Crew

Crew

CCC covering the Milwaukee Brewers

King of the Diamond- Week of 6/12-6/18

If this is your first time checking out King of the Diamond pieces, here’s what you can look forward to seeing:

Every Monday we will look at which Milwaukee Brewer stood out from a game changing performance, or provided consistent production over the previous week. We will do the same for one other player within the NL Central (Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates).

The Brewers put together an impressive 5-2 week with series wins over the San Diego Padres and divisional-rival St. Louis Cardinals. Milwaukee’s bullpen continues to be a large question mark, but the offense was able to bail the bullpen out on multiple occasions.

King of the Diamond- Eric Thames

Image result for eric thames

The surprise of the year continues to thrash opposing pitchers and therefore wins this week’s diamond award. This past week Thames notched dingers in four straight games, including a go-ahead home run in the ninth to beat the Cardinals and a walk off home run to defeat the Padres 6-5 in 10 innings. Thames now has 20 bombs on the year and should have no problem reaching 40 by the end of the season.

King of the Diamond- Dexter Fowler, St. Louis Cardinals

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After being a huge disappointment to begin the season, Fowler appears to have found his stroke. Over the past week, he has seen his season batting average spike from .230 to .254. Similar to Thames, he has homered in four straight games and now leads his team with 13 home runs. The Cardinals have had a sub-par year sitting six games under .500 but only 5.5 games behind Milwaukee for the division lead. Fowler finding his stroke will be huge down the road for the Cards if he can keep things going.

Breakout Brewers: Domingo Santana

Standing surprisingly as one of the longest tenured players on the roster, the Brewers originally acquired Domingo Santana as part of the 2015 deadline blockbuster that sent Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Astro in return for Santana and prospects Brett Phillips, Josh Hader, and Adrian Houser. After an injury mired 2016 season left him with only 77 games played (.256/.345/.447, 11 HR), Santana needed to show Milwaukee his worth in 2017 to guarantee a spot in their future plans, especially with the barrage of high-level outfield prospects coming through the system. Thus far in the season, Santana has capitalized on his breakout potential, and is looking like an integral part of the Brewers moving forward.

Wisconsin Sitdowns: Caden Lemons

Caden Lemon’s was the Brewers 3rd draft pick in the MLB draft which started this Monday. He is an 18 year old 6’6″ Right Hander from Alabama. 

Q: Has baseball always been your main sport?

A: Yeah for sure ever since I was a kid.

Q: Were you always a pitcher?

A: Yeah always since we were allowed to pitch.

Q: When did it start to become reality that you would not only get drafted but go on the first day?

A: It has always been a goal since my junior year, as a family we weren’t sure it would be the first day, but we were happy about it and it’s a huge honor.

Q: What do you feel your strengths are as a pitcher?

Lemons has hit 97 on a radar gun and could be a future stud for Milwaukee.

A: My competitiveness, how much I want to play, my will to win and the fact that I always want to be out on the mound.

Q: Have you ever been to Wisconsin?

A: I have not, the furthest north I have ever been is Chicago.

Q: Did you have a feeling the Brewers would be the team to pick you?

A: I had a meeting in Biloxi, but was trying keep an open mind.

Q: What do you feel you need to improve on to be successful?

A: You can always improve on anything in my mind. I want to work with the coaches in the minor leagues and eventually pitch for Milwaukee.

Q: What kind of player do you seek to emulate?

A: No not exactly, I believe everyone is different and why model your game after someone that is not you. If you make yourself the best you can be that is your best route to success.

Q: Do you have a pitcher you think is most similar to you?

A: Not really, people have told me Noah Syndergaard, but I think that is more because of the hair and being tall.

Q: Do you ever plan on cutting your hair?

A: Absolutely not.

Q: What is it like to be graduating high school one week and on the brink of being a professional athlete the next?

Lemons spoke at length about how his work ethic was a key piece of his success.

A: It is kind of what you plan your life for and what I worked for throughout senior season. It was a huge honor, but in the back of my head this is what I worked for and put in the time for. It is amazing to reach your goals.

Q: Do you have a favorite game you have played in?

A: The game at Thompson High School this year. It was to make it into the playoffs, we were down 1-0, I pitched game 2 and we won that to force a game 3.

 Q: If you debuted tomorrow what would your walkout song be?

A: Ooh that’s hard probably Gyalchester by Drake.

The Lost Ones: How Segura, Khris and Scooter Have Left Their Imprint Away from Milwaukee

In recent weeks, I’ve been contemplating as to whether this article should excuse itself from eternal shuteye, and, therefore, come out. All it took was a few chyrons, frenzied tickers, and a collection of perusals in the daily newspaper, to not only see the Ruth-like season that rookie Aaron Judge has put together for the Bronx Bombers but also see how proliferative the stat lines have been for Cincinnati Reds utility man Scooter Gennett, Seattle Mariners second baseman Jean Segura and Oakland A’s leftfielder Khris Davis.

There was a time when the Milwaukee Brewers lineup didn’t boast top prospects (Lewis Brinson, Orlando Arica, and Brett Phillips), and one doesn’t have to scavenge too much to find it.

Before the seismic renovation to the Brewers organization, one that culminated in the coronating of a new general manager and included the abandonment of, nearly, any longish-tenured player at positions ripe with younger talent, Segura was looked at as an asset, Gennett a fan-favorite, and Davis a player who could swing a mean stick, despite his swing-and-miss rate, in the Brew City. Outwardly, this troika would cement their names on the Brewers’ lineup card for the next decade, well after the baggage and superstardom of Ryan Braun dissipated…, or so we in the Badger state thought.

But, how did the Brewers unload a slugger, Davis, who now ranks in his respective league top-10 in RBIs, top five with 17 round trippers this season? How about the on-base machine, Segura, who ranks second in the American League with .342 batting average? Finally, what about Gennett, who is less than a fortnight removed from hitting four homers and 10 (no, that’s not a typo) RBIs in one game? He is also on pace to shatter his personal season-high for combined Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in a season (1.1 this year; best is 2.2).

It all began with the rapid ascension of Segura, after his award-winning stint in the Dominican Winter League, following the 2012 season, and subsequent All-Star nod months later in his first full big-league season. The hardball cognoscenti thought that he was the straw that would stir the drink for Milwaukee, whose team, at that time were about a year removed from savoring champagne…almost.

Contention looked somewhat realistic after the Crew felt justified in Segura’s production, after acquiring him for Zack Grienke. In ’13, the young shortstop hit .294, swiped 44 bases and amassed 10 triples, all while buttressing the notion he was an above-average defender.

Below the surface, though, the Brewers had another tenderfoot at shortstop, Orlando Arcia, who was unearthing some gaudy flashes of leather as a member of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Brewers’ Class A affiliate.

After being optioned to the Nashville Sounds (the Brewers’ then Triple-A affiliate) early on in his rookie season, Khris Davis took over in left field for the suspended Ryan Braun. His play was inspiring enough to oust Nori Aoki, who was eventually traded to Kansas City in 2014, from his everyday role. Davis’ success also made Braun switch fields, this time playing in right.

After spring training in 2014, Manager Ron Roenicke put second baseman Rickie Weeks in a platoon with Gennett, before deciding to the Gennett the upper hand and a cemented place in the starting lineup.

Gennett hit .289, found his niche as a responsible, versatile defender, and had innumerable fans baying over him, mostly due to his boyish charm and peculiar nickname.

The whole league was put on notice by the Brewers, a team spent that spent 131 days atop the NL Central, with a nucleus consisting of pitch-framing extraordinaire and dead-eye hitter Jonathan Lucroy; Khris Davis, who was becoming a very consistent power threat at the backend of the lineup; Braun; the comfortable Gennettl and Segura.

The Brewers, as had been the case since the turn of the millennium, found a path of turbulence, however, following the All-Star break. Ropes kept getting shorter in the abyss, and a 9-17 September placed them third in the division. Following 2014, unquestioned ace and all-time strikeout leader of the Brewers, Yovani Gallardo, was dealt to the Texas Rangers in exchange for reliever Corey Knebel, infielder Luis Sardiñas and pitching prospect Marcos Diplan.

In July 2015, the fire sale continued with another team in the Lone Star state — this time with the Astros — and the trade of centerfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Mike Fiers, both of whom were 29, was consummated. The Brewers were 14 games under .500 by the midsummer classic, plagued by inconsistent hitting, porous defense and a 4.28 team ERA (seventh worst in the majors) by season’s end. They finished fourth in the NL Central. That October, former assistant general manager of the Astros and sabermetric enthusiast, David Stearns, shed his assistant tag and darted to Milwaukee to become the team’s new general manager.

Segura was slumping — his batting average regressed in the two seasons following his All-Star campaign. His WAR was at an even zero – usually the output of a reserve. A change of scenery was necessary, as his age-25 season mucked the future. Remember that line about Segura being that straw that stirred the drink? The Brewers concluded they were better off chugging that drink, tossing the straw to the wolves (or, in this case, the Arizona Diamondbacks), and carrying on, specifically with trading players.

After parting with ways with Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, and all the aforementioned recent five-year legends who have graced the grass and dirt of Miller Park, the Brewers somehow find themselves in the conversation for the postseason, at least as of June 14. The continued success of former Brewers has been stunted, for the most part (discounting the unfair injury that took Prince Fielder’s career, of course); yet, Segura finished 13th in the NL MVP race for the lowly Diamondbacks last season. Khris Davis hit over 40 homers last year, to go with 100 RBIs. Gennett, statistically the least talented of the three, has still been a great fielder for Cincinnati.

Perhaps, the Brewers are great at scouting skilled players but the market (see the once-stalled Segura contract extensions) they’re in has shortchanged any potential for one to see a grassroots prospect climb the ladder of greatness, cleanly. Will Brinson, Phillips and the slew of acquired prospects rumbling under in the realm of A ball be worth the trade off?

Sadly, as is the case with all sports-related arguments and assertions, time will tell.

Brewers Draft Review: Day 1

More than 1/3 of the MLB season is now behind us, the All-Star Game is just about a month away (vote Brewers) and with the NBA Finals having come to an end, it is officially baseball’s time to shine. That began Monday, which brought with it the first day of the 2017 MLB Draft. The second draft for Brewers GM David Stearns began with a heavily offensive minded first day.

Round 1 (9th overall): Keston Hiura, 2B, University of California-Irvine

Slot Value: $4,570,000

Physical Tools: 6’0”, 180 pounds

Pre-Draft Rankings: #22 by MLB.com, #20 by Baseball America, #15 by Minor League Ball

Grade Tools (All by MLBPipeline; based on 20-80 scale): Hit 60  Power 50  Run 50  Arm 45  Field 45 Overall 50

Last Season Stats: .442/.567/.693, 199 AB, 88 H, 24 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 9 SB

Strengths: Contact Hitting, Great discipline at the plate (38 K to 50 BB), Quick/compact swing that finds the ball easily with underrated power

Weaknesses: Fielding/Arm Strength (both 45 graded), possible durability issues (elbow injury that may require Tommy John surgery)

Analysis: After watching film on Hiura, I was very impressed by his swing and hitting ability. Some scouts have rated his hitting as high as 70 on the 20-80 scale and say that his bat is close to Major League ready. The concerns with his elbow may have turned some off to him in the draft, but David Stearns seemingly feels that Hiura can be a strong asset for the Brewers in the future, if not just as a potentially great bat.

Competitive Balance Round A (34th overall): Tristen Lutz, OF, Martin High School (TX)

Slot Value: $1,983,600

Physical Tools: 6’3”, 210 pounds

Pre-Draft Rankings: #34 by MLB.com, #62 by Baseball America, #42 by Minor League Ball

Tool Grades: Hit 50  Power 55  Run 50  Arm 60  Field 55

Stats not found as of writing

Strengths: Good body/physical tools, great arm, versatility (played multiple outfield positions in high school)

Weaknesses: Less of a power hitter than contact hitter, not the best runner for the outfield position

Analysis: A prospect with varying rankings prior to the draft, Lutz will bring a raw power bat and a strong arm to the Brewers system. In a system that is loaded with outfielders, he may need to wait longer than he may like to reach the Major League level, his tool grades provide a reason to believe he can be very successful. A great baseball body along with being just 18 years old out of high school (19 in August), look for Tristen Lutz to potentially make a quick rise up the Brewers minor league ranks.

Round 2 (46th overall): Caden Lemons, RHP, Vestavia Hills High School (AL)

Slot Value: $1,493,500

Physical Tools: 6’6”, 175 pounds

Pre-Draft Rankings: #77 by MLB.com, #57 by Baseball America, #70 by Minor League Ball

Tool Grades: Fastball 65  Slider 50  Curveball 45  Changeup 50  Control 45  Overall 45

Stats not found as of writing

Strengths: Tall at 6’6”, plus fastball which can top out at 97 MPH, great potential if fulfilled

Weaknesses: Lanky frame, inconsistent form, sometimes weak command due to form, average-to-above-average second pitches

Analysis: Lemons’ lanky frame and solid pitch arsenal bring similar comparisons to recent Brewers call-up Josh Hader. If he is able to put some more muscle on his frame and gain a solid amount of weight, he may be able to reach triple digits and make his fastball even more of an asset for him. However, like Hader, he is going to need to improve his command if he is going to be successful. Will he be successful? Well, we can only hope he follows in the footsteps of last year’s #46 pick, Lucas Erceg in that department.

Brewers Week In Review: 6/5-6/11

6/5-6/8: vs. San Francisco Giants

Record: 2-2

Results: 7-2 L, 5-2 W, 6-3 W, 9-5 L

Star of the Series: Eric Sogard (7-for-13 (.538), 3 RBI)

Just as in the Dodgers series, many Brewers fans would have likely been happy with a split against the San Francisco Giants in this series. However, with the combination of Milwaukee in first place, the Giants coming in near the bottom of the NL West and the Crew avoiding Madison Bumgarner (injury), a series win was definitely within reach and easier to come by than usual against this team. Junior Guerra had another solid start since his return in game one, only allowing 1 earned run over 5 innings. However, the bullpen let the game slip away, as 5 runs over the final two innings sealed the Crew’s fate in the 7-2 loss. That same bullpen also left fans at Miller Park with a scare the next night, as the Giants scored two runs in the 9th inning off of Carlos Torres and had runners on first and second with nobody out before Corey Knebel came in and finished the job.

6/9-6/11: @ Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 1-2

Results: 8-6 W, 3-2 L, 11-1 L

Star of the Series: Hernan Perez (3-for-11 (.273), 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, SB)

Exactly two weeks after the Diamondbacks came to town in late May, Milwaukee traveled to Chase Field for a weekend 3-game set in Phoenix. Playing in one of the best hitter’s parks in MLB, the Brewers were relatively shut down. After an 8-run, 14-hit performance in game 1, they tallied a total of 3 runs and 6 hits in the next two games behind pitching gems by Arizona starters Zack Godley and Robbie Ray. Hernan Perez added two home runs to his season total, which now stands at 9. The bullpen also continued to struggle, giving up 9 hits and 10 runs in just 2 innings on Sunday. However, this series provided a glimpse into the future, as both top pitching prospect Josh Hader and top hitting prospect Lewis Brinson made their much anticipated Major League debuts.

NL Central Standings Update (as of 6/12/17)

  1. Milwaukee Brewers: 33-31
  2. Chicago Cubs: 31-31 1 GB
  3. Louis Cardinals: 29-32 2.5 GB
  4. Cincinnati Reds: 29-33 3 GB
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates: 28-35 4.5 GB

Transactions

6/5: Boston Red sox trade SS Yeison Coca to Brewers; Placed 3B Travis Shaw on paternity list; Recalled CF Brett Phillips from AAA Colorado Springs

6/7: Activated 3B Travis Shaw from paternity list; Placed Matt Garza on 10-day DL (chest contusion)

6/8: Optioned CF Brett Phillips to AAA Colorado Springs; Recalled RHP Paolo Espino from AAA Colorado Springs

6/9: Placed 3B Travis Shaw on bereavement list; Brett Phillips assigned to Milwaukee from AAA Colorado Springs; Recalled LHP Josh Hader from AAA Colorado Springs; Optioned RHP Paolo Espino to AAA Colorado Springs

6/10: Recalled OF Lewis Brinson from AAA Colorado Springs; Placed 2B Jonathan Villar on 10-day DL (lower back strain)

Breakout Brewers: Chase Anderson

Chase Anderson has proven to be more than a pleasant surprise in 2017 – he has been a god-send for a Brewers pitching staff that has at times appeared futile. Acquired along with prospect Isan Diaz and MLB infielder Aaron Hill during the off-season, Anderson was inserted into the starting rotation. He had an up-and-down season, finishing with a 9-11 record, a 4.31 ERA, and a 1.37 WHIP. Advanced metrics rated Anderson’s performance as that of a below average starting pitcher, displayed by his 1.1 WAR (wins above replacement) and his 98 ERA+ (100 is league average).

Brewers Week In Review: 5/29-6/4

5/29-6/1: @ New York Mets

Record: 2-2

Results: 4-2 L, 5-4 L (12 innings), 7-1 W, 2-1 W

Star of the Series: Corey Knebel (2.1 IP, 5 K, 1 BB, 1 SV)

Coming off of a back and forth series with Arizona prior to arriving in New York for a brief road trip with the Mets, the Brewers were looking for a good series in order to hold on to their first place lead in the division. However, the first two games of the series did not quite go as planned. Four earned runs from Matt Garza sealed the Crew’s fate in the opener, and the Brewers lost a 12-inning heartbreaker the next night, a game which saw chances for both teams in later innings be squandered. The offense saw its pop return in the 7-1 win, with home runs by Thames and Domingo Santana leading the charge. Finally, series star Knebel shut the Mets down in the series’ final affair with two strikeouts on the way to his 4th save of the season since taking over the closer’s role.

6/2-6/4: vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 1-2

Results: 2-1 L (12 innings), 10-8 L, 3-0 W

Another day, another series in which the Brewers bullpen gives up leads. In this case, it seemingly cost them the series win as a whole. In many ways, this series was quite similar to the Mets series just days earlier. A loss in 12 innings? Check; Game lost by two runs with a majority of runs scored in only a few innings? Check; Third game where home runs by Thames and Santana led to the victory? Check. Now, if you had told Brewers fans that they would play a close, 2-1 series loss against one of the best current teams in baseball, many of those fans would have been quite happy with that. However, also knowing that Milwaukee was just a few pitches away from possibly sweeping that same team in the series, not so much.

NL Central Standings Update (as of 6/5/17)

  1. Milwaukee Brewers: 30-27
  2. Chicago Cubs: 28-27 1 GB
  3. Louis Cardinals: 26-28 2.5 GB
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates: 26-31 4.0 GB
  5. Cincinnati Reds: 25-30 4.0 GB

Transactions

No major transactions occurred this week

Brewers’ Minor League Review: April/May

Through two months of baseball, it is clear that the Brewers’ rebuilding project is moving along quite nicely. Cumulatively, Brewers’ minor league affiliates possess the 7th best winning percentage among all MLB teams, and house several players that profile as future big league talent while turning in excellent performances. The Brewers’ minor league system has not garnered this much attention since stars like Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, and Ryan Braun were coming through the ranks. Let’s look at what each affiliate has done through the first two months of the season.

King of the Diamond- Week of 5/22

If this is your first time checking out King of the Diamond pieces, here’s what you can look forward to seeing:

Every Monday we will look at which Milwaukee Brewer stood out from a game changing performance, or provided consistent production over the previous week. We will do the same for one other player within the NL Central (Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates).

The Brewers had a rough beginning this past week, losing five games in a row that began last Sunday. They saw their division lead evaporate, and needed to stop the bleeding in order to remain atop the NL Central.

King of the Diamond- Chase Anderson

Image result for chase anderson brewersChase Anderson picks up his first King of the Diamond award after a stellar performance that snapped Milwaukee’s five game losing streak. So far this season, Anderson has been rather average, earning a decision in just four out of ten starts this year. Saturday appeared to erase all of this, as Anderson failed to allow a hit through seven strong before a lead-off single in the eighth ended his hopes for a no-hitter. Despite Anderson coming up just short of what would have been the MLB’s first no-no this season, he picked up the much needed win with seven strong innings, allowing just one hit while striking out eleven. Milwaukee picked up another win Sunday afternoon to end the week on a high note.

King of the Diamond- Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds

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The NL Central continues to be the most competitive division in all of baseball, with all five teams separated by a mere four games. The Reds are fourth in the division but are just two-and-a-half games behind the Brewers for the division lead. Reds shortstop Zack Cozart earns our divisional King of the Diamond award this week. He has been a pleasant surprise for Cincinnati this season and currently holds an eleven-game hit streak and has recorded a hit in 19 of his last 20 games played. Cozart has been on an offensive onslaught all season long and could be a valuable trade asset should the Cincinnati become active in the trade market.