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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It’s been a few weeks since our last Timber Rattlers update, and our young team has played some improved ball over that time (though it would be hard to be much worse). After going 8-11 over the past three weeks, the T-Rats sit at 21-43, 21 games back in the Midwest League’s Western Division. Over the course of the season, the Timber Rattlers have been outscored by 100 runs through 64 games, with their Pythagorean W-L of 21-43 perfectly matching their record.
The season hasn’t been without its bright spots, however. Two players have been named to the Midwest League All-Star team based on their strong starts to the season: C Carlos Leal and RHP Cy Sneed. Leal has come on strong this season after a failed conversion to pitcher upon being drafted in the 34th round in 2014, hitting .308/.365/.410 in 172 plate appearances. 12 of his 48 hits have gone for extra bases and he has thrown out 36% of runners attempting to steal on him this year. Sneed has posted a 2.62 ERA in a team-leading 65.1 innings this season, striking out 58 batters while walking just 16. Sneed has given up just a 18.4% line drive rate (per MLBFarm.com) and along with a solid 44.1% ground ball rate, Sneed has allowed only two home runs this season.
3B Dustin DeMuth
There might not be a better all-around hitter on the Rattlers this season than the 23 year old DeMuth. who has been especially scorching opposing pitchers over the past week. In 26 plate appearances, Dustin slashed .292/.346/.542 with a home run and three doubles. With an .891 OPS so far in June, DeMuth has seen his wRC+ rise all the way up to 124 on the season. He is now hitting .281/.368/.384 with four home runs and a 23.9% line drive rate in 2015. Given his advanced age and success so far this year, Dustin DeMuth shouldn’t be in Appleton too much longer.
RHP Devin Williams
Williams is the Brewers top ranked pitching prospect according to MLB.com, and he has been pitching like it in June. In three starts dating back to May 31, Devin has allowed just three runs in 16.2 innings, striking out 14 while walking five. Williams missed time earlier this year with injury, but after stumbling out of the gates now has a 3.95 ERA and a 47.4% ground ball rate on the year.
OF Monte Harrison
The Brewers were aggressive in sending #3 prospect Harrison to Appleton this year despite being just 19 years old, and the promising young outfielder has simply looked over matched this year. In 30 plate appearances in June, Monte has posted just a .143/.200/.250 line with nine strikeouts. With only a .493 OPS and 41.8% strikeout rate this season, the Brewers made the decision to reassign Harrison and fellow struggling 2014 draftee Jake Gatewood to rookie level Helena, a move similar to the one made they with Clint Coulter before his breakout 2014 season.
RHP David Burkhalter
Recently promoted to the #30 spot on the Brewers top prospect list, Burkhalter has been off his game during his last two appearances, both coming in relief. In his last six innings pitched, Burkhalter has given up six runs (two home runs), striking out five while posting a WHIP of nearly two. He has been inconsistent all season, posting six appearances with one or zero runs given up yet still managing just a 5.62 ERA in 41.2 innings.
Player to Watch
IF Tucker Neuhaus
Neuhaus is another Timber Rattler who missed time with injury to start the year, but the 20 year old has been one of the most consistent hitters on the team since returning to the lineup. Splitting time between second base and third base, the unranked prospect has hit .270/.340/.389 in 142 plate appearances, slugging 11 extra base hits and walking at just under a 10% clip. Neuhaus struggled in his first two minor league seasons after being drafted out of high school, but looks to finally be putting together a solid approach at the plate.
The Timber Rattlers are currently in the middle of a 12 game road trip, and will start a three game series against the Kane County Cougars (31-32) tonight. Upon the conclusion of that series, the Rattlers will take on the in-state rival Snappers (25-39) in Beloit this weekend, leading into the All-Star break. 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.