Results tagged ‘ MiLB ’

Brewers to Announce 40-Man Roster Additions Today

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Most expect 2012 Brewers MiLB Player of the Year Hunter Morris to be added to the 40-man roster today.

Today is the deadline to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the annual Rule V Draft.

That draft takes place at the Winter Meetings and was originally implemented with the idea of getting players an opportunity that they might otherwise not receive. The basics that one needs to know are that if a player is selected by another club, that player must be rostered at the MLB level for the entirety of the next season and be “active” for at least 90 days. Otherwise the player must be offered back to his original organization.

From there, it gets a little more complicated including upfront cost, roster construction, option years, salary differential, etc. The point though is that eligible players who would be of interest to other clubs need to be protected from the draft. The only way to do that is to add the player to the 40-man roster.

Not every minor leaguer is eligible though. To be eligible for the Rule V Draft a player must have played in professional (affiliated) baseball for at least four full seasons if he was signed at age 19 or older, and five full seasons if signed at 18 or younger.

The Brewers have several eligible players this year who warranted consideration for protection, but at most four open roster spots with which to protect. Last year they protected more than that and possibly adding Corey Hart add a free agent would mean someone previously protected may eventually wind up back off the roster the end. Furthermore, the group of eligible players in full could make up their own 40-man roster still have two on the outside looking in.

But those most likely seriously considered include Hunter Morris, Jason Rogers, Brooks Hall, Kyle Heckathorn, Kevin Shackelford, and Tyler Cravy.

Any of those aren’t added today are certainly names to look for on December 15th as teams make selections in the Rule V Draft. Others could be lost as well, especially if they’re able to be taken in the minor league portions of the draft like Eric Farris last year.

I have learned that the Brewers officials have had their discussions and made their arguments as to why each player should be protected. The final decision is, as it should be, now in general manager Doug Melvin’s hands.

We’ll have coverage for you whenever official word comes down. Decisions are due to the league office before the end of the day, or 11pm CST.

***BREAKING: A source informed me that Jason Rogers will be added to the 40-man roster today.***

***BREAKING PART TWO: A source confirmed that Hunter Morris will also be added to the 40-man roster, as widely expected.***

Brewer Nation Interview Series: Mitch Haniger

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As you all know, I like to interview players shortly after they’re drafted in an effort to help the fan base get to know them as well and learning more about them than just the numbers from college or high school say or what’s in a scouting report. I interviewed the Brewers’ 2013 11th round draft pick Andy Hillis back in June this year, for example.

I also like to follow up with the players every now and then, and that’s what I had the pleasure of doing yesterday with 2012 1st Round draft pick Mitch Haniger.

(If you missed my original interview with Haniger in 2012, you can find a link to it here.)

In the conversation we talk about his 2013 season which was split between Class-A Wisconsin and Class-A Advanced Brevard County, his being selected as the Brewers priority exception to the 2013 edition of the Arizona Fall League, and what his off-season plans are.

Please take a listen, learn a little bit more about an up and coming outfield prospect in the Brewers system, and get to know Mitch Haniger a bit better.

Thanks again to Mitch for his time. Be sure to follow him on Twitter: @M_Hanny19

Brewers Announce Organizational Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year

RHP Johnny Hellweg and 1B Jason Rogers Named Recipients of the Robin Yount Performance Pitcher and Player of the Year Awards, Respectively

The Milwaukee Brewers have announced the recipients of the 2013 Robin Yount Performance Awards, which recognizes the Brewers Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year.  Right-handed pitcher Johnny Hellweg was named Minor League Pitcher of the Year and first baseman Jason Rogers was named Minor League Player of the Year.

“We congratulate Johnny and Jason on their great seasons and well-deserved recognition,” said Brewers President of Baseball Operations – General Manager Doug Melvin.  “In his first season at the Triple-A level, Johnny showed why he was chosen as the top pitcher in the Pacific Coast League and we’re excited to see him contribute at the Major League level.  Jason had a great finish to the season in the Southern League as the league’s top run producer while playing nearly every game this season.  This is also a reflection of our player development and scouting staffs as they work hard to provide young players the opportunity to play in Milwaukee.”

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Hellweg, 24, spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Nashville and was named the 2013 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year, going 12-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 23 starts (125.2ip, 44er).  He led the PCL in winning percentage (.706) and opponent batting average (.228) and was among the leaders in ERA (2nd) and wins (T2nd, 12).  The 6’9” right-hander won 11 of his last 12 decisions with Nashville, including a stretch in which he went 9-0 with a 1.16 ERA over 10 starts (62ip, 8er) from May 16 – July 30.  He was also named to the 2013 All-PCL team.

Hellweg made his Major League debut with the Brewers on June 28 at Pittsburgh.  He has made four appearances (three starts) with Milwaukee and is currently in his second stint with the Brewers.  Additionally, he made one start at Class-A Wisconsin on July 15 and picked up the win in a 6-2 Timber Rattlers victory vs. Lake County.  Hellweg was selected as the Brewers Pitcher of the Month for July (4gs, 4-0, 0.75era, 24ip, 2er).  The Missouri resident is in his second season as a member of the Brewers organization after being acquired from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last July in the Zack Greinke trade.

Rogers, 25, played the entire season at Double-A Huntsville, where he batted .270 with 22 HR and 87 RBI in 133 games.  He led the Southern League in RBI and ranked among the leaders in HR (T2nd), total bases (3rd, 225) and extra-base hits (T4th, 49).  Rogers was selected as an All-Star for the second straight season (Midwest League All-Star in 2012). 

Rogers earned Brewers Player of the Month honors in July (.338, 24-71, 7hr, 20rbi) and August (.333, 34-102, 5hr, 15rbi).  He was drafted by the Brewers in the 32nd round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Columbus State University.  This marks the second straight season that a Huntsville first baseman has been named Brewers Player of the Year (Hunter Morris, 2012).

Prospect Pilgrimage Audio – Taylor, Roache, McFarland

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As you’re aware if you follow me on Twitter (@BrewerNation), I was up at the Timber Rattlers game on Saturday evening for my annual prospect pilgrimage. I want to get up there more often, but it didn’t happen last year. Hopefully I’ll be able to accomplish that goal here in 2013.

Regardless, when I have gone up I’ve been fortunate enough to get a media credential and have access for some one-on-one time with the players. Last year I chatted with three guys who I had interviewed before on the phone in Mitch Haniger, Nick Ramirez and Chad Pierce. I also got the single greatest quote out of Timber Rattlers’ manager Matt Erickson when it comes to player development vs. trying to win a game on a given night.

This year, with some talented individuals on the roster, I had to limit myself to just three players quite frankly because there is only so much time between batting practice and first pitch. I think I did alright with the choices.

Here you can listen to my interviews with Tyrone Taylor, Victor Roache and Chris McFarland.

Enjoy!

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Another Opening Day

Tonight, the full-season affiliates of the Milwaukee Brewers (and other organizations as well, but you’re here for a reason so let’s focus) begin their respective regular seasons for 2013. The Brewers have four such affiliates so let’s give you a quick rundown of each one along with some quick hit info.

Nashville Sounds – Class-AAA Affiliate

The Nashville Sounds begin their 34th season of play and their 9th season as the Brewers’ top affiliate. Last year the Sounds got off to a poor start both at the plate and on the mound, but turned it around a bit as the season advanced. They technically wound up with a second-place finish in their Pacific Coast League, American Conference, Northern Division, but only sporting a 67-77 record for the campaign and falling well short of the playoffs.

While the Sounds had just one All-Star in 2012 (current Brewers reliever Jim Henderson), plenty of the parent club’s current players have made a stop in Music City, U.S.A. on their way to The Show. One man who has already debuted in the big leagues but is hoping to eventually carve himself out a permanent spot on Milwaukee’s pitching staff is the Sounds’ 2013 Opening Day starting pitcher: Tyler Thornburg.

Thornburg had an interesting 2012 as a professional with a run of oddly timed promotions which threw off his schedule and a shift in role which threw off his routine and ultimately led to some physical problems. With what is expected to be a full season of starting games again, the Brewers are hoping Thornburg can once again show the form that resulted in an 8-1 first-half record with Huntsville compete with a selection to the Double-A All-Star Game.

Thornburg will be followed in the Sounds’ rotation by 40-man rosterees Hiram Burgos and Johnny Hellweg, Zach Kroenke as the four, with Frankie De La Cruz rounding things out.

For more on Tyler Thornburg, check out his profile in my “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” series: #63 Tyler Thornburg

Filling out the batting order are such recognizable names as Scooter Gennett, Blake Lalli, Hainley Statia, Caleb Gindl, and Southern League (AA) MVP Hunter Morris. The Sounds have a nice mix of up-and-comers along with guys on the precipice of MLB service time.

The same can be said for the bullpen which is likely to be anchored by Donovan Hand who almost won a spot in the Brewers ‘pen to begin the season.

Huntsville Stars – Class-AA Affiliate

***UPDATE: The Stars’ opener was rained out tonight. Nelson will start tomorrow.***

Starting on the bump for the Stars tonight will be Jimmy Nelson, he of the 2010 draft class (second round). Nelson began the 2012 season with the High-A Manatees and was advanced up the ladder during the summer. Combined in 2012, Nelson posted a 6-8 record with an ERA of 2.83 in 127.1 innings across 23 starts. With his success in High-A, Nelson made himself the primary candidate to move up when promotion time came around and Huntsville had an opening.

While he struggled early with Huntsville, not much should be read into it. Many baseball people concur that other than the jump from Triple-A to the bigs (of course), the step between High-A and Double-A is the biggest one that a professional player makes. That being said, a heavy ball plays so long as it can be controlled. Following a brief appearance in the Arizona Fall League where it was clear that he was worn out, Nelson enters this season with elevated expectations as he continues along his career track. The Brewers have confidence in him, he has confidence in himself, and with his ability those things ought to come together pretty well in 2013.

Brevard County Manatees – Class-A Advanced Affiliate

The Manatees of the Florida State League play their home games at Space Coast Stadium. That’s awesome. Their rallying cry is “Fear the Sea Cow”. That’s even more awesome. From a production standpoint, the FSL is notoriously brutal on hitters, but the Manatees only got mediocre production from some of their pitching last year. That was en route to a 63-72 record. Looking to start the turn around on the right foot will be Opening Day starter and 2011 1st round draft pick, southpaw Jed Bradley.

Bradley had a rough go of things in 2012 after starting off well initially. More on his 2012 season can be found in his BBt(J)N profile here: #77 Jed Bradley. If the Georgia Tech product can remain injury/issue free in 2013, he’ll hopefully be able to flash more of the ability which led to his selection as the 15th overall choice 22 months ago.

Joining Bradley (who spent all of 2012 with Brevard County) will be a bevvy of graduates from Matt Erickson’s prep school in Appleton, Wisconsin. All they did together was win their league championship last year. Hopefully the magic sticks with the players as they spend some time in south Florida to begin the season.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers – Class-A Affiliate

The 2012 Midwest League Champion Timber Rattlers will begin their title defense with a series in Peoria, Illinois before coming home for an April 8th tilt which features a bobblehead giveaway with the likeness of manager Matt Erickson holding the MWL Championship trophy. It’s sharp.

Off the field, the local owners of the facility pumped a bunch of money in and many structural improvements were made to the structure around the field. The press box was expanded, the broadcast booths were segregated and moved; it was a nice facility before, but now it’s even better.

On the mound, 2012 draft choice (4th round) Tyler Wagner gets the starting nod. It sounds like Erickson will once again be employing the “piggyback” technique where another starting pitcher knows he will be pitching for sure on a given day despite not starting in the first inning. To that end, Mike Strong will follow Wagner on the bump.

As for at the plate, the Timber Rattlers begin the year featuring a treasure trove of prospects. Most top choices from the 2012 draft (Clint Coulter, Mitch Haniger, Tyrone Taylor, etc) will be there right away. They’ll be joined by prospect darling Orlando Arcia with slugger Victor Roache expected to be not far behind as he gets a little time in extended spring training in Arizona.

There are many more names in the system that I could call out, but on this Opening Day I just wanted to highlight a few including the focus on the Opening Day starting pitchers for each affiliate.

While the Brewers system is widely panned by the experts — I think the highest rank I saw out of 30 was 23rd best — there are some pieces to be excited about. Follow along if you choose to, but rest assured that help is developing throughout the minor league affiliates which begin play tonight. After all, there is no substitute for game action in baseball.

Good luck to the Sounds, Stars, Manatees, and defending champion Timber Rattlers! Maybe the Brewers will have some more rings to give out before the 2014 season.

Brewers Sign Familiar Name

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Getty Images

While I was officiating high school basketball this evening, Adam McCalvy posted the following tweet:

And unfortunately despite my tease, Cole Garner is no relation to former Brewers manager Phil Garner.

Robert Cole Garner is a 28-year-old outfielder who has spent eight seasons in the minor leagues with only the proverbial cup of coffee in the big leagues back in 2011 when he appeared in four games as a member of the Colorado Rockies. Last season was spent entirely in the minor leagues as Garner played in 64 games for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate where he hit .258/.311/.398 with six home runs and 25 runs batted in. It was his first season outside of the Rockies organization after being drafted by Colorado in the 26th round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.

McCalvy reported that the Brewers invited Garner to their early Minor League mini-camp but he was not given a formal invite to big league Spring Training.

Brewers Sign Pair of Hitters

Along with the signing of RP Jim Hoey (which we knew about back on December 22nd), the minor league transaction maven Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweeted out the following news a couple of hours ago.

ozzie_chavezChavez is a career minor leaguer who was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Brewers back in 2001. He spent eight seasons in the Brewers’ system before signing as a minor league free agent with the Phillies org in 2009.

He has played in 865 games at SS, 203 at 2B, 34 at 3B and even one appearance at 1B back in 2006. Feels very much like how the Brewers viewed and used Edwin Maysonet for the last few seasons. Capable of filling in at more than one position defensively even though he won’t ever give you much at the plate. Chavez is a career .245/.306/.324 hitter in the minors.

rene_tosoniRene Tosoni, 26, is a former Futures Game MVP (2009, in St. Louis) and played in 60 games in the Major Leagues with the Minnesota Twins in 2011. A career .203 hitter in the bigs, Tosoni played primarily left field in his time in Minnesota. The majority of his time in minor leagues was spent in right field but he does have experience all across the outfield.

Here is a video of Tosoni following the 2009 Futures Game:

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=5568387&c_id=mil

Both of these signings are minor league depth moves. It wasn’t reported whether either player received an invitation to major league camp but we’ll keep our eyes open for word.

Both Jim Hoey (@JHOEY5) and Rene Tosoni (@Tosoni08) have confirmed Twitter accounts. Follow them!

You can also follow me: @BrewerNation

Brewers Finalize Minor League Coaching Staffs

The Milwaukee Brewers today announced the Minor League coaching staffs for the 2013 season.  In addition, Rick Tomlin has been named minor league pitching coordinator.  The position was previously held by Brewers Bullpen Coach Lee Tunnell.  Tomlin enters his 24th season in the Minor Leagues, which includes coaching roles with Minnesota (1989-1995), New York-AL (1996-2004), Washington (2005-08) and New York-NL (2009-11).  He previously served as a minor league pitching coordinator with the Yankees (2002-04) and Mets (2011).

Nashville Sounds

At Triple-A Nashville, Manager Mike Guerrero and Pitching Coach Fred Dabney each return for their second season.  Bob Skube joins the Sounds as coach after spending the past six seasons as a hitting coach in the San Diego Padres organization, including the previous two seasons at Triple-A Tucson.  He also spent two seasons in the Texas Rangers organization (2005-06).  In 2006, he managed the Rangers’ rookie-level affiliate in Arizona.  Skube, who was drafted by the Brewers in the 13th round of the 1979 June Draft, played in the Brewers organization from 1979-85.  He appeared in 16 Major League games with the Brewers during the 1982-83 seasons, batting .250 with 9 RBI.

Aaron Hoback enters his first season as Nashville’s athletic trainer and his seventh season in the organization.  He spent the past three seasons at Double-A Huntsville.  Andrew Emmick begins his fourth season as strength and conditioning specialist.

Huntsville Stars

The Double-A Huntsville Stars will see the return of Manager Darnell Coles and Pitching Coach Chris Hook.  The coach is to be announced.  Dwayne Hosey, who held the position last season, will serve as coach at Rookie Helena in 2013.  Athletic Trainer Steve Patera begins his first season at Huntsville following two seasons with the Rookie Arizona Brewers.  Tim Gifford returns for his second season as strength and conditioning specialist.

BC Manatees

The coaching staff at Class-A Brevard County will remain the same in 2013.  The staff includes Manager Joe Ayrault, Pitching Coach Mark Dewey and Coach Ned Yost IV, who all return to the Manatees for their second season.  Athletic Trainer Tommy Craig and Strength and Conditioning Coach Jonah Mergen also return.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

The Midwest League Champion Wisconsin Timber Rattlers return their entire coaching staff.  Manager Matt Erickson, an Appleton native, is joined by Pitching Coach David Chavarria, Coach Dusty Rhodes, Athletic Trainer Jeff Paxson and Strength and Conditioning Specialist Christian Polega.

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The Rookie Helena Brewers will be managed by Tony Diggs, who spent the previous seven seasons as manager of the rookie-level Arizona Brewers.  Pitching Coach Elvin Nina returns for his fifth season and coach Dwayne Hosey will make the move from Huntsville.  Don Money, who coached at Helena last season, will continue in his second season as special instructor, player development in the minor league system.  He spent 14 seasons managing at various levels in the organization from 1998-2011.

ARIZONA BREWERS

Nestor Corredor will manage the Arizona Brewers in 2013 following three seasons at the helm of the Rookie Dominican League Brewers.  Pitching Coach Steve Cline returns for his 33rd season as a pitching coach in the minors, including his 18th season as a member of the Brewers farm system.  Coach Kenny Dominguez and Strength and Conditioning Specialist Jake Marx also return.  Greg Barajas, who spent last season as athletic trainer at Triple-A Nashville, will fill the same role with the Arizona Brewers.  The staff for the Rookie Dominican Summer  League Brewers will be announced at a later date.

NASHVILLE SOUNDS (AAA)
Manager Mike Guerrero
Pitching Coach Fred Dabney
Coach Bob Skube
Athletic Trainer Aaron Hoback
Strength & Conditioning Specialist Andrew Emmick
HUNTSVILLE STARS (AA)
Manager Darnell Coles
Pitching Coach Chris Hook
Coach TBD
Athletic Trainer Steve Patera
Strength & Conditioning Specialist Tim Gifford
BREVARD COUNTY MANATEES (A)
Manager Joe Ayrault
Pitching Coach Mark Dewey
Coach Ned Yost IV
Athletic Trainer Tommy Craig
Strength & Conditioning Specialist Jonah Mergen
WISCONSIN TIMBER RATTLERS (A)
Manager Matt Erickson
Pitching Coach David Chavarria
Coach Dusty Rhodes
Athletic Trainer Jeff Paxson
Strength & Conditioning Specialist Christian Polega
HELENA BREWERS (R)
Manager Tony Diggs
Pitching Coach Elvin Nina
Coach Dwayne Hosey
Athletic Trainer TBD
Strength & Conditioning Specialist TBD
ARIZONA BREWERS (R)
Manager Nestor Corredor
Pitching Coach Steve Cline
Coach Kenny Dominguez
Athletic Trainer Greg Barajas
Strength & Conditioning Specialist Jake Marx

Minor League Free Agents – Brewers

Per the minor league watchdog Matt Eddy of Baseball America, the following players who finished 2012 in the Brewers’ system are now minor league free agents. Their contracts expired and they have not (at least not yet) agreed to new deals with Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Brewers

RHP: Evan Anundsen (AA), Brian Baker (AAA), Josh Butler (AA), Mike McClendon (AAA), Amaury Rivas (AAA), Claudio Vargas (AAA)
LHP: Mitch Stetter (AAA), Philippe Valiquette (AA)
C: Humberto Quintero (AAA)
1B: Erick Almonte (AAA)
3B: Andy Gonzalez (AAA), Juan Sanchez (HiA)
SS: Domnit Bolivar (AA), Hainley Statia (AA)
OF: Jordan Brown (AAA), Corey Patterson (AAA)

The full post with all 30 MLB teams’ minor league free agents from Eddy is available here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/2012/11/minor-league-free-agents-2012/

You can follow Matt Eddy on Twitter: @eddymk

Timber Rattlers Report – Friday, June 29, 2012

Outside of a terrible third inning which saw the best-fielding infield in the Midwest League post four errors and allow four earned runs (six total in the frame), the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers played a pretty good game Friday evening.

It was a departure of sorts from my usual coverage of the Milwaukee Brewers, but the opportunity arose to actually report on the game up in Appleton, WI Friday night between the Timber Rattlers (Class-A affiliate of the Brewers) and the Peoria Chiefs (Class-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs).

The final score ended up at 8-7 in the home team’s favor, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

A run in the first inning and a five-run fourth negated a third inning outburst from the Chiefs.

Timber Rattlers’ starting pitcher David Goforth battled through that third inning which saw the entire infield struggle to record outs (his own throwing error costing him some runs). Manager Matt Erickson, after the game, said that “the third inning was uncharacteristic of our game” and that “all six of the guys in the infield…all had a mental or physical error in that one inning and when you do that obviously you’re going to give up a big inning.”

Ironically, in talking to the previous game’s starting pitcher and friend of the podcast Chad Pierce before Friday’s game, Pierce lauded the play of what he rightfully called the infield “by far the best in the Midwest (League)”.  To their credit, SS Yadiel Rivera and 2B Carlos George each had plays where they ranged far up the middle and converted hits into outs.

Before the game among other questions I asked first baseman Nick Ramirez, another friend of the podcast, about the infield play and how the quality of the field helps them make plays.

“This is one of the better fields I’ve played on in my professional career. We drag it every three innings and no one really knows how much that takes effect on your mentality. (Having a) fresh drag (means) I’m not going to get a bad hop. They take of this field, they keep it looking nice, and it’s really level.”

In my conversation with Chad Pierce he also had high praise for the Rattlers’ outfield which saw a tremendous diving play from Ben McMahan in LF late in the game Friday night to save a couple of runs for relief pitcher Stephen Peterson.

I asked Friday night’s starting center fielder, and yes…friend of the podcast, Mitch Haniger about the play of himself and his fellow outfielders. Haniger said that the right-center gap (405 feet to the wall) is always in the back of his mind and that the wind changes from day to day but that having speedy outfielders in all three spots really helps.

“All five of the outfielders on this team are real fast. I didn’t think that I was going to get to a ball last night in the gap and I just hear Lance (Roenicke) saying ‘I got it. I got it.’ and just pulled up right next to him and back him up. So it’s been great having guys by your side that if you can’t get to balls, they’re going to be there.”

Goforth pitched well otherwise including a six-pitch fourth inning which no doubt helped his offense out by limiting Chiefs starter Michael Jensen’s downtime between frames. Erickson praised Goforth after the game for his ability to bear down and get through three additional frames after the long third.

The Timber Rattlers got back in the box quickly and struck hard in their half of the fourth resulting in a 28-pitch fourth for Jensen where he let the Rattlers right back into the game by surrendering a pair of two-run home runs and another run. That tied the game up at six after four innings.

The game remained tied until the seventh though a lead-off triple in the sixth inning by Cubs uber-prospect Javier Baez looked to put the Chiefs back on top first. Goforth pitched around it however and completed six full innings in front of a short bullpen on this night.

Goforth’s final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 99 pitches (70 strikes)

Stephen Peterson took over in the 7th and walked a pair of batters around two outs. The lead runner stole third and then scored on a wild pitch from Peterson, before the reliever got out of the jam. That run would not prove the game-winner, however, as the Rattlers had yet another rally in them.

Peterson pitched a scoreless 8th inning, thanks in large part to that aforementioned tremendous diving catch in left field by McMahan. 1B Nick Ramirez then tied the game back up in the bottom half of the frame with a mammoth home run just fair inside the RF foul pole and “exactly” 398 feet away from home plate. That came off of Chiefs reliever Yao-Lin Wang who started the eighth inning for Peoria.

Current closer Tommy Toledo entered for the 9th and kept the Chiefs off the board. But Wang countered with a scoreless bottom half to send it to extra innings.

Following a second perfect frame in the 10th inning from Toledo, the Chiefs called upon Luis Liria to handle Greg Hopkins, eighth-inning hero Ramirez, and McMahan, he of the earlier two-run home run back in the big 4th inning.

Hopkins led off the frame with a single back through the box. Ramirez  struck out after Hopkins advanced to second on a wild pitch. They intentionally walked McMahan to pitch to SS Yadiel Rivera who worked a walk to load the bases after being down in the count 1-2.

Up stepped Rafael Neda who earlier in that same big fourth inning had hit the first home run of his professional career. Neda was nearly hit by a pitch early in the at-bat, but ended up singling through the left side of a partly drawn in infield for the game winner!

After the game, Neda said that not only getting his first home run but also being able to walk-off in extra innings was the biggest moment of his career to this point other than his first professional hit but it wouldn’t have been possible without the earlier rally. I asked Neda to describe how it happened and he said that “One hit started leading to another one. We just wanted to help our pitcher because there were four errors in the inning. As a catcher I wanted to help him a little more and we luckily came back in that inning.”

So despite the one rough inning, the Timber Rattlers played a very solid game all around. Most importantly, the win brought the team back to even on the second half of the year at 4-4. It was the fourth consecutive Win for the T-Rats.

This of course comes after a first-half which saw Wisconsin finish with the best record in their division. This assures them of a playoff spot but several key pieces to the success in the first half were promoted up the organizational ladder.

Therein lies the dynamic of managing at the Minor League level. I asked Erickson about that dichotomy of not only wanting to win but needing to get his players better and to move them along. His answer was perfect.

Said Erickson, “It’s player development until the first pitch of the game. Then we’re trying to beat somebody’s ass.”

Friday night, that ass belonged to Michael Jensen and the rest of his Peoria Chiefs teammates.

Your Brewer Nation Timber Rattler of the game was Rafael Neda. 2-for-5, 1 R, 3 RBI, including his first professional home run and the walk-off single in the 10th inning.

(FULL AUDIO OF OUR INTERVIEWS FROM FRIDAY NIGHT WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE SOON FOR DOWNLOAD. I WILL UPDATE THIS SPACE WHEN THAT HAPPENS.)

Until then, here are the highlights from last night’s 8-7 Timber Rattlers victory:

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