Brewers make Sept. 1 call-ups

It’s September, which means baseball rosters can expand, and the Milwaukee Brewers wasted no time in doing so.

The team announced it had recalled outfielder Brett Phillips, along with pitchers Junior Guerra, Wei-Chung Wang and Brandon Woodruff. Those four had been with Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs.

Woodruff, who pitched very well in three games last month, will get the start on Saturday against the Washington Nationals.

Also coming to the big leagues is pitcher Taylor Williams, who was in Double-A with the Biloxi Shuckers. It will be Williams’ MLB debut.

Earlier on Friday, Milwaukee announced it had reinstated pitcher Brent Suter and catcher Andrew Susac from the 10-day disabled list.

All the players involved were already on the team’s 40-man roster, meaning they didn’t have to make any further moves to accommodate the new additions.

The Crew is in a tight playoff race as the regular season enters its final full month. As of Friday afternoon, the Brewers were 2 1/2 games back of Colorado for the second wild card spot and 3 1/2 games back of Chicago in the NL Central.

Milwaukee will continue its series with the Nationals Friday at Miller Park. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.

Brett Phillip’s bounce back season continues

Brett Phillips was the prized possession of the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline deal with the Houston Astros. The trade sent Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Astros in exchange for Phillips, Domingo Santana, Josh Hader, and Adrian Houser.

The Brewers had high expectations for Phillips, but it was Santana and Hader who continued to succeed after the trade. Santana made it to the big leagues with the Brewers at the end of the 2015 season and has been on the roster ever since. Hader climbed the ranks as one of the Brewers top pitching prospects before graduating to the bullpen this summer.

Phillips was once thought of as a top-5 prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, but has since fallen out of the top-10, and ranks 12th. He struggled in Double-A with the Brewers affiliate after being traded. He also had the worst season of his minor league career the next year in Double-A. In 2016, he batted a career worse .229 and struck out 154 times. Phillips was nagged by injuries all season long.

Phillips entered this season in Triple-A and was finally completely healthy. He is having a breakout season this year, and it even got him two stints with the Milwaukee Brewers at the major league level. Phillips is currently hitting .318 with 17 home runs and 71 RBIs. He’s also hit 22 doubles and 10 triples to go along with his production. The Brewers organization is most impressed with his decreased strikeout rate. He has cut his strikeout rate over three percent this season and has shown a better eye at the plate.

Phillips is one of two players in all of minor league baseball who has double-digit doubles, triples, home runs, and outfield assists. Fans should expect to see him called back up in September for September call-ups.

What this Brewers offense is missing

The Brewers have undoubtedly played better than anyone expected this season, and are still in the hunt for the National League Central title. This has lead to Brewers general manager David Stearns making some moves to sure up the Milwaukee bullpen, which emerged as the team’s weakest unit.

The team has struggled since the All-Star break going 9-14 in that time. The starting pitching has been relatively good all season, and the bullpen has made strides as of late. What is really plaguing the Brewers is the fact that the offense isn’t hitting home runs and not scoring runs in general.

David Stearns mentioned how he would continue to look at every option available to improve this ball club. I’m sure he’ll continue to scour the waiver wire and look to make deals during the waiver trade deadline.  He could also continue to bring up younger players from the minor league in hopes of a spark. Which might not really happen until September.

Lewis Brinson and Brett Phillips are two highly touted prospects, but both have shown that the Brewers need to be patient with their progression as they’ve both struggled in their limited time at the big league level.

There has been a lot said lately about how the Brewers have struggled to score runs especially when they aren’t hitting home runs. That is true, but the team is struggling to even get on base at the same time. What I think this Brewers team is missing is a true lead-off hitter. Jonathan Villar was the Brewers lead-off man for most of last season, but he has been anything but productive so far this season.

Villar is hitting .216 this season with 8 home runs and 32 RBIs. He does have 20 stolen bases, but has shown a lack of concentration on the bases too many times in his career. He has also struck out 111 times this season, which is over 34% of his at-bats. His on-base percentage of .276 is terrible for a traditional lead-off hitter. He has also committed 11 errors this season, which doesn’t help his case.

Eric Sogard has also seen quite a bit of time in the lead-off spot since mid-May. He was fitting the role nicely up until he went on the disabled list just before the All-Star break. Since returning to the lineup a little more than two weeks ago, he has really struggled. Since July, Sogard is a combined 3-39 for a batting average of .077 during that time period. The Brewers have to monitor his playing time because he is coming off of knee reconstruction surgery.

The Brewers don’t really have many other options. Eric Thames and Domingo Santana have seen some time at the top of the order, but Craig Counsell and the Brewers would prefer them lower in the order. Keon Broxton has also gotten starts in the lead-off spot, but has struck out at too high of a clip to be a good candidate for the position. The Brewers could try Orlando Arcia at the top spot in the order, but Craig Counsell seems content with batting him in the seventh or eighth spot.

Without a consistent lead-off hitter, the Brewers offense will continue to struggle as long as they aren’t hitting the long ball. For my money, I’d pull the trigger on calling up top prospects Lewis Brinson and/or Mauricio Dubon and let them find their swings at the major league level.

 

 

 

 

Brewers make first move post-trade deadline, recall Keon Broxton from Triple-A

The Brewers made their first roster move since yesterday’s trade deadline. Milwaukee recalled Keon Broxton from Triple-A Colorado Springs, he was previously sent down on July 22nd after having a mediocre first-half of the season. Broxton was also sent down to make room for Eric Sogard, who returned from the disabled list after suffering an ankle injury.

Broxton was hitting .218 with 14 home runs and 38 RBIs for the Brewers. The biggest concern with Broxton was his inability to put the ball in play. He had a lot of swings and misses, and was striking out at a clip of 38% of his at-bats. The Brewers have since used multiple players in center field. Prized prospects Lewis Brinson and Brett Phillips have had opportunities to play in center in the absence of Broxton. Both have shown improvement in their second stint in the major leagues.

In seven games in Triple-A,  Broxton was hitting .385 with one home run and seven RBIs, he also stole four bases. He will be taking the spot of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who the Brewers designated for assignment a day after selecting his contract from Triple-A. The Brewers are hoping Broxton found his swing in the ten days he spent in the minor leagues.

Lots of talk surrounding the early exit of Lewis Brinson from last night’s game

David Stearns and the Milwaukee Brewers pulled the trigger on another trade last night. The Brewers acquired Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak. The Brewers in return sent the number 17th ranked prospect in the organization, outfielder, Ryan Cordell to the White Sox. Swarzak will be a rental player, as his contract is up at the end of the year.

In the first inning of the Triple-A Colorado Springs game, Lewis Brinson was pulled from the game before his first at-bat. A report from Jon Heyman cited that Brinson was headed to the big leagues, and wasn’t part of a trade. This sent the social media world into a frenzy, and had lots of people theorizing what the Brewers corresponding move would be.

Some wondered if Braun could be part of potential trade talks or could have reaggravated one of his prior injuries from this season. Others thought maybe Brett Phillips could be in trade talks after he has become more comfortable with the bat at the Major League level in the past couple weeks. Could it also be Brinson’s Triple-A numbers forcing the issue? Brinson is slashing .345/.417/.569 in Colorado Springs. He also has 10 home runs and 43 RBIs in 68 games this season.

According to Brewers beat writer, Tom Haudricort, David Stearns wouldn’t confirm the Lewis Brinson call-up, but did say that Ryan Braun isn’t injured. He also mentioned how he would continue to explore trade options for every area of the team. He did confirm that there would be more news later today. Something is in the works here. Maybe another trade? Maybe a demotion? We’ll have to wait and see what The Milwaukee Brewers decide to do later today and for the rest of July.

Brewers moves: Sogard in, Broxton out

Second baseman Eric Sogard is back and centerfielder Keon Broxton is out.

Those were the transactions announced Saturday by Milwaukee, which is in the midst of a season-worst six-game losing streak.

Sogard had been on the disabled list with an ankle injury since early July. Before that, the 31-year-old had been one of the pleasant surprises for Milwaukee. He spent all last year in the minor leagues, but when he got called up in April, he was great, batting .331 in 43 games, with three home runs and 14 RBIs.

Broxton, meanwhile, has been in a major funk at the plate, and that’s the reason he was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs. In the month of July, the 27-year-old went 3-for-45 with one home run. For the season, his average had dipped to .218.

Brett Phillips is likely to take over on a regular basis in centerfield.

Milwaukee will take on Philadelphia on Saturday night.

Nick Williams helps Phillies avoid sweep at Miller Park

MILWAUKEE — While the Milwaukee Brewers were poised for a weekend sweep coming out of the All Star break, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Nick Williams had other plans.

Williams hit his first career grand slam in the sixth inning to put the Phillies over the top by a score of 5-2. Combined with a win by the Chicago Cubs, it also knocked the Brewers’ lead in the National League Central down to 4 ½ games.

The Phillies’ opportunity was set up by some timely hitting, as they strung together five hits in a row before Williams stepped to the plate. On Milwaukee’s end of things, it was not the debut Tyler Webb wanted, as his very first pitch was blasted by Williams 411 feet to center field.

In hindsight, perhaps Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell wouldn’t have introduced Webb to Philadelphia in that situation. Matt Garza was taken out after five innings of one-run ball and replaced by Rob Scahill, who surrendered three consecutive hits. But that was a gamble Counsell felt was reasonable, given the lack of offense his crew was able to muster to that point. Pinch-hitting Brett Phillips in Garza’s place did result in the outfielder’s first career home run.

Milwaukee would get a chance to erase the 5-2 deficit in the ninth inning after Hernan Perez and Manny Piña singled to bring the tying run to the plate. But Philadelphia closer Hector Neris was able to retire Stephen Vogt, Orlando Arcia, and Eric Thames to secure the win.

Brewers: Recently Promoted Prospects

The Milwaukee Brewers have recently called up three of their top-10 Minor League prospects in the past week. The players that the Brewers called up were outfielders Brett Phillips and Lewis Brinson, as well as pitcher Josh Hader. Each guy has been thrusted into the Brewers lineup shortly after arriving from Colorado Springs. These three prospects may have been recalled earlier than the Brewers organization may have wanted, but with all the injuries at the Major League level they had no choice. Fans should undoubtedly be excited to see these young players, but shouldn’t expect these guys to come in and take the league by storm.

Lewis Brinson

Brinson was called up by the Brewers only a day ago due to the Brewers having to put Jonathan Villar on the disabled list. He batted lead off for Milwaukee in his Major League debut Sunday afternoon against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Brinson went 0-2 on the day, but did show great patience, working two walks and showing  his great speed by stealing a base.

Brinson is a 23 year old outfielder, who was a former first-round draft pick by the Texas Rangers in 2012.  He was one of three players the Rangers traded to the Brewers in the Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress deal. Brinson is the Brewers top prospect according to most experts. He is a player that many scouts believe could have a 5-tool ceiling.  Brinson is a very athletic player who has power, speed, as well as a good arm and solid defense in his arsenal. Many scouts believe Brinson could one day  become a 30 home run 30 stolen bases type player. Since being drafted, Brinson has really improved his pitch recognition and has become more consistent with his patient approach.

Before being promoted to the Major League club, he was hitting .312 with six home runs and 25 runs batted in. He also added 41 runs and seven stolen bases in 45 games played for Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Josh Hader

Hader was called up just one day before Lewis Brinson. He made his Major League debut Saturday night in the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He started the seventh inning struggling to find the strike zone as he walked his first two batters. Hader settled down after that as he ended his lone inning of work striking out Jacob Lamb, who’s leading Major League baseball in the  runs batted in category.

Hader is a 23 year old left-handed pitcher, who was originally drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and then traded to the Houston Astros. He was apart of the trade that sent Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Astros, while the Brewers got  Domingo Santana, Brett Phillips, Adrian Houser, and Hader.  Hader is currently the Brewers number three rated prospect.  Hader has electric stuff as he consistently throws a mid-90’s fastball and also features a nasty slider. The key for Hader will be to prefect  and improve his changeup, which will give him three good pitches. Many scouts believe his ceiling could be that of an ace if he consistently controls and commands his three pitches.

Since being called up to Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2016, Hader has struggled due to his control and elevated pitch counts. Colorado Springs is also a hitters friendly park due to the altitude and thin air.  In Triple-A this season Hader posted a 3-4 record with an ERA of 5.37 in 12 games. He also struck out 51 batters in 52 innings of work. A change in scenery could be just what the doctor ordered for Hader who has struggled in Colorado Springs, but has the stuff to become an ace.

Brett Phillips

Phillips was the first to be called up by the Brewers in this wave of prospects. He has appeared in five games and started two sine his promotion. He is currently hitting .200, going 2-10 in his first ten career at-bats. Phillips has always been a guy who strikes out at a high rate, as he was striking out 35% of the time in Triple-A. In a small sample size with the Brewers, he is striking out at an alarming rate of 70%. 

Phillips is also a 23 year old  outfielder. He was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. Like Hader, Phillips was apart of the deal with Houston that sent Gomez and Fiers to the Astros. Phillips comes in as the Brewers tenth best prospect this season. He is known for his great arm strength and defense as well as his power bat.  Many scouts believe that Phillips has a ceiling of a dynamic top-of-the-order hitter. He was the prized prospect in that trade a couple of summers ago, but has struggled since due to injury. This is the first season that Phillips has been completely healthy and it’s showing.

In 49 games with Colorado Springs, he was batting .297 with 11 home runs and 41 runs batted in. He also added 35 runs and 4 triples. Even with his high strikeout rate, Phillips had a .369 on base percentage due to his good eye and discipline at the plate.

 

Brewers fall to Giants in Phillips’ debut

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers outfield prospect Brett Phillips made his Major League debut Monday night, but it came in a 7-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

Junior Guerra held the Giants to two runs (one earned) over five innings, scattering seven hits. But bullpen struggles once again doomed the Crew, as five runs crossed the plate over the final two innings.

“Tonight was a night we didn’t do a good enough job offensively, but we certainly have to get some guys getting some outs down there,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Rob [Scahill] was a pitch away from getting out of the inning, but that’s a big spot, and a spot where you’ve got to make a pitch.”

Counsell was referring to the bases-loaded double from former Brewers Aaron Hill in the eighth inning. Milwaukee’s offense was stifled by San Francisco starter Jeff Samardzija, who went 7.2 innings, striking out 10 batters and allowing just a single earned run on seven hits.

One of those hits allowed was to Phillips, who was called up from Triple A Colorado Springs earlier in the day to replace Travis Shaw (paternity leave). The 23-year-old finished 1-for-3 at the plate with an up-and-down performance on defense. He gunned down Denard Span on an attempted double, but also dropped a fly ball in the eighth inning.

“If I could, I would trade the base hit and throwing the guy out [for a win], but that’s the game of baseball,” Phillips said. “You’ve got to come back tomorrow and go out there and play hard.”