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 hasn’t been much to write home about up at the big league level this season for the Brewers this season, but Milwaukee does have plenty of exciting prospects playing well 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 Timber Rattlers have had a rough go of it this season, though they were able to capture their first wins of the month of May during this past week. After going 2-5 since our last update, the Rattlers record has fallen to 10-28, leaving them 20 games back in the Midwest League’s Western Division. Wisconsin has struggled to score all season, averaging just 3.7 runs per game last week, which actually raised their league worst runs per game mark to 3.03 for the season. The Rattlers’ lineup is the third youngest collectively in the league, and it shows with their lack of disciple at the plate (28.2% strikeout rate as a team this year).
3B Dustin DeMuth
It seems like a weekly thing now to find DeMuth among the Rattlers’ hottest hitters, and the former Hoosier was scorching this week. In 17 plate appearances this week, DeMuth collected seven hits and three walks, driving in two runs while striking out just once. After a .500/.588/.500 week for the T-Rats first baseman, he’s raised his average to .304/.398/.383 on the season. Dustin leads the team in total bases (44), on-base percentage (.398), runs batted in (11), hits (35), is tied for the team lead with two home runs, and his OPS of .781 ranks second to Carlos Leal. DeMuth is starting to look like the player the Brewers hoped they were getting when he was drafted in the fifth round last year: an advanced collegiate bat with the chance to fast-track through the system. If DeMuth can keep up this torrid pace, expect to see the 23 year old in Brevard County come midseason.
LHP Kodi Medeiros
After a couple weeks of struggles, the Brewers’ first round pick from last season was able to right the ship with two strong appearances last week. In ten innings covering one start and one relief appearance, Medeiros gave up just four earned runs while striking out 14 batters, earning his first winning decision of the season against the Burlington Bees yesterday. Kodi still hasn’t given up a home run this season, and impressed last week with his 3.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio. At just 19, Medeiros should be expected to go through some growing pains, but he will become more dangerous as he continues to refine his top of the rotation type stuff.
C Carlos Leal
Despite possibly being the best story of the 2015 Timber Rattlers season, Leal struggled in his last week of play. The catcher turned pitcher turned catcher is currently leading the club with an .807 OPS, but managed only a .167/.333/.167 batting line in 15 plate appearances last week. Leal has managed to stay stellar behind the plate, however, throwing out 42% of potential basestealers this season. With the Brewers system thin on catchers with solid bats, Leal could be a player to watch if he can continue to vault himself into prospect status.
RHP Cy Sneed
Sneed has been the Rattlers best starter this season, however he was roughed up in his last start. Lasting just four innings in his last start against the Kane County Cougars, Sneed allowed eight runs on seven hits, though just four of those runs were earned. The Rattlers were blown out 12-2, dropping Sneed’s record to 1-5 on the season, although win/loss record for a pitcher doesn’t really mean much. Cy struck out just one batter but didn’t walk any. He has yet to give up a home run this season, though he gave up a season high 15 fly balls in his last start. Sneed’s poor start boosted his ERA by nearly a run, but he still leads the team with a 2.21 ERA and one bad start shouldn’t be much cause for concern.
Player to Watch
RHP Devin Williams
After beginning the season on the shelf with injury, the Brewers’ top rated pitching prospect (and #7 overall, according to MLB.com) finally reported to Appleton this past week. This is Williams’ first assignment to full season ball after being drafted in the second round in 2013, Milwaukee’s top pick that season. Devin looked solid in his season debut, a four inning start against Kane County this past Saturday. Though he gave up six hits, Williams yielded just two runs while striking out three batters and inducing ground balls to 47% of hitters. Most importantly, perhaps, is that Williams didn’t walk a single hitter, continuing the solid control he showed at Helena last season. Possessing “as much upside as any arm in the system,” Williams’ development this season will be one I will watch closely.
The Timber Rattlers started an 11 game road trip yesterday, which began in Burlington against the Bees (19-19) and will feature stops in Kane County (19-19) and Cedar Rapids (23-15) before the Rattlers return home at the end of the month. Wisconsin has been getting some better performances from their pitching staff, a trend that will need to continue if the team hopes to play some competitive games. 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.