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 week got off to a promising start after the Rattlers won their first game against West Michigan, but Wisconsin wouldn’t collect another win until Saturday and went 2-4 on the week. Now sitting at 40-78 on the season, the T-Rats rank as the second worst team in the Midwest League, ahead of only the lowly Clinton LumberKings. Offense remains an issue for the Timber Rattlers, who scored only 17 runs total last week and have averaged a league worst 3.29 runs per game on the season. Despite improving pitching performances as the season has gone along, the Rattlers have been outscored by a total of 174 runs this season. Their Pythagorean W-L matches their record perfectly at 40-78.
SS Blake Allemand
Milwaukee’s 5th round pick in the 2015 draft, Allemand had gotten off to a slow start in Wisconsin after being promoted from Helena on July 1st. The switch hitting 22 year old was blistering hot last week, collecting 10 hits and a walk in 25 plate appearances while slugging his first professional home run on August 14th against the South Bend Cubs. Allemand collected 14 total bases and posted a 1.023 OPS during the week, raising his Timber Rattlers slash line to .252/.299/.307 in 41 games. The versatile infielder was considered a polished senior bat when the Brewers chose him out of Texas A&M this summer, and he’s starting to show the ability at the plate that he demonstrated during his hot start in Helena.
RHP Jon Perrin
Chosen by Milwaukee in the 27th round of this year’s draft, Perrin had a rough indoctrination to the Midwest League, giving up eight earned runs in his second appearance, a one inning start on July 8th. Lately, however, the righty has been one of the Timber Rattlers’ best pitchers: a 1.64 ERA over his last 22.0 innings pitched with 16 strikeouts and two walks. He pitched 9.0 innings across two appearances last week, allowing just two earned runs with a 6-1 strikeout to walk ratio. Altogether, Perrin now owns a 3.89 ERA and a tremendous 6.75 strikeout to walk rate as a member of the T-Rats, and he boasts a 51.3% ground ball rate on the season.
OF Omar Cotto
The switch hitting outfielder was passed over in this year’s draft, but the Brewers snapped him up as a free agent and he got off to a strong in Helena with a .779 OPS in 20 games. Things have not been so smooth since a promotion to Wisconsin on July 25th. Cotto collected just two hits in 19 at bats last week, striking out five times in six games. Cotto has seemingly hit a wall against low-A pitching, posting just a .138/.180/.190 slash with two extra base hits and three walks in 17 games, striking out 21 times in 64 plate appearances.
LHP Nathan Kirby
After a strong start to his pro career, Kirby ran into his first bit of adversity in his last start on August 14th against South Bend: 3.2 innings pitched, four hits, four earned runs, two walks, two strikeouts, and a hit batsmen. It was Kirby’s longest start as a professional, which is a positive after he had been eased into action following an injury discovered during his post draft physical. Nathan has induced an excellent 64.5% ground ball rate in 9.2 innings for the Timber Rattlers, and it’s far too early to have any genuine concerns about the 21 year old lefty.
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Player to Watch
RHP Cody Ponce
The Brewers 2nd round choice in this year’s draft continues to excel in Appleton, posting a scoreless, 4.0 inning save on Saturday against the Cubs. Ponce is an imposing figure on the mound, standing at 6’6″ and 240 pounds while running his fastball at hitters in the mid to upper 90s. Cody has posted a 1.29 ERA an even 28.0 innings for the Timber Rattlers since his debut on July 5th. The righty has struck out 24 batters against just six walks, has posted a WHIP of 1.00 and boasts a 56.3% ground ball rate. What’s not to like about the projectable 21 year old? Ponce is one of my favorite arms in the Brewers’ system, and he is showing the ability that could make him a quick riser through the minor leagues.
The Timber Rattlers enjoyed their fourth consecutive Monday off yesterday, but get their noses back to the grindstone tonight and start a week long road trip. The Rattlers board the bus to Davenport for a three game series against the league best Quad Cities River Bandits (75-42) before heading to Peoria for a weekend series against the Chiefs (64-53). 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.