Parra from left to right. Would anything hit in the air to the outfield get down to the grass?

Rob Wooten would return because at least one extra bullpen arm helps keeps all the others fresh and Wooten is a guy who Roenicke trusts with late inning work. Someone else will also go to the bullpen (whomever vacates a rotation spot when Matt Garza is finally ready to return), so you probably don’t need a second bullpen call up, for what it’s worth.

As for Hunter Morris, he’s the “more on this later” from up the page. Melvin feels he made a mistake in not calling up the 2012 organizational player of the year when rosters expanded in 2013. Melvin felt in hindsight that the experience would have benefitted Morris. For his part, despite missing a significant chunk of time due to injury, Morris is hitting pretty well in a little over 300 at-bats so far in 2014. Morris deserves the experience and since he’ll likely be back in the mix for the first base job in Maryvale in 2015, it certainly wouldn’t hurt him to get a taste of the big league way of doing things.

I think Wei-Chung Wang might be back once he’s deemed healthy, if for no other reason than that he put in quite a bit of time in 2014 and certainly won’t suffer from having a bit more time around the big leaguers. He wasn’t pitching much before his injury so having him around shouldn’t adversely affect much in terms of making sure everyone gets enough innings to stay sharp. Jeff Bianchi could also return at some point. For use in double-switches and straight up defensive substitutions, it never hurts to have another capable utility defender active.

The other guys I think you should at least be aware of are Alfredo Figaro (he of the upper-90s fastball), and Jason Rogers (in case Melvin decides to not only fix his mistake with Morris, but not make the same potential mistake with Rogers).

Those are my thoughts. Let’s hear yours. Respond in the comments.

Follow me on Twitter for Brewers news, analysis and commentary: @BrewerNation

* – You can hear The Mike Heller Show on AM radio in the Milwaukee (The Big 920), Madison (The Big 1070) and Eau Claire (Sports Radio 1400) markets from 2pm-6pm CT. My segments are usually on 2:30pm CT on Mondays and Fridays.

Happy International Prospect Signing Day

Happy 2nd of July!

(You’re a couple of days early — aren’t you?)

How about Happy International Signing Day!

(Happy what now?)

Okay, let me explain.

I know that for many fans of just the Milwaukee Brewers, July 2nd hasn’t carried a whole ton of meaning until recently, and only recently if you’ve followed the organization’s renewed efforts to identify and sign international (read: latin american) talent. That renewed effort coinciding with the opening of their academy in the Dominican Republic, in a partnership with former Brewer closer Salomon Torres.

The Brewers have signed some players but their first real splashes came last July 2nd when they inked a couple of guys to team record Latin American signing bonuses. Those kids, Dominicans Franly Mallen and Nicolas Pierre then each just 16 years old, were ranked 22nd and 29th respectively on MLB.com’s list of top international prospects. They were signed to contracts worth $800,000 apiece, and the Brewers were seen as players again in the region.

Well, a report all the way back in February from Scout.com’s Kiley McDaniel had the Brewers tied to an even bigger target in Dominican shortstop Gilbert Lara, who he has said is arguably the top international prospect this year.

(Here’s a link to the February column from McDaniel: http://sbb.scout.com/2/1373523.html)

He’s ranked 4th on MLB.com’s international prospects list and is said to have a physically mature body, lending itself to safer projectability. Regardless, he was reported at the time to be a lock to blow the $800,000 franchise record out of the water. In fact, it was seen that Lara could quite easily get $3,000,000 and probably would get a bit more.

While that’s great news for the Brewers, the unfortunate side effect is that since a franchise cannot officially have even a verbal agreement in place prior to July 2nd, the leaked information could put the team at risk of at least having another franchise swoop in to offer more, or at worst costing the organization some sanctions.

While it luckily appears that both of the situations have been avoided because multiple outlets (including ESPN’s Enrique Rojas and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez) reported that Lara has indeed formally agreed to and subsequently signed a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, something that appears inevitable for now is the Brewers soaring past their “soft cap” for international signings. That number for 2014 is just $2,611800 which would mean Lara alone would already put the Brewers into the realm of financial penalty.

The financial penalties break down thusly (as borrowed from Jesse Sanchez’s MLBlogs.com blog):

  • Teams that exceed the pools by 10 to 15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.
  • In the most severe penalty, teams that exceed the pool by 15 percent or more are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods in addition to paying a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.
  • Teams that exceed the pools by 0 to 5 percent have to pay 100 percent tax and teams that exceed the pools by 5 to 10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.

For the record, if Lara got the $3.2 million he was reportedly set to sign for today, that puts the Brewers more than 15% over their pool allotment. The Brewers could possibly alleviate some of that by trading for pool space, but that remains to be seen. For now, that’s a worry for 2015.

For the rest of 2014, Lara can be expected to report to the Brewers Academy in San Pedro de Macoris, but per rule he won’t be eligible to play in Dominican Summer League games until next year. Lara is a high-ceiling kid, one whose abilities on the baseball diamond have gained significant attention for a reason. He’s also still just 16 years old and it needs to be understood that even in a great string of events and success, he wouldn’t be playing on United States’ soil until 2016 at the earliest. Still, should he realize the potential that is worth more than $3 million of signing bonus and contract, it will be an investment worth its weight in time and expense.

Final All-Star Updates, Starters Revealed Sunday

I’m so proud of you, fellow Brewers fans, and any who have voted with their heads and picked Brewers as well.

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Brewers Move Up In the Latest All-Star Balloting Update

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You’re not seeing things. Aramis Ramirez has taken over the top spot in the  latest National League All-Star balloting update provided by Major League Baseball. Carlos Gomez has also moved back into starting position and Jonathan Lucroy has passed Buster Posey for second place among NL backstops!

Oh, and how about Jean Segura in second among shortstops and Mark Reynolds and Rickie Weeks both getting on the board at their respective positions in 4th place?

Keep on Voting Brewers!!!

http://brewers.com/vote

Latest NL All-Star Leaderboard

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As you can see, with in-stadium voting over at Miller Park, we’ve got some internet clicking to do to get our guys back into position.

http://mlb.com/vote

Tentative Helena Brewers Roster

The short-season Rookie ball affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Helena Brewers, sent me an advanced copy of their tentative roster.

They admit that more names will be added before Opening Day (likely as additional signings from the 2014 draft are announced) but these are who they know.

PITCHERS (14)

CURTIS, Luke* – RHP
DEETER, Ryan – RHP
GHELFI, Drew – RHP
HIRSCH, Zach* – LHP
HISSA, Donnie* – RHP
LINEHAN, Tyler – LHP
MOORE, Brandon – RHP
ORTEGA, Jorge – RHP
ORTEGA, Luis – LHP
RINCON, Junior – RHP
THOMPSON, Chad – RHP
UHEN, Josh – RHP
WILLIAMS, Devin – RHP
WOODRUFF, Brandon* – RHP

CATCHERS (3)

CLEARY, Jack
McCALL, Greg*
MEJIA, Natanael

INFIELDERS (5)

AVILES, Luis – SS/3B
DeMUTH, Dustin* – 3B
MUNOZ, Gregory – SS/2B
NEUHAUS, Tucker – 3B/SS
SHARKEY, Alan – 1B

OUTFIELDERS (6)

DIAZ, Brandon
HINOJOSA, Dionis
MEYER, Mitch*
RIVERA, Edgardo
RUBIO, Elvis
WILLIAMS, Eric


* denotes 2014 draft pick

2014 NL All-Star Balloting Update 3

In the third update of National League voting totals for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game, Carlos Gomez has jumped two positions to move into third place among NL outfielders in the league’s tightest race with 1,192,174 votes. He is less than 67,000 votes behind Giancarlo Stanton (1,259,047) for second place. Yasiel Puig currently leads all NL outfielders with 1,472,717 votes.          
                                                          
Gomez ranks among the National League leaders in a number of offensive categories, including slugging percentage (4th, .554), total bases (4th, 128), extra-base hits (T-4th, 31), runs (T-5th, 42), doubles (T-5th, 17), batting average (7th, .307), home runs (T-8th, 12) and stolen bases (T-10th, 11).  He is one of three players in the majors with at least 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases this season, joining Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon and Minnesota’s Brian Dozier.

Ryan Braun, one of 10 National League players with more than one million votes, is sixth among outfielders with 1,058,680 votes in the tightly-contested outfield race. Jonathan Lucroy remains third among National League catchers with 771,313 votes, trailing the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina and the Giants’ Buster Posey. Lucroy is among NL leaders in multi-hit games (T-1st, 24), doubles (T-2nd, 23), batting average (3rd, .335), hits (4th, 75), on-base percentage (6th, .398) and slugging percentage (10th, .500). 

Jean Segura (567,481 votes) ranks third at shortstop, Aramis Ramirez is now fourth among NL third basemen (615,597 votes) and Khris Davis (459,771 votes) moved up a spot to 13th in the outfield.

Balloting at Miller Park continues through this Sunday, June 15, comprising 23 home dates. Fans can vote for the Major League All-Stars online at Brewers.com through Thursday, July 3 at 10:59pm CT.
 
Brewers fans have the well-earned reputation for filling the ballot boxes with All-Star votes for Milwaukee Brewers players year in and year out. With at least one Brewers player elected to start in five of the last seven All-Star Games since 2007, Milwaukee fans demonstrated that it doesn’t take the largest market to be heard as they voted for their favorite Brewers in almost unheard of numbers.
 
This season, eight Brewers players are featured on the ballot for the 85th Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be held on Tuesday, July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis. Brewers fans will again have the opportunity to show their overwhelming fan support by helping decide which players will be named to the Midsummer Classic through the 2014 MLB In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program and the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot.
 
Brewers players on this year’s All-Star ballot include C Jonathan Lucroy, 1B Mark Reynolds, 2B Rickie Weeks, 3B Aramis Ramirez, SS Jean Segura, OF Ryan Braun, OF Carlos Gomez and OF Khris Davis. 

At Brewers.com, all fans voting 21 or more times for their favorite Brewers will be entered into a drawing to win a prize package that includes: four Field Box tickets to a mutually agreed-upon game, an opportunity to go down Bernie’s slide (restrictions apply), an opportunity to watch batting practice that day from the field and a meet and greet with five-time All-Star Ryan Braun. There is a maximum of 25 votes per email address. More information and rules may be found at Brewers.com. Additionally, fans voting online will be eligible to purchase Field Outfield and Club Outfield seats for select Brewers games at a savings of up to 50% (details available after voting at Brewers.com).
 
Those visiting Miller Park are encouraged to vote early and often via paper ballot at the All-Star Polling District, set up during Brewers home games along the first base concourse. In-park balloting at Miller Park continues through Sunday, June 15, comprising 23 home dates. The Vote Brewers! campaign features event staff decked out at home games in promotional t-shirts, and signage along the Miller Park fascia and behind the plate. In addition, media partners FOX Sports Wisconsin and Newsradio 620 WTMJ will be promoting the initiative on broadcasts, and the World Famous Klement’s Racing Sausages will help distribute voting information around the city. There will also be voting parties staged during the balloting period.
 
With every 10 ballots turned in to the All-Star Polling District, fans will receive one raffle ticket that will enter them in a drawing for the opportunity to win a collector’s item daily, ranging from game-used memorabilia to player autographs. A drawing will be held during every home game through June 15 and the winning ticket will be announced during the game. Rules will be available at the Polling District.
 
Last season, Gomez and Segura represented the Brewers at the Midsummer Classic. Ryan Braun narrowly missed being elected a starter for the 2012 MLB All-Star Game after finishing fourth in voting among National League outfielders to Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers by just over 100,000 votes. Braun was later named a starter to replace the injured Kemp.
 
In 2011, Braun led National League outfielders in voting for the fourth straight season and led all NL players in voting for the first time (5,928,004). He is the only Brewers player to ever be elected to start in four consecutive All-Star Games (did not play in 2011 due to injury). Rickie Weeks was selected to his first All-Star Game as the NL’s starting second baseman and Prince Fielder started and made his third All-Star appearance in 2011. In 2010, Braun and Corey Hart started for the Brewers (Hart was named as a starter after an injury to Atlanta’s Jason Heyward).
 
In 2009, Braun and Fielder joined Trevor Hoffman as All-Stars. In addition to Braun in 2008, Hart was named that year to the National League All-Star team via the Monster All-Star Final Vote. In 2007, Fielder received the second-most votes in the National League en route to his first career All-Star team, becoming the first Brewers player to be voted to the All-Star Game since Paul Molitor was selected at third base in 1988. A complete list of All-Stars in franchise history can be found on page 285 of the 2014 Brewers media guide.
 
Both the National League and American League teams will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers.

Official Release: Brewers Select Prep Left-Hander in First Round

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The Milwaukee Brewers selected…

LHP Kodi Medeiros from Waiakea (HI) High School in the first round (12th overall) of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft tonight.
 
Medeiros, a native of Hilo, Hawaii, went 7-1 with a 0.97 ERA in eight games as a senior at Waiakea (HI) High School.  He struck out 83 batters compared to 17 walks and allowed just 14 hits in 43.1 innings pitched this past season.  As a sophomore, Medeiros helped lead the Waiakea Warriors to their first-ever state championship.
 
The 6-foot-2, 195 pound left-handed pitcher was selected for the Perfect Game All-American Classic.  Medeiros, 18, has a commitment to Pepperdine University.
 
The Brewers will have two more selections tonight, including pick #41 (Competitive Balance Round A) and #50 (second round).  Milwaukee is one of five teams that have three picks in the top 50 overall selections. 
 
LHP Kodi Medeiros
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
School: Waiakea (HI) High School
Bats: Left                     Throws: Left
Height: 6-2                   Weight: 195
Born: May 25, 1996
Commitment: Pepperdine University

Meet Hank This Week at Miller Park

PHOTO SESSION TO MARK FIRST PUBLIC AVAILABILITY AT MILLER PARK SINCE MARCH

$4 beer and nachos, $1 hot dogs and sodas, half-price tickets in many areas…and now, an appearance by Hank, the Ballpark Pup, combine for one of the top values of the year at Miller Park as the Brewers face the Pirates tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday at Miller Park.

Hank has quietly appeared at several games this year, but his availability to fans at Miller Park was limited to a single event at The Team Store by Majestic in late March.

Hank’s return to the spotlight is scheduled for this Wednesday during the 5th inning of the Brewers vs. Pirates game. For one inning, he will appear on the Field Level Concourse in the right field corner. Fans are welcome to visit and take photos of Milwaukee’s famous four-legger as he lounges in and around the recently-debuted “Hank House.”

Fans will have an opportunity to make a voluntary donation to the Wisconsin Humane Society during Hank’s appearance.

The entire series will feature “Spring Madness (414),” with 50% off select tickets, $4 domestic draft, 16-ounce beers, $1 hot dogs and small Pepsi products, and $4 nachos.

For more information, please visit brewers.com/madness or call 414-902-4000.

Carlos Gomez Robs Joey Votto…Again

As he did five times last season (though only once to Joey Votto), Carlos Gomez kicked off May with a signature home run theft!

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