Results tagged ‘ BBtJN ’

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #64 Shane Peterson

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We’ve finally made it! Pitchers and Catchers report this month!! This is a wonderful thing!

As timing would have it, I’m not profiling a pitcher or a catcher. Then again, even though P&C marks my start to spring, the rest of the team does eventually show up. And that includes today’s subject, who will wear #64 on his back in camp…

Shane Peterson.

MLB: Oakland Athletics-Photo Day

Shane Aaron Peterson is a 6’0″, 210 lb outfielder and first baseman who comes to the Brewers organization this year as a waiver claim from the Oakland A’s by way of the Chicago Cubs. See, the Cubs claimed Peterson from the A’s on December 19th but almost immediately waived him when they needed the 40-man spot for some free agent signing. The Brewers, who later admitted to having put in a claim on Peterson when the A’s waived him in the first place, won the claim this time from the Cubs.

Peterson, who will be 27 by the time camp opens, is a left-handed batter who is capable of playing all three defensive outfield positions as well as moonlighting at first base. Peterson has logged 610 games in the outfield in his seven seasons as a farmhand with an additional 138 games at first base. He even pitched in one game, taking the loss after allowing a solo home run. He did record an out though, so that’s something. Seriously though, he’s only appeared in two MLB games, both at first base and both for the Athletics, but don’t get it twisted. He’s an outfielder by trade.

At the plate, Peterson is no slouch. His career minor league slash line is .294/.383/.452 which illustrates that he has occasional pop but certainly shouldn’t be classified as a power hitter. Peterson’s 2014 line was close to his career numbers with a .308/.381/.460 slash line.

Peterson may have been squeezed out in Oakland this off-season, but he’s got a legitimate shot at making the 25-man roster when camp breaks in early April. His handedness, hitting ability, but most importantly his defensive versatility give him plusses over incumbent 5th outfielder Logan Schafer. Schafer is a better pure defender, but one who hasn’t yet figured out his best approach at coming off the bench and staying ready in that role.

This is a true position battle, in my opinion, one that could shape the bench in the early part of the year. Peterson and Schafer each have one minor league option remaining, so that’s not necessarily a concern either way.

If he should make the 25-man roster, I’d guess he’d choose a lower number in Milwaukee, but for February and March, watch for Peterson’s #64 and Schafer’s #7 to be compared to each other early and often.

Catch up on the countdown!

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #65 Yadiel Rivera

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On November 20 of last year, a deadline came on the MLB calendar. Which Rule 5 eligible players would be added to their franchise’s 40-man rosters, thereby protecting them from being plucked in said Rule 5 Draft.

Sometimes guys get added out of left field, metaphorically speaking, while other players are shoo-ins.

Today’s subject for Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers is one of the latter. Plus defense, emergence at the plate, and what appears from far away to be a big league makeup equated to a 40-man spot for…

Yadiel Rivera.

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A native of Puerto Rico, Yadiel Rivera was drafted by the Brewers as an 18-year-old out of Manuela Toro High School in Caguas. He has excelled defensively throughout his professional career, with some even saying that his defense is Major League ready (and has been for over a year). Unfortunately, there’s precious little room for defense-only players in the big leagues these days. You need to provide something with the bat in most cases just to be a bench player.

Rivera came over to the states right away after being drafted and only hit .209  in the Arizona rookie league. And despite his 6’2″ frame, he’s still listed at just 175 pounds. He can add strength if he chooses, but staying lean and smooth seems to be the focus for the young shortstop, at least for now. Rivera has never slugged even .400 for an entire season, but the fact that he did so (.410) in his 183 at-bats at Class-AA Huntsville to finish the 2014 season is nice to see.

Rivera will likely start 2015 back at the Double-A level, though with a new fan base and in a new city as the Brewers affiliate is moving operations from Huntsville, Alabama to the gulf coast in Biloxi, Mississippi. Fortunately, the diamond is still 90 square feet so all the throws remain the same. And if his bat continues to mature from the .258/.309/.374 combined line Rivera posted in 2014 between Double-A and High-A, Rivera could cement his place in the organization with an eye on the future.

That said, there’s a top prospect named Orlando Arcia nipping at his heels. They can’t both play shortstop for the Brewers at the end of the day. That could be why Rivera played 28 games at second base for Class-A Advanced Brevard County last year before his promotion.

Keep an eye on Rivera’s progress, but on that of Arcia as well as the developmental staff makes decisions on who plays where and for whom.

Catch up on the countdown!

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #66 Juan Centeno

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On a day when the Brewers signed a veteran left-handed relief pitcher to balance their bullpen, we take a look at someone who will likely catch some of his Spring Training work this year. He is a newcomer to the Brewers organization, claimed this winter off of waivers from the New York Mets…

Juan Centeno.

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Juan C. Centeno is 25 years old, Puerto Rican (from Arecibo), and the first minor league 40-man rostered catcher that the team has carried in a few years outside of September. As mentioned the Brewers were awarded the waiver claims from the Mets this off-season, which came on October 31.

Originally drafted in the 32nd round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft by the Mets, Centeno was a September call up for New York each of the last two seasons. His Major League debut came on September 18, 2013. He also had a stint with the parent club in May of 2014 when he made six starts over two weeks.

Never one to display any kind of power, in eight minor league seasons Centeno has combined for three (3) home runs. His career minor league slash line is .277/.329/.336 with only 178 strikeouts and just 93 walks in 1423 plate appearances. To say that he tends to swing at the first pitch he likes feels like an understatement. To his credit, Centeno has improved offensively as he’s matured. He hit just .183 in rookie ball over a season and a half (ages 17 & 18, for the record) but as a 24-year-old at Triple-A Las Vegas posted a .291 batting average with an acceptable .343 on-base percentage.

All that said, Centeno’s arm behind the plate has been his calling card as a minor leaguer. Everything I find about his online touts his throwing arm and defensive skills. His career minor league caught stealing percentage is 40%. That’s a quality number.

The Brewers haven’t carried a legitimate 40-man-worthy third catcher in some time, but given the scouting reports and the digital reputation, it’s easy to see why they felt Centeno was worth the claim and spot he’s currently holding.

Barring injury, Centeno should be the starting catcher at Colorado Springs once camp breaks. It’ll be nice to have a plus defender with at least some bat-to-ball skills at the ready should his services be required in Milwaukee. And at just 25, he could find himself in position to take over for the backup job in Milwaukee one day. After all, arbitration can be a dangerous thing for a guy like Martin Maldonado (who is cost-controlled through 2016, for the record). Age, skills (did I mention he bats lefty?), and availability could dictate what comes down the road. Centeno, if I’m doing my math correctly, should have two options remaining. One will be used in each of the next two seasons, but maybe there will be a job ready for him in 2017…?

For 2015, however, it’ll be some Colorado Springs cooking with an eye on September 1.

Catch up on the countdown!

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #67 Nevin Ashley

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Today is Thursday, January 29, 2015. It’s almost February, that wonderfully depressing month to everyone except for baseball fans. Football is over, pro basketball hasn’t yet hit its true playoff stride and nobody is dancing yet in college.

But alas we aren’t there quite yet.

Instead, here on January 29, we sit 67 days away from Brewers Opening Day on April 6 at Miller Park. In continuing my countdown series, it’s time to take a look at someone brand new to the organization…

Nevin Ashley.

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Nevin Robert Ashley is a 6’1″, 215 lb catcher from Indiana by way of Indiana State University. Originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Early scouting reports said that Ashley is an average hitter though good defender. He was named as the “Best Defensive Catcher” in Tampa Bay’s system on more than one occasion by Baseball America.

The Brewers have long valued defense (receiving/throwing/game-management) in their would-be back up catchers. Guys like Adam Weisenburger are defense first, and it’s been well-covered just how good behind the plate current MLB-level backstop Martin Maldonado is. Even the offensively plus Jonathan Lucroy is a top notch receiver, though his throwing arm is a hole in his game.

With Ashley, the Brewers get another in a recent spate of MiLB free agents who sign on to catch at a Brewers’ affiliate in hopes of getting a September call-up and making something out of their opportunity. Matt Treanor, Blake Lalli, Lucas May, etc.

Ashley has been doing the same over the past couple of seasons. Following seven professional seasons with Tampa Bay, the now 30-year-old Ashley spent 2013 with Cincinnati’s top affiliate in Durham and was in Triple-A again all season but with the Pirates’ affiliate in 2014.

Still a defensive-minded backstop, Ashley owns a career .235/.322/.365 slash line in 224 games at the Triple-A level. He hasn’t slugged over .379 since his 2007 A-ball campaign in the Sally League with the Columbus Catfish. Ironically, Ashley’s team bested Milwaukee’s Class-A affiliate (the West Virginia Power) in that league’s playoff championship in 2007.

Ashley is behind, of course, Lucroy and Maldonado organizationally but with fellow newcomer (and tomorrow’s profile subject) Juan Centeno likely starting at Class-AAA Colorado Springs this year, Ashley could either back him up or possibly start in Biloxi dependent on what the club wants to do with a guy like Weisenburger.

At this point, Ashley is a guy to be aware of in spring. For the casual fan, that’s probably enough.

You can follow Nevin Ashley on Twitter: @nevin_ashley

Catch up on the countdown!

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #68 Ariel Peña

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After having to write my bonus column today, you’ll forgive me if I end up cutting this one a bit shorter than I otherwise would.

That said, time is of the essence so let’s get right to the man who dons number 68…

Ariel Peña.

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Ariel Peña was the third piece of the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Dodgers. A big (6’3″, 240 lb) right-hander from the Dominican Republic, Peña carried with him a reputation of command problems. Just before the trade, he participated in the Rising Stars game on All-Star weekend. He got shellacked. The rest of his 2010 seemed to reflect some confidence issues.

The next year, Peña rebounded as he pitched a full season with Class-AA Huntsville. 2014 wasn’t as kind though.

Peña pitched to a 4.56 ERA in 128.1 innings across 25 games (24 starts). His FIP was 4.10 though his SIERA was 3.90. He wasn’t particularly unlucky as his opponent batting average on balls in play was .269 and he even returned to a great strikeout form tallying 140 on the year.

His biggest problems were a 5.3 BB/9 — which is painfully high — and a 20.4% line drive percentage, his career-worst by more than 4 percent.

Peña was outrighted to Triple-A in November of last year, which took him off of the 40-man roster and exposed him to the Rule 5 Draft. Perhaps it was his rough season that led to no one selecting him, but it also likely had something to do with the elbow injury that ended his season early.

Still just 25, the Brewers have experience with pitchers needing a while to “get it”. Peña still has a big fastball, but until he knows where it and his other pitches are going more often that he seems to now, he’ll never realize the potential he showed when he signed as an 18-year-old.

For now, the erratic Peña will be in big league camp as he’s still someone the organization would very much like to see succeed. Time isn’t infinite in the cases of baseball prospects, even prospects with Peña’s kind of heat.

Catch up on the countdown!

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – BONUS ARTICLE

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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.

TylerCravyBBtJN#75 – Tyler Cravy

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.

HobbsJohnsonBBtJN#74 – Hobbs Johnson

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.

TaylorWilliamsBBtJN#73 – Taylor Williams

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.

CameronGarfield#72 – Cameron Garfield

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.

AdamWeisenburger#71 – Adam Weisenburger

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.

MattLongBBtJN#70 – Matt Long

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.

So there you have it. We’re caught up to today with #68 Ariel Peña coming later.

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #76 Mike Strong

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It’s been 76 days away from Opening Day all day today, Tuesday, January 20. Unfortunately, sometimes life gets you backed up and you can’t get your release until late in the day. Innuendo aside, let’s dispense with the typically lengthy open and drop right into my profile of the player who will wear #76 in spring training this year…

Mike Strong.

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Michael Joseph Strong is a 26-year-old left-handed pitcher from Minnesota, by way of Oklahoma State University. He was drafted three times as an amateur in three consecutive years. The Chicago White Sox drafted him in 2009 in the 25th round. The Oakland Athletics chose Strong in the 22nd round in 2010. Finally, the Brewers selected as signed the southpaw as a 10th round selection in 2011.

Strong pitched as a rookie in 2011 and had a rough go of things. In six of this 15 appearances, Strong allowed at least 4 ER, with his worst being an 8 ER outing on August 31st of that year with the rookie ball affiliate Helena Brewers. Strong made 13 starts in those 15 games in 2011 and finished with a combined 6.10 ERA.

The next season would find Strong pitching for the Class-A affiliate Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Midwest League. 21 regular season games, zero starts, 2.76 ERA. Strong didn’t get going in 2012 until May, but it was enough to earn himself a ring as the Timber Rattlers won the Midwest League Championship! Perhaps the limited games is partly why he repeated Class-A in 2013. 25 games, eight starts and 87.0 IP for Strong in 2013 earned him an off-season promotion to the Class-A Advanced Brevard County Manatees.

It’s 2014 that really paved the way for the situation Strong finds himself in today. That situation, of course, is having been added to the 40-man roster and attending his first legitimate big league spring training. In 2014, as mentioned, Strong began his season by breaking camp with the Manatees. There he pitched in 30 games including six starts, compiling a 2.50 ERA in 75.2 IP. He would strike out 78 hitters while walking 23 and allowing 56 hits. Strong was used in a variety of roles as has been his M.O. to this point in his career. It was a good season for Strong in the Florida State League.

With an eye on sending him to the Arizona Fall League (a proving ground of sorts for up-and-coming players), the Brewers promoted Strong to Class-AA Huntsville for one appearance. He would pitch 4.0 hitless and scoreless innings in relief, allowing one walk while striking out six. After that, Strong would be ticketed for Arizona where he made 11 more appearances, totaling an additional 13.2 IP. Strong was quite good in the AFL, pitching to a 1.98 ERA (3 ER) while striking out 14 and walking three.

Then it became decision time on the lefty. Was he to a point in his development where it made sense to protect him from Rule 5 exposure? The Brewers lost another left-hander recently in Lucas Luetge when the Seattle Mariners plucked him in a Rule 5 Draft. Strong’s case was solid that he deserved at the very least another season of minor league ball in the Brewers system to see what they really have.

Looking ahead to 2015, Strong has an outside chance to impact the big league bullpen out of camp. After carrying four southpaws in their 2014 bullpen at different times, the Brewers currently only have setup man Will Smith coming back in a similar role. And despite Ron Roenicke saying in previous years that he doesn’t feel it a necessity to have even one lefty, I think he enjoyed being able to play matchups when situations warranted. Strong probably isn’t ready for primetime just yet as it relates to full innings of work for Milwaukee, but as a situational lefty who could pitch his way to more responsibility, there’s opportunity.

Still, all likelihood has Strong starting 2014 with the now-based-in-Biloxi Class-AA affiliate, the Biloxi Shuckers. Give him time there, move him up to Class-AAA Colorado Springs when he’s ready, and just maybe Strong ends up contributing down the stretch in September when the Brewers are hopefully looking to save some innings on Smith’s arm.

Bottom line though, Mike Strong is one to watch in 2015. If the Brewers front office thinks he’s worthy of a 40-man roster spot, he’s worthy of our attention.

(I just did that whole thing without one pun on his name. That’s a strong effort on my part.)

(Dang it.)

You can follow Mike Strong on Twitter (so you should): @Strong_Mike1188

Catch up on the countdown!

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #77 David Goforth

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Another day closer to Opening Day, another ballplayer profiled on “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” 2015 edition.

We’re 11 weeks out from the Brewers opener on April 6. That equates to 77 days for those who were told that there would be no math.

Wearing 77 on his jersey once Pitchers and Catchers report on February 20 is the newest Brewers draftee to be added to the 40-man roster…

David Goforth.

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This is the first time I’ve had the pleasure of writing a full article on David Paul Goforth. Last season he was announced as a non-roster invitee a full 11 days after his profile otherwise would have been written up. So we’ll go through some background first before getting into his 2014 and outlook for 2015.

The 5’10”, 205lb reliever was drafted by the Brewers in the 7th round of the 2011 draft out of Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi). Unlike yesterday’s subject, Taylor Jungmann, Goforth would sign right away and actually appear in 19 games for the short-season rookie ball affiliate Helena Brewers in 2011. Despite being targeted as an eventual relief pitcher, Goforth began the 2012 season in the Wisconsin Timber Rattler’s rotation. The Brewers use the philosophy that relievers can develop their repertoire and arm strength more quickly by beginning their development as starting pitchers. It’s a path they’ve taken with many players other than Goforth, one that they’ll likely continue to utilize.

Goforth would spend all of 2012 with the Class-A Timber Rattlers, logging 150.2 IP and a robust 4.66 ERA across 28 starts. That wasn’t much of a worry long-term however, given the plan and the development-based goals. The right-hander would begin 2013 with the Class-A Advanced Brevard County Manatees, still starting, but would earn a promotion to (primarily) the Class-AA Huntsville bullpen in the second half of June. While his numbers were never earthshattering, a combined 3.17 ERA and 3.46 FIP in 125.0 IP were enough to garner Goforth’s inclusion among the Brewers contingent sent to the Arizona Fall League. Goforth would make 12 appearances, striking out 15 hitters over 12.0 IP. He performed well enough that I thought he might make the step up and start this past season at Class-AAA Nashville.

Instead, Goforth would spend all of 2014 with Huntsville. In 64.2 IP over 54 games (including 44 games finished), Goforth would record 27 saves. He’d tally just 46 strikeouts, and walk 29 (for an untenable 4.0 BB/9). His ERA was elevated at 3.76 but part of that was no doubt fueled by a .290 BABIP against.

The end of the 2014 season brought with it an incredibly important decision for Goforth. When it came time to determine whether he deserved protection on the Brewers 40-man roster, the front office thought about it for several more hours than the other additions (Jungmann, Michael Strong, and Yadiel Rivera). When the Brewers first announced 40-man roster adds, it was the other three whose names were mentioned. But in the end, Goforth’s profile as a late-inning reliever whose fastball sits in the mid 90s (touching 98 MPH) who carries a trio of secondary pitches (cutter, curve, change) thanks to his time starting was enough to worry the Brewers that someone else might pluck him in the Rule 5 Draft. After all, relief pitchers are the easiest to “hide” in the middle of a bullpen.

Chances are good that he’ll make his Major League debut in 2015, but the bottom line is that while Goforth has a plus fastball and a promising cutter, it’s his command of his arsenal as opposed to its composition that’ll get him to Milwaukee and keep him there. But it all starts again in about a month at Maryvale for the 26-year-old Mississippi-born fireballer. It could be a season that makes his baseball career.

You can follow David Goforth on Twitter (so you should): @DavidGoforth33

Catch up on the countdown!

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #78 Taylor Jungmann

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Welcome to the first installment of my annual column series counting down to Brewers Opening Day!

Veteran readers know the drill, but for all of you who may not have found my work until the regular season started last year here’s the skinny. We count down to Opening Day for the Milwaukee Brewers — Monday, April 6th this year — by profiling a different Brewers player on certain days along the way. Who I profile on a specific day is determined by the jersey number that the player will be wearing while in big league camp at Spring Training.

So, to illustrate, April 4th is two days away from Opening Day. Scooter Gennett wears #2 on his jersey. I profile Scooter Gennett on April 4th. Make sense? Okay, one more…

Today is January 18th and we sit 78 days away from Opening Day 2015. The player who has worn 78 on his back in each of his big league spring trainings will do so again in 2015.

That player is…

Taylor Jungmann.

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After being selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, the path for Taylor Heath Jungmann seemed to be pretty much laid out. A three-year college pitcher at the University of Texas, Jungmann was viewed as someone who was as much a finished product as anyone in that draft. The Brewers wanted someone who could reach the majors in a couple of years if everything broke right.

The 6’6″ right-hander didn’t pitch in 2011 following a long junior season at Texas with a ton of innings on his arm. He also didn’t sign until late in the year, a product of the old rules governing amateur signing deadlines. Despite it all, he made an encouraging professional debut in 2012 at High-A Brevard County. (It was disappointing on a personal level that he never pitched as a Timber Rattler as I was looking forward to seeing him in person, though perhaps I’ll get my chance if he’s still at Triple-A in June.) By the time a somewhat disappointing 2013 season entirely with the Class-AA Huntsville Stars (10-10 record, 4.33 ERA) concluded, the talk had turned from “maybe not developing as quickly as was hoped” to “maybe he won’t ever get there”. I suppose I understand the scouting reports driving those sentiments, like the concern that Jungmann’s control still hadn’t come around (4.7 BB/9) and his strikeouts were way off the expected pace (5.3 K/9 for a 1.12 K/BB ratio), but I’ve never been one to simply give up on a young and talented guy so quickly. Then again, I’m nothing even close to a professional baseball scout either.

Still, Jungmann was giving people some concern. He would start 2014 back with the Stars, in part because of how full the Class-AAA Nashville Sounds rotation was to begin the year. Jungmann shined in his 52.0 IP with Huntsville. He posted a 2.77 ERA, maintained his 0.7 HR/9 rate, slashed his walk rate to 2.6, and even upped his strikeouts recording 46 for a healthy 8.0 K/9. He earned a promotion to Nashville which was realized in mid-May.

Jungmann pitched strongly in his first taste of Triple-A competition. His ERA predictably went up, and his walk rate jumped probably more than anyone would like, but he increased his strikeout rate and did a lot to be very encouraged about moving forward. For instance, Jungmann allowed at least 4 ER in six of his Triple-A appearances, but none came after July 13th. In fact, Jungmann finished the season with a run of five starts with a game score of at least 60, and six of seven with the other game checking in at 59. His final start saw his give up one earned run over 5.0 IP. He struck out nine in that game, but also walked six. If you take it as a microcosm (which is somewhat unfair given the walks in that game but anyway…), you can see some of the strides he’s made but also that he still has things to work on.

Entering his age 25 season, Jungmann required 40-man roster protection from the Rule 5 Draft last month and in part as a result looks to be the number seven starting pitcher for the Brewers (if the roster construction on Opening Day matches how things are today). I absolutely predict we’ll see Jungmann toe the rubber in The Show in 2015. For the sake of team success, you hope that’s not until September when he gets to experience life as a September call-up, but chances are we’ll see the big Texas-native before that.

The pieces foreseen by the late Bruce Seid and his staff when selecting Jungmann with Milwaukee’s top overall draft pick in 2011 are finally starting to fall into place. Hopefully those pieces are one day a part of a championship puzzle at Miller Park.

But for now, for the six weeks of Spring Training, watch for number 78 to continue to build on the best season of his professional career.

Brewers Jersey Number Updates

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Several of the newest jersey numbers for Brewers 40-man rosterees were updated last night.

If you’ve read me for any length of time, you probably know what a number nerd I am by now. After all, these numbers are an impetus behind my annual countdown to Opening Day.

Without further ado, here are the number updates which also will be where you can find these players in said countdown.

Logan Schafer, who gave up his #22 when Matt Garza was signed during last year’s Brewers On Deck fanfest, now had to give up his #1 after the team retired it for outgoing commissioner and former owner Bud Selig. Schafer gets #7 for 2015.

Brooks Hall was listed without a number for a time but returns to the 63 he wore last spring as a new 40-man add.

Similarly, Taylor Jungmann returns to the 78 he’s worn as a past non-roster invitee.

David Goforth will wear #77 when pitchers and catchers report to Maryvale in his first spring on the 40-man.

Number 76 now belongs to lefty Mike Strong as he contends for a specialist role in the big league bullpen.

And now for the guys new to the organization…

Big off-season acquisition and new starting first baseman Adam Lind will wear the 24 used by Lyle Overbay last season.

Catcher Juan Centeno has been assigned #66.

Finally for these updates, shortstop Yadiel Rivera will don #65 in his first big league camp.

(As of this writing, new corner infielder Luis Jimenez and new outfielder Shane Peterson hadn’t been assigned a number…at least not ones that were updated on the Brewers website.)

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