Milwaukee Brewers prospect Brandon Woodruff has a 1.83 ERA in his first six starts at Triple-A. Should the 24-year old right-hander be starting in Miller Park? Based on the results, the question about Woodruff no longer starts with ‘if’. It’s become, ‘when,’ as in “When will Brandon Woodruff make his Major League debut?”
What’s impressive about Brandon Woodruff isn’t what he’s doing. It’s where he’s doing it. Woodruff has made four of his six starts in Colorado Springs at Security Service Field, a notorious hitters park. In his home starts, he owns a 1.45 ERA. He’s enjoyed more success at home in the thin air of Colorado than on the road.
Woodruff also owns a 30:7 K:BB ratio in 34 1/3 innings of work. He’s only allowed two home runs in a the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. This is what it looks like when a prospect is telling the Major League team that he’s ready to make the jump from traveling on buses to traveling on airplanes in first class.
Woodruff started the year as a Top-10 prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers system. It’s safe to say that Lewis Brinson and Corey Ray should still be listed ahead of Woodruff, but is he the top pitcher in the Brewers system right now?
Josh Hader has struggled with command and may not be long for the starting rotation. Luis Ortiz has been awesome at Double-A, and appears to have a higher ceiling than Woodruff. Ortiz is probably the top pitching prospect in the Brewers system, but Woodruff is clearly the next in line for a job at the Major League level.
Job openings in the Milwaukee Brewers rotation aren’t as hard to come by as they appear. Zach Davies and Chase Anderson are locked in to rotation spots. Matt Garza will continue to start as long as he’s in a Brewers uniform. That leaves two spots.
Jimmy Nelson owns a 4.83 ERA, but his BB/9 is only 2.84 and he’s shown improved command this year. Wily Peralta got off to a fast start in April, but he’s watched his ERA balloon to 5.30. Peralta has the stuff to succeed at the Major League level, but it’s looking more and more like he might be better off coming out of the bullpen instead of starting.
If Peralta continues to struggle in a starting role, watch for the Brewers to shuffle him into the bullpen. Woodruff would be the likely replacement, and it looks like he’s going to be a long term solution.