2020 Brewers non-roster spring training capsules
The Milwaukee Brewers will have 20 non-roster players at spring training this season — in 2018 they brought in 15 – including a second baseman named Keston Hiura. Among the 20 this year are some prospects getting their first taste of the majors while others are veterans hoping for another chance. Don’t discount these guys — among last year’s non-roster spring training camp players, besides Hiura, pitchers Deolis Guerra and Burch Smith were with the big club at some point during the season.
Here’s a look at each of this year’s 20 invitees to Milwaukee’s camp.
LHP Clayton Andrews
The former 17th-round pick in 2018 is a favorite of our in-season Young Brewers Tracker for two reasons: 1. He’s only 5-foot-6; 2. He also plays the outfield. Andrews is listed just as a pitcher on Milwaukee’s spring training roster, but, hey, you never know. The diminutive left-hander has moved up through the Brewers’ system in two short years, splitting his time in 2019 between Single-A Carolina and Double-A Biloxi. At Carolina he had a 3.86 ERA, 1.214 WHIP and 14.1 K/9 while at Biloxi he posted a 2.59 ERA, 1.085 WHIP and 9.5 K/9. In his 58 minor-league games, Andrews has a 1.061 WHIP (6.4 H/9) and 12.8 K/9. With just a small taste at Double-A, it’s hard to see Andrews beginning the year in Milwaukee, but perhaps down the line he’d be an option. (Side note: Andrews has slashed .333/.391/.381 in 74 career minor-league plate appearances.)
INF Andres Blanco
The veteran infielder was signed shortly after it was learned infielder Luis Urias would be lost for 6-to-8 weeks following surgery on his left hand. Blanco, 35, has 536 games of major-league experience but has not played in the bigs since 2017, with Philadelphia. Blanco has experience in all of the infield and is a career .256/.310/.378 hitter. His best season came in 2015 – also when he had a career-high 261 plate appearances – with the Phillies when he hit .292/.360/.502. Blanco has played in Triple-A the past two seasons. In 2019 he batted .262/.364/.443 with 19 home runs for Atlanta’s affiliate in Gwinnett.
RHP Zack Brown
Brown followed up a stupendous 2018 season with a horrendous 2019. Pitching for Triple-A San Antonio, he recorded a 5.73 ERA and 1.731 WHIP in 25 games. Hitting numbers were up (and as a result, pitcher’s ERAs) in Triple-A last year so perhaps the Brewers still see something in the 2016 fifth-round pick who had a 2.44 ERA and 1.042 WHIP with Biloxi in ’18, when he was named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year.
OF Keon Broxton
Yes, Broxton, who played for the Brewers between 2016-18, is back. Milwaukee dealt Broxton to the New York Mets last January (receiving reliever Bobby Wahl and two minor leaguers). He was then traded to Baltimore in late May and waived by the Orioles two months later and claimed by Seattle. In all, he had 228 plate appearances in 100 games in 2019 but hit a paltry .167/.242/.275 with 10 steals (and was caught six times). In 269 games with Milwaukee, Broxton hit .222/.314/.422 with 33 homers and 49 steals. Speedy, a good defender and possessing some pop in his bat, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Broxton in Milwaukee at some point in 2019.
RHP Jesus Castillo
Castillo, who turns 25 in late August, was signed by Arizona as a 16-year-old and traded the following year to the Chicago Cubs, who in turn dealt him to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 1, 2016 for reliever Joe Smith. Castillo spent the last two years at Double-A Mobile. He pitched in 38 games, with 12 starts, in 2019, owning a 2.71 ERA, 1.264 WHIP and 7.2 K/9. Castillo has walked fewer than three batters per nine innings in each of the last four seasons. He’s never pitched above Double-A and spring training will offer the Milwaukee brass a good look at what they have. Castillo currently is assigned to Triple-A San Antonio.
3B Lucas Erceg
The former second-round pick in 2016 gets his second straight big-league camp invite although he struggled in 2019. Playing for Triple-A San Antonio – his first full year at that level – Erceg hit just .218/.305/.398 with 15 home runs. He’s never quite flashed the bat that was expected of him, owning a career minor-league slash line of .258/.319/.421.
RHP Jake Faria
Acquired by the Brewers from Tampa Bay for Jesus Aguilar, Faria pitched 8 2/3 innings over nine games for Milwaukee and was pounded for 18 hits and 12 runs (11 earned). He also pitched 7 2/3 in San Antonio and allowed two runs on eight hits and five walks with eight strikeouts. Faria was designated for assignment in January but went unclaimed and was outrighted back to San Antonio. Milwaukee hopes he can rekindle some of the magic from his 2017 season when he had a 3.43 ERA, 1.177 WHIP and 8.7 K/9 in 86 2/3 innings for the Rays.
C Mario Feliciano
As we note every year, teams need to bring in extra catchers to handle all the pitchers who are in camp. For Feliciano, though, this could be a nice reward for his 2019 season, in which he was named the Carolina League’s MVP after hitting .273/.324/.477 with 19 home runs in 116 games – which he did at age 20. Feliciano got a taste of Double-A (three games) as well and at just 21 years old (22 in November) undoubtedly will get more seasoning before being on the major-league radar.
C Tuffy Gosewisch
The veteran – he’ll turn 37 in August – was in Brewers’ camp last season but never got the call to the majors, where he last played in 2017 for Seattle (11 games). He also has MLB experience with Arizona, where he played from 2013-16. Gosewisch appeared in 48 games for Triple-A San Antonio in 2019 and hit just .205/.299/.308. He did throw out 6 of 18 (33.3%) attempted basestealers, which is just around his major-league average of 35%. If Milwaukee wants a veteran on-hand with the big club at some point in 2020, Gosewich is the guy.
RHP Justin Grimm
Grimm appeared in 306 MLB games from 2012-18 for Texas, the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City and Seattle. He spent all of last season in Triple-A with in both the Dodgers and Reds organizations, compiling a 5.51 ERA and 1.454 WHIP – but with 11.6 K/9 – in 65 1.3 innings. Grimm’s best season came in 2015 with the Cubs when he had a 1.99 ERA, 1.148 WHIP and 12.1 K/9. In his career, he has a 4.98 ERA, 1.402 WHIP and 9.1 K/9.
C Payton Henry
The former sixth-round pick in 2016 spent all of last season with Feliciano at Single-A Carolina. He didn’t have the offensive year like his cohort – batting .242/.315/.395 with 14 HR in 121 games, but he did throw out 38% of attempted basestealers. He was at 44% in 2018 at Low-A Wisconsin. Again, he’s a body for camp. Don’t expect to see him in Milwaukee in 2020.
RHP Thomas Jankins
A 16th-round pick in 2016, Jankins has moved up a level every year he’s been in the Brewers’ organization. He made 23 appearances, with 21 starts, for Triple-A San Antonio in 2019, posting a 2.19 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. While not a strikeout artist (6.4 K/9 in 2019 and 6.6 in 2018 in Double-A), Jankins has walked just 2.2 batters per nine innings over his minor-league career. He’ll turn 25 in July.
RHP Shelby Miller
Injuries have derailed the once-promising career of Miller, who finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2013 after he went 15-9 with a 3.06 ER, 1.206 WHIP and 8.8 K/9 for St. Louis. Since 2016, he’s appeared in 48 games with a 6.89 ERA and 1.749 WHIP, including 8.59 and 1.977 in 19 games (44 innings) with Texas in 2019. Signed by the Brewers in July, Miller pitched briefly for Triple-A San Antonio – making five starts (20 2/3 innings, 13 R (11 ER), 17 H, 16 BB, 20 K) – before being released in late August. Milwaukee gave Miller a second chance, re-signing him a couple of weeks ago.
RHP Mike Morin
From 2014-19, Morin made at least 47 appearances in the big leagues with the exception of 2018, when he mainly pitched in Triple-A. Morin pitched in 52 games last season – 23 with Minnesota and 29 in Philadelphia – finishing with a 4.62 ERA and 1.105 WHIP. He had only 4.4 K/9, although his career average is 7.7. Morin is another control pitcher, having a career 2.4 BB/9. He turns 29 in May and looks to be some right-handed reliever insurance.
1B Logan Morrison
As little as two years ago, LoMo cranked out 38 home runs for Tampa Bay. But he struggled in Minnesota in 2018 (.186/.276/.368 in 95 games) and got just 38 plate appearances, mainly as a pinch hitter, with Philadelphia in 2019, batting .200 with two homers. He did, though, hit .308/.369/.640 with 18 homers in 61 games at the Triple-A Level on the farm teams of the Yankees and Phillies. The left-handed hitting Morrison hits righties better than lefties, as expected. Perhaps he can beat out Justin Smoak (.208/.342/.406 in 2019) for playing time at first base.
UT Jace Peterson
Peterson spent last year shuttling back-and-forth between the majors and Triple-A with Baltimore, and that could well be his role with the Brewers. Peterson can play all over the infield and outfield and has some speed. He is, however, only a career .228/.314/.330 hitter in 508 major-league games with San Diego, Atlanta, the New York Yankees and Orioles. He hit .313/.398/.512 in 90 games at Triple-A in 2019.
RHP Drew Rasmussen
Rasmussen had Tommy John surgery which caused him to miss the 2018 season but the Brewers still made him a sixth-round pick that year. Making his pro debut in 2019, he split his time between Low-A Wisconsin (1 start), High-A Carolina (4 starts) and Double-A Biloxi (22 games, 18 starts). With the Shuckers, he had a 3.54 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 13.5 K/9 over 74 1/3 innings. Despite his limited experience, Rasmussen could be on a faster track than most as he’ll be 25 in July, having begun collegiately at Oregon State in 2015.
RHP Miguel Sanchez
Signed in 2016, Sanchez has worked up the Brewers’ chain and made 40 appearances (five starts) for Triple-A San Antonio in 2019. He had a 4.35 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 9.3 K/9. Don’t be fooled by the starts, Sanchez is a reliever – none of those starts lasted longer than 3 2/3 innings and he’s only had two other “starts” in his minor-league career. The Brewers had Sanchez pitch in the Arizona Fall League, so perhaps they see some potential for their 2020 bullpen.
LHP Ethan Small
This surely just a courtesy move to see last year’s first-round draft pick. Small pitched just 21 innings in 2019 after a full season with Mississippi State. He had little trouble at the lower levels, pitching three perfect innings at rookie ball (with five strikeouts) and allowing five runs – two earned – on 11 hits and four walks with 31 strikeouts in 18 innings at Low-A Wisconsin. Small turns 23 on Valentine’s Day, so we expect he’ll moved along as quickly as the results (and his health, knock on wood) allow.
RHP Aaron Wilkerson
Wilkerson should be somewhat familiar to Brewers fans as he’s pitched in 14 games, with three starts, over the past three years for Milwaukee. He has, however, not fared well in those 35 1/3 innings, recording a 6.88 ERA and 1.585 WHIP. Wilkerson has done well at the Triple-A level to earn promotions, though. In 2019 with San Antonio he had a 3.42 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 17 starts and in ’18 with Colorado Springs, a 2.49 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 15 appearances (12 starts). Arm-on-call status seems to be his likely role in 2020 once again.