Milwaukee Brewers MiLB Pitcher of the Year Race Heats Up

Jul 10, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; USA pitcher Josh Hader throws during the All Star Game futures baseball game at PetCo Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 10, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; USA pitcher Josh Hader throws during the All Star Game futures baseball game at PetCo Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Brewers have half a dozen candidates for their best minor league pitcher of the year.

Yesterday, I wrote that Isan Diaz essentially has the Brewers MiLB Player of the Year award locked down. Conversely, the Milwaukee Brewers MiLB Pitcher of the Year is anything but determined.

Let’s jump right into it with the second tier of pitchers. These guys have definite talent and have clearly displayed it this season, but for one reason or another, they fall short of the top tier.

The pitchers shown here are in alphabetical order; Marcos Diplan, Wei-Chung Wang, and Jordan Yamamoto.

Marcos Diplan was one of the best pitchers on a talented Wisconsin Timber Rattlers team to begin the year. Unfortunately, after a July promotion to High-A, his strikeout rate is down and his walk rate is up.

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An ERA north of 6.00 post-promotion has reduced Diplan’s chances at winning the award. Still, he remains one of the highest upside arms in the system, with undeniable strikeout ability.

Wei-Chung Wang continues to work his way through the Brewers system, again reaching AAA to early success. The only true knock on Wang is a lack of flair. That’s not a great way to evaluate talent, of course, but award winners typically have some flashy statistics.

Wang pitches well, and looks like he could slot into the back end of a Big League rotation, but he doesn’t separate himself from others on a stat sheet. He is more of a real-life talent than a stat-sheet warrior.

Jordan Yamamoto could have been in the first tier of this race had it not been for his terrible luck over the last two months. The young Hawaiian has a great 3.19 FIP (and more than 10 strikeouts per 9 innings) since June 13, but a 5.92 ERA thanks to a .385 BABIP.

And while I don’t particularly care to eliminate a player due to his bad luck, I imagine the real voters will. After all, ERA remains king. Yamamoto has had a sneakily great season, and is worth keeping an eye on.

Now on to the first tier, featuring Josh Hader, Jon Perrin, and Brandon Woodruff.

Clearly this race is incredibly close. Josh Hader has the outstanding strikeout numbers, and is pitching at the highest level of the minors. However, he also has a 5.30 ERA since joining the AAA Sky Sox, albeit with a solid 3.64 FIP.

Hader is just 22 years old, and is the highest rated pitcher in the Milwaukee Brewers’ farm system. He is also much improved lately, striking out 11.7 batters per 9 over his last four starts with a 3.63 ERA (2.36 FIP).

If he continues gain momentum in Triple-A, Hader has a real chance at taking home the Brewers MiLB Pitcher of the Year honors.

Jon Perrin is the flashiest of the contenders, thanks to his unbelievable start to the season. The then-22 year old began the year with the Timber Rattlers, posting an unbelievable 47:1 K:BB ratio in 36 innings. Perrin was promoted in May, and has been steadily improving in High-A since.

Like Hader, Perrin has been excellent recently, striking out 21 in his last three starts (22 innings) and walking none. His opponents have just a .485 OPS against him in that time. Perrin also has a complete game to his credit.

Unfortunately, age may diminish Perrin’s accomplishments in the eyes of voters, as he is quite old for High-A ball. Perrin has also logged around 100 innings in 2016 in the Florida State League, the most run-suppressing league in the minors.

Brandon Woodruff had a big lead over his peers for Pitcher of the Year honors before his recent earned run struggles. He was rolling from July 3 to August 8, striking out 52 and walking just five in 43 2/3 innings with a 0.41 ERA. In the two starts since, however, Woodruff has given up 11 earned runs in 10 innings.

Still, Woodruff struck out 10 and walked just three in that time for a 3.51 FIP and remains in the hunt.

Next: Brewers MiLB Player of the Year

Clearly, the race for the Milwaukee Brewers best minor league pitcher of 2016 remains incredibly close. Perrin brings top-shelf command. Hader brings electric strikeout numbers. Woodruff does a little of both. Maybe the winner will be decided by a (three-sided?) coin-toss at year’s end.