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.
With the Midwest League All-Star Game taking place last week, the Rattlers have competed in only five contests since our last update, compiling a record of 2-3. They have been mired in last place just about all season, and the T-Rats now sit at a dismal 25-50 overall, 24.5 games back of the division leading Quad Cities River Bandits. The Timber Rattlers’ offense continues to flounder; the team was outscored 30-17 in their games this week and have now been outscored by 118 runs this season. The young T-Rats lineup collectively is ranked worst in the league in OPS, strikeout rate, runs per game, and total bases.
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That’s not to say there haven’t been any bright sides, however. RHP Cy Sneed was recently named to the Midwest League All-Star team on the strength of an outstanding first half season of work. In his first post-break start on the 28th, Sneed threw 6.0 innings of one-run ball against Clinton, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out six batters. That lowered Sneed’s ERA to 2.68 in 77.1 innings pitched, nearly a run below league average. His FIP of 2.78 is almost equally as strong as his sterling ERA, he has an outstanding 3.94-1 K:BB ratio this year, and he has allowed just two home runs all year with a 42.7% ground ball rate. A third round pick out of Dallas Baptist in 2014, the 22 year old Sneed has been rewarded for his breakout performance with a promotion to the high-A Brevard County Manatees. We wish Cy Sneed good luck at the next level!
CF Brandon Diaz
This is the second straight week Diaz has been our “hot hitter,” but he has been sizzling for awhile now. In four games last week, he posted an outstanding .400/.444/.600 line, putting together a 1.044 OPS in 18 plate appearances. He slugged a home run among his six hits, and Diaz now owns an .885 OPS and over the last four weeks of action. Diaz leads the team with 34 walks and 16 stolen bases and is tied for the team lead with six home runs. Diaz is currently unranked among Brewers’ prospects according to MLB.com, but the 20 year old raised his OPS all the way up to .707 after a slow start to the season, and has shown solid on base ability, good speed, and decent pop at each level since being drafted in the 8th round out of high school in 2013. Diaz will be an intriguing talent to keep an eye on as the farm system continues to progress.
RHP Devin Williams
Williams put together his best start of the season in his one appearance this week, pitching 6.0 shutout innings on the 27th against Clinton. The Brewers’ top pitching prospect gave up just two hits, walked one, and struck out seven batters while throwing 90 pitches (56 strikes). Since getting lit up for four runs in 3.0 innings on May 26th, Williams has allowed no more than two earned runs in any of his last six outings. Over the last four weeks, Devin has posted a 1.95 ERA while striking out three batters per every walk; he now owns a 3.12 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 39 strikeouts, 18 walks, 0 home runs, and a 47.9% ground ball rate in 43.1 innings pitched this season despite being nearly two years younger than league average.
OF Elvis Rubio
The Brewers signed Rubio as an internation 16 year old in 2011, with 2015 being his first season in Appleton. Ice cold last week, Rubio went hitless in 16 plate appearances, drawing two walks and posting a .000/.125/.000 battling line with five strikeouts. The season as a whole has been a struggle for the 20 year old, who has managed just a .593 OPS, 21.2% strikeout rate, and 18 extra base hits in 259 plate appearances this season.
LHP Tyler Linehan
This season has been a tough one for the 23 year old Linehan, and last week only further drove that point home. In two appearances on back-to-back days June 27th and 28th, Linehan allowed six earned runs while recording just five outs, giving up two hits and walking five of the 12 batters he faced. A 9th round pick in 2013, the lefty reliever now owns the highest ERA of any pitcher on the Timber Rattlers (minimum 10 innings pitched) at 6.75. He hasn’t allowed a home run, has a 58.2% ground ball rate and his 3.90 FIP says he’s had some bad luck this season, but Linehan will have to improve on a 6.0 BB/9 rate if he wants to have a future in the game.
Player to Watch
OF Khris Davis
Expectations were relatively high for the 27 year old Davis coming into the season, and his slow start mirrored the start that the Brewers experienced as a team. His bat found life in May, as he posted an .865 OPS with four homers, four doubles, and two triples in 25 games before suffering a torn meniscus while swinging during a game on May 30th. Davis’ recovery has been slower than expected, but the Brewers announced that he would be beginning a rehab assignment with Appleton starting Wednesday. This will be Khrush’s first return to Appleton since he posted an .897 OPS with a team record 22 home runs as a 22 year old in 2010, and Davis will be this week’s “player to watch” as he works himself back into game shape and a return to the Brewers this weekend.
The Timber Rattlers are currently in the middle of a three game series with the Cedar Rapids Kernels (43-32), which will conclude tomorrow and wrap up a seven game homestand. The Rattlers have two four-game “home and home” series upcoming; they will travel southwest to Beloit to play the Snappers (27-47) for two games before hosting them for two games on the 4th and 5th, and following that they will host the Kane County Cougars (40-33) for two before traveling to Illinois for the final two games against the Cougars. 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.