Results tagged ‘ Rafael Neda ’
Welcome, fellow Brewers fans, to the first “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” column for Series: 2013! Allow me to give you a brief reminder of how this works.
As we approach Opening Day on April 1, 2013, I will be reviewing/previewing players in the the Milwaukee Brewers organization that are either on the 40-man roster or have been given an invitation to big league camp in Spring Training. I won’t do every single non-roster invitee, but I plan on writing up most of them at this point. Basically, though, this is a way to focus on the individual members of the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Let us depart on our lengthy journey of discovery and remembrance!
First let me say that I realize that bonuses usually come at the end. In this case, it simply doesn’t work out that way.
The reason for this bonus article is that four players were announced after the day on which they would have otherwise had their individual article written and posted.
The players in question are Rafael Neda, Kentrail Davis, Hunter Morris, and Adam Weisenberger. They were assigned jersey numbers 94, 93, 92, and 91, respectively.
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.
#94 – Rafael Neda
Rafael Neda is a 24-year-old catcher who stands 6’1″ tall and weighed in last year at 215 pounds. He was born in Obregon, Mexico and played collegiate ball at New Mexico before the Brewers drafted him in the 10th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
He has never been touted for his bat which is reflected in his career minor-league slash line of .220/.314/.271, but he calls a good game and the pitchers I’ve spoken with that play with Neda all enjoy throwing to him. He is a good leader on the field and, presumably, in the clubhouse as well.
Neda played the entirety of the 2012 season at the Class-A affiliate Wisconsin Timber Rattlers based in Appleton, Wisconsin. The Timber Rattlers wound up winning the Midwest League Championship in 2012 and Neda’s gamesmanship played a large part in that championship run. While his catching skills helped a number of his early season teammates get their promotions up to Class-A Advanced Brevard County, his leadership helped hold the team together with new, young faces as they marched to postseason sucess.
I covered a game as a credentialed media member up in Appleton for one game (column here) back in June of last year and Neda was the offensive hero. He hit his first (and still only) professional home run during a rally inning and then won the game in extra innings with a walk-off single with the bases loaded.
Most young ballplayers in the minor leagues experiences flashes like that. It’s the gentlemen who can stack flashes together and reshape them into consistency that move up the organization and hopefully one day become Major League ballplayers.
To be blunt, Neda doesn’t fit the profile of someone who will ever excel enough behind or in front of the dish to become a big league regular. I have no doubt though that he’ll be a quality contributor this spring as pitchers hone their craft and that Neda won’t be going anywhere out of the Brewers system for as long as he wants to play. The term “organization guy” gets thrown out as a negative a lot of the times I see it used to describe someone, but in Neda’s case if that’s what he becomes, I think that the Brewers minor leaguers he plays with along the way will be that much better for it.
#93 – Kentrail Davis
An outfielder from Mobile, Alabama by way of the University of Tennessee, Kentrail Latron Davis (5’9″, B/T: L/R) reached the Double-A affiliate Huntsville Stars in 2012 following a strong showing in the 2011 Arizona Fall League.
Davis, 24, was originally drafted out of high school by the Colorado Rockies in 2007 but chose to go to college instead. The Brewers then picked him in the supplemental first round in 2009 (39th overall).
He struggled out of the gates in 2010 after being assigned straight to Class-A Advanced Brevard County to begin his professional career. After finishing out the 2010 season with the Timber Rattlers, where he hit very well, Davis spent all of 2011 back at Brevard County. His prospect status was in some doubt though after a lackluster season at the plate where he hit only .245/.317/.361 in 565 plate appearances. He was very good when he reached base though, stealing 33 bases in 41 attempts (80% success rate), and scoring 76 runs.
In 2012, Davis was a Huntsville Star and perhaps being home in Alabama helped him relax. He finished the year with a .274/.357/.404 line in 498 plate appearances over 122 games. He has a ways to go before he’ll be under consideration for a 40-man roster spot (let alone a 25-man one) but if he can improve his vision and discipline he has the chance to perhaps contribute one day in a reserve OF role at the big league level.
Of note: Davis is ranked as the 11th best prospect in the Brewers system entering 2013 by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.
#92 – Hunter Morris
After an inauspicious start to the year, Morris, 24, turned on the power in a big way in the second half of the season. He finished with the following statistics:
136 G, 571 PA, 522 AB, .303/.357/.563, 77 R, 158 H, 40 doubles, 6 triples, 28 HR, 294 total bases, 113 RBI, 2 SB, 40 BB, 117 K
Those numbers were good enough to win the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player Award! But the accolades wouldn’t stop there as Morris was also awarded the Minor League Gold Glove for first basemen. Yeah, out of all of them, spread over 10 “domestic-based, full-season leagues”, Morris was named the best fielder as his position.
Make no mistake though, Morris was drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Auburn University for his bat which is what will get him to the big leagues should he achieve such, but his developing defense would be a nice boost to his chances.
Morris has things that are often looked for in a prospect (he’s 6’2″, 200 lbs, for what it’s worth), but he also has some reports about the things that could hold him back. But if this power remains the norm and he can increase his walk rate, the Brewers might be looking to add his left-handed swing and glove to their everyday lineup as early as 2014.
In a recent radio appearance, Brewers GM Doug Melvin said that they’re going to watch Morris closely this spring as their evaluation of him very well could impact their long-term decision about the future of the now incumbent 1B Corey Hart in Milwaukee who is only signed through the end of the upcoming 2013 season.
No pressure, kid.
Of note: Morris is ranked the #7 overall Brewers prospect by MLB.com, and is #4 on the overall list of first base prospects in the minor leagues entering 2013.
#91 – Adam Weisenburger
After being chosen as the Best Defensive Catcher in the Brewers system by Baseball America, Adam Robert Weisenburger will enter big league camp in 2013 much like the rest of the players in this article. That is to say that none of them stand a chance of breaking camp with a plane ticket to Milwaukee in hand.
Don’t let that dissuade you from understanding how a guy like Weisenburger will be spending his time before being reassigned to the minor league fields at Maryvale.
Catching bullpens, working with some pitchers he’ll likely meet up with down the road in the 2013 MiLB season, and other things in preparation, but with starting big league catcher Jonathan Lucroy leaving camp to play with Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, there will be plenty of innings behind the dish in actual big league Spring Training games.
It’s why Neda is there. It’s why Weisenburger is there. It’s also why the Brewers have invited non-roster catchers Blake Lalli and Anderson De La Rosa and Dayton Buller to camp. To be clear, however, if Weisenburger lives up to the billing as the best defensive catcher in the system than he could see the bulk of the game time given to these youngsters.
Weisenburger split time in 2012 between Class-A Advanced Brevard County and Class-AA Huntsville. While he didn’t hit particularly well at either stop (less so as the competition got tougher), his ability to receive, throw, and call a game are what could further his advancement in the system. He’s an interesting case to watch this spring in whatever game action he’s afforded.
Physically, the Minnesota native is 5’10″ and listed at 185 pounds. He bats right-handed. Weisenburger was drafted in the 34th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Miami University, in Ohio.
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: