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.
The Rattlers endured another tough week since our last update, limping to a record of 2-4. Now sitting at 23-47 on the season, the T-Rats are mired deep in the Midwest League cellar. Within their division, they are 23 games back of the Quad Cities River Bandits. Wisconsin at least remained competitive in most of their games last week, with three of their four losses being by only one run. Having been outscored by 105 runs overall on the season (231 to 336), the Timber Rattlers perfectly match their Pythagorean W-L of 23-47.
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The week was highlighted by the annual Timber Rattlers vs. Beloit Snappers game at Miller Park, which took place on 6/19 (and I attended). Kodi Medeiros started for the T-Rats and flashed the dominant form that convinced the Brewers to draft him with their first round pick in 2014. The 19 year old lefty didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning, throwing his fastball consistently from 89-92 MPH and touching 94. His slider was as nasty as advertised, breaking sharply across the plate at 79-81 MPH. Kodi’s line ended up at: 5.2 innings, 1 H, 0 earned runs, 3 BB, 7 K (85 pitches), and he picked up his third win of the season. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee product Josh Uhen also threw 1.1 innings of scoreless relief, much to the delight of his own personal (and quite rowdy) cheering section. David Burkhalter struck out four over the final two innings to earn the save. CF Brandon Diaz slugged a home run while Alan Sharkey and Jose Pena added a double a piece as Wisconsin defeated in-state rival Beloit, 5-1.
CF Brandon Diaz
The righty swinging Diaz has torn the cover off the ball over the last week, abusing opposing pitchers to the tune of .333/.368/.556 in 20 plate appearances. He slugged a home run and a double among his six hits, and drove in four runs. The 20 year old has been hot for the better part of the last month, posting an .839 OPS with 10 walks and six extra base hits over the last four weeks. He is tied for the team lead with home runs (5) this season and leads the team with 32 walks, and he already has five outfield assists in 56 games played in 2015.
LHP Zach Hirsch
Hirsch made only one start last week, but he made it a good one. Against Kane County on the 18th, Hirsch pitched 8 complete innings, giving up just four hits and one run. He struck out four batters and walked zero. The soon to be 25 year old has quietly been having a stellar season for the Timber Rattlers despite missing a month with injury. In 8 starts, the 6’4″ lefty has pitched to a 2.68 ERA in 50.1 innings, striking out 34 batters while walking just five all season. Hirsch has generated a ridiculous amount of ground balls at 57.2%, and his 0.834 WHIP and 6.80 K:BB ratio are phenomenal as well. Still, Hirsch is more than two years older than league average and was a 19th round pick after his senior season as Nebraska, so it remains to be seen how viable of a prospect he is.
3B Sthervin Matos
The past week was a struggle for Matos, who posted a .176/.300/.235 line with just four hits and three walks in 20 plate appearances. The season as a whole has been trying for the 21 year old, who has managed just a .586 OPS and struck out in more than 20% of his plate appearances. He is tied with Diaz for the team lead with five home runs, so that is somewhat of a silver lining.
RHP Joshua Torres
Torres made his debut with team in May, this his first season in Appleton. He made only one appearances last week, facing four batter and recording zero outs against Beloit on the 21st, taking the loss. He allowed a hit and walked three, with one run crossing the plate. He has now given up seven runs (five earned) across his last two innings pitched, and he’s posted a 6.39 ERA in 24.1 innings this year.
Player to Watch
1B Alan Sharkey
The lefty hitting first baseman struggled to begin the year after missing the season’s first month, but has begun to heat up lately as his playing time has increased. He’s now hitting .227/.319/.294 in 35 games on the year, but has posted a decent .657 OPS with six walks and four extra base hits in his last 19 games. The 2012 13th round pick is still roughly half a season younger than league average at 21, and he’s looking to continue to build on his solid .768 OPS from last season in Helena.
The Timber Rattlers and the rest of the Midwest League are currently enjoying their four day All-Star Break. The All-Star game takes place tonight, and Wisconsin will be represented by pitcher Cy Sneed and catcher Carlos Leal (though Leal will now miss the game with injury). The T-Rats resume play Thursday with a seven game homestand that will feature series against the Clinton Lumberjacks (26-43) and the Cedar Rapids Kernels (41-29). 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.