Each week throughout the regular season, the staff at Reviewing the Brew will be bringing you a comprehensive minor league report about each of the Brewers’ affiliates. There isn’t much to write home about up at the big league level this season for the Brewers, but Milwaukee does have plenty of exciting prospects off to hot starts throughout their minor league system. The Brewers’ low-A affiliate, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (who play about an hour and a half north of Milwaukee) are no exception.
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The young Rattlers suffered through another tough week last week, dropping their last four in a row and five of their last seven to see their record fall to 8-17, ranking them last in the Western Division of the Midwest League. They are 11 games back of the league leading Quad Cities River Bandits. Over their past seven games, the T-Rats have been outscored 22-36, and they currently rank last in the league in terms of runs per game, posting an average of just 2.84 runs through the season’s first 25 games. The pitching hasn’t been much better, posting a cumulative ERA of 4.18, the third worst mark in the league. The team got a boost offensively by Brewers’ second baseman Scooter Gennett, who collected 15 plate appearances while on rehab assignment for his stitched up hand. Scooter collected four hits, including two doubles, striking out zero times while drawing a walk in four games. Gennett finished his rehab assignment yesterday, and should be back in Milwaukee today.
3B Tucker Neuhaus
Neuhaus, a soon to be 20 year old drafted in the second round in 2013, spent the first few weeks of the season dealing with injuries before making his return to the field last week. After struggling to a .619 OPS in his first 500 career plate appearances at rookie ball, Tucker has seen his bat come alive in his first week in Appleton. In 24 plate appearances, Neuhaus has collected eight hits, including four for extra bases. He’s hit one home run and driven in five while putting together an OPS of an even 1.000. He has yet to walk and has struck out in 29% of his plate appearances, but if Neuhaus can start developing as hoped when the Brewers made him a high draft, he could quickly become thought of as Milwaukee’s “3rd baseman of the future.”
RHP Milton Gomez
Gomez was signed by the Brewers as an international free agent, and this is his first year in a full-season league at the age of 21. Though he got off to a rough start to the year, Gomez has been much better over the past week, giving up just three earned runs in nine innings, covering two appearances. He was the winning pitcher in one of the Timber Rattlers’ two victories last week, striking out seven batters and lowering his ERA to 7.16 (this after giving up nine runs in a two inning appearance on the 18th). Gomez was a ground ball machine over the past week, inducing them at nearly a 49% clip, and though he has struggled a bit with his command in the early going, it hasn’t been a major problem for him to this point in his career.
SS Jake Gatewood
Gatewood, the Brewers’ pick at number 41 last season, has gotten off to a tough start to the season, posting just a .519 OPS though his first 18 games while clubbing just three extra base hits. The 19 year old was further set back last week when he suffered an ugly knee injury while moving to his right fielding a ground ball. Fortunately, Gatewood didn’t suffer any ligament damage and won’t require surgery, but is still expected to be out for an extended period of time as the team looks to bring him back slowly from the deep bruising he suffered in his knee. Jake is young enough and talented enough that this injury shouldn’t be a huge setback for his long term development, but it’s never ideal when one of your top prospects (ranked number five by MLB.com) gets hurt.
LHP Kodi Medeiros
On the hot list just a week ago, Kodi struggled this week, giving up seven earned runs in seven innings covering two appearances. He has walked five during that time (including four his last start) while striking out just 6, and took the loss to Quad Cities on May 3rd, dropping his record to 0-2. Medeiros still has yet to allow a home run and has continued to be a ground ball machine (47.4% GB rate) while striking out 26.8% of batters. As long as Medeiros can maintain control of his pitches as he did earlier in the year, he should be able to produce better results, and I wouldn’t worry about too much about a couple of bad appearances as long his his peripherals stay strong.
Player to Watch
OF Monte Harrison
When the Brewers selected Monte Harrison at number 50 in last year’s draft, they took a multi-sport athlete with tons of athleticism but who was still raw at the plate. While Harrison looked good in his rookie ball debut last season, the results couldn’t be any different this year. Harrison slashed just .105/.227/.105 over the past week, and has put together just a .520 OPS in 22 games so far this season. Harrison has looked totally over matched at the plate facing Midwest League pitchers that are an average of 2.4 years older than him. Monte struck out 12 times in 19 plate appearances last week, and he’s whiffed in over 47% of his plate appearances in 2015. Harrison is ranked number three among prospects in the system and may have the most upside of any of the Brewers’ farmhands, but he is still a long way from harnessing that potential.
The Timber Rattlers are currently in the midst of a three game set at home against the Cedar Rapids Kernels (14-11), having lost game one yesterday. Following the conclusion of that series, the Rattlers head to Quad Cities for a short three game road trip against the River Bandits before returning home for a six game home stand. Being just a relatively short drive north of Milwaukee, I recommend visiting TimberRattlers.com and getting tickets (as I already have) to catch some games for this exciting, young team this season.