Milwaukee Brewers Pacific Coast League Standouts

stevenjewell
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The Colorado Springs Sky Sox season has come to an end, with the team posting an underwhelming 62-81 record. Infielder Luis Sardiñas and catcher Nevin Ashley were added to the Big League club after the Sox closed up shop for the season.

Part of the team’s struggles no doubt stemmed from such call-ups earlier in the year, as most of the Sky Sox top performers were rapidly brought on to assist the Brewers. We will briefly look at these players, with a more in-depth look at the players who did not get called up early.

Another significant hindrance was the Sky Sox’s home field, which is one of the least pitcher-friendly parks in the nation. The team’s ERA was the third worst in the league, at 5.01, as was the team’s walk rate (3.7 per 9 innings) and K/BB ratio (1.93).

Despite their home confines, the Sox offense still managed to hit just 80 home runs, second worst in the league.

Best of the early call-ups:

1B Jason Rogers

Age: 27 || B/T: R/R

Rogers began the year with the Sky Sox, and returned there after early struggles in the Majors. With the AAA club, the first baseman slashed .344/.449/.607 with eight homers in 147 plate appearances. Since his second Big League call-up, Rogers has a 17.9 BB% and a .462 OBP.

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UT Elian Herrera

Age: 30 || B/T: B/R

Similar to Rogers, Herrera has bounced between MLB and AAA, hitting just about everything in the latter. With Colorado Springs, Herrera slashed .357/.413/.490 in 233 PA. Also like Rogers, Herrera has been better since his second call to the Majors, being just about average with the bat, which is more than most would ask of a utility guy.

OF Shane Peterson

Age: 27 || B/T: L/L

Peterson emerged early as a fourth outfield option after slashing .320/.387/.523 with seven home runs in 194 PA in AAA to begin the year. He has recently lost time to Domingo Santana, but could start in center next year, as Khris Davis could be traded, and Peterson has more defensive chops than Santana.

Best of the full-season players:

1B Matt Clark

Age: 28 || B/T: L/R

If the season had ended after July, Clark would be looking at a very disappointing AAA campaign, after he faded fast from a strong May. Instead, Clark posted a 1.090 OPS in August, and a 1.450 OPS in his seven-game September.

After walking just three times in July, Clark walked 23 times in August, which contributed to Clark’s best walk rate since 2012. He finished with a .291/.367/.492 slash in 548 PA. Clark also hit his 20th home run in the final game of the season, reaching that number for the seventh consecutive season, between the minor leagues and Japan.

As Clark was not called upon to join the club to finish out the Major League season, one must wonder if Clark has any future in the Brewers organization. There is no one currently knocking on the first base door at AAA, but Garrett Cooper and/or Nick Ramirez could bid to replace Clark soon.

C Nevin Ashley

Age: 31 || B/T: R/R

Readers of the weekly/monthly AAA updates will be familiar with Ashley, as will fans who tuned in to see the 31-year-old tally his first Big League hit after 10 years in the minors. Ashley’s call-up was more than a publicity stunt, though, as the journeyman slashed .306/.374/.442 in 381 PA with Colorado Springs, while throwing out one-third of baserunners.

Ashley’s up-and-down offensive seasons were likely the cause of his extended stay in the minors, as he is a solid, if now aging, defender. If he were just a few years younger he could be seen as basically the only catching prospect the Crew has.

Ashley does seem like he would make a good number two option at catcher for a team for the next few years, but right now, the Brewers can’t make much use of him.

One pitcher:

RP Jaye Chapman

Age: 28 || B/T: R/R

Chapman joined the Sky Sox largely due to some major luck, posting a 0.82 ERA in 22 innings with Biloxi, despite a 3.80 FIP. He was better all-around in Colorado Springs, where his ERA (3.16) seemed a more accurate representation of his performance (3.04 FIP).

With Colorado Springs, Chapman both cut his walk rate (2.74 per 9 innings) and improved his strikeout rate (9.70 per 9), while saving 15 games for the team. Between AA and AAA, Chapman allowed a slash line of just .219/.285/.329, with a .284 BABIP.

Things may have changed for Chapman since scouts actually wrote about him, but he is reportedly in possession of a strong changeup, while a fringy fastball and slider kept him from being much of a prospect. Chapman could be worth a look in the offseason and in Spring Training as a middle reliever, but don’t expect a closer to emerge.

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