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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Another tough week is in the books for the Rattlers, who dropped five out of their six contests (with yesterday’s game being delayed due to inclement weather). It was a tough week for the pitching staff, who gave up totals of 15 runs and 13 runs in separate games. The T-Rats have now been outscored by 137 runs on the season, as their offense is the worst in the league averaging 3.45 runs per game while their pitching has been second worst with a 4.35 ERA. Now sitting at 29-59 on the season, the Timber Rattlers boast the league’s worst record are 28 games back of the division leading Quad Cities River Bandits.
This week saw another major leaguer come through Appleton on rehab assignment. The injured Wily Peralta, recovering from a lat strain, took the mound for a start on July 11th against Beloit. Wily pitched to ten batters, allowing two hits and a run while finishing 2.2 innings. Peralta struck out four opposing hitters and induced five ground balls (on six balls in play). Peralta’s stay in the Midwest League was brief, however, as he is slated to make a start in AA Biloxi this week. Peralta will likely make at least one more addition rehab start, and he should rejoin the major league rotation sometime around the end of the month.
C Carlos Leal
It was another great week overall for Leal, who has been out “Who’s Hot Hitter” now two weeks in a row. The former 34th round draft pick turned the big 24 yesterday, and he celebrated all week long by posting a stellar .400/.444/.480 batting line in 27 plate appearances. Carlos drove in six runs while two of his ten hits went for extra bases. Leal has been hitting the ball hard all season long, boasting an incredible 30% line drive rate. The Midwest League All-Star raised his team leading OPS another 17 points last week and is now hitting .322/.384/.422 on the year and has thrown out 31% of runners attempting to steal. Perhaps the time has come for this young catcher to take his talents to the (more age appropriate) Florida State League.
RHP Cody Ponce
The 21 year old Ponce immediately became one of my favorite prospects after the Brewers chose him in the second round in this year’s draft, and he has done nothing to temper expectations thus far. After a quick promotion to Appleton, the big righty has continued to look dominant on the mound. He pitched in one game last week, collecting his first career save after a scoreless 3.0 inning appearance on July 10th. Ponce gave up only two hits and struck out three. Cody has yet to allow a run and has only allowed five baserunners through his first 7.0 innings for the Timber Rattlers, and boasts an incredible 72.7% ground ball rate at all levels this season. If Ponce can continue this dominance, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him rise quickly through the Brewers’ system.
C Greg McCall
The Brewers selected McCall in the ninth round of the 2014 MLB draft, and he put up a promising .786 OPS in rookie league Helena last season. Unfortunately, that success has not carried over into this season. Splitting time behind the plate with Carlos Leal, the 23 year old McCall hasn’t been able to get into a rhythm at the plate all season long. After getting only one hit in nine plate appearances last week, McCall is now hitting just .247/.304/.293 on the season, with only eight extra base hits in 192 plate appearances. McCall has thrown out 29% of base stealers this year, but for a player who is more than a year and a half older than league average, there is little room for optimism in what has been a tough 2015.
RHP Jon Perrin
The Brewers selected Perrin in the 27th round of this year’s draft, and like Cody Ponce, he was quickly promoted to the Timber Rattlers. Unlike Ponce, however, Perrin has struggled to find his groove thus far. Jon took the loss in his only start last week, lasting just an inning on July 8th against Kane County while allowing eight earned runs (including a home run). In two starts in Appleton, Perrin has pitched to a 17.47 ERA. The 22 year old hasn’t struggled with walks, however, and boasts a 63% ground ball rate while being stung for a ridiculous .500 BABIP. These factors lead me to expect improved results from Perrin going forward.
Player to Watch
1B Alan Sharkey
In a playful hat tip to the popular television phenomenon, the Timber Rattlers have declared this week “Sharkey Week” in honor of their 21 year old first baseman. Sharkey struggled a bit over the past week, but has put together a strong .786 OPS over the last 28 days. Sharkey has yet to hit much in his minor league career, but if he can continue to turn the corner offensively it would greatly improve the system’s depth at first base, one of the Brewers’ weakest positions.
After yesterday’s rain-out (which won’t be resumed until August), the Timber Rattlers return home to Appleton to host the Quad Cities River Bandits, the league’s best team at 56-30. After that quick three game home stand wraps up on the 17th, the Rattlers go on the road to face the Kane County Cougars (51-35) for three games then head to Cedar Rapids to take on the Kernels (52-36). 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.