This is the beginning of a series reviewing the seasons of the Milwaukee Brewers’ minor league affiliates. First up: the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate.
2017 was an outstanding year for the Milwaukee Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. After four straight seasons toiling below .500, the team produced a 80-57 record. This was the team’s best record since 1993. It was also good enough to capture the Pacific Coast League’s American Northern division title.
Colorado Springs Sky Sox 2017 Results
The season started off well, with the Sky Sox nabbing three games from the Omaha Storm Chasers to start the season. This helped propel them to a strong 13-6 record in the month of April.
May wasn’t particularly nice to the squad, as they finished the month with a 10-12 record in a grueling stretch of 22 games in 20 days. However, they turned things around over the summer. They ended the month of June with a six-game win streak and ultimately clinched the division on August 27.
Sadly, Colorado Springs didn’t last very long in the PCL playoffs. After staking a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-five series, they dropped two home games to the Memphis Redbirds to conclude the season.
Colorado Springs Sky Sox Offense
As is the case with most Minor League teams, there was a lot of tumult regarding the roster composition of the Sky Sox. The team’s top qualifying hitter was Garrett Cooper (.366/.428/.652), but he was traded to the Yankees early in the year. Interestingly, their next best batter was journeyman Ivan De Jesus Jr. He hit a blistering .345 and was second on the team with 30 doubles on the season.
Colorado Springs proved to be a launching pad for some of the Brewers’ top prospects, as well. Lewis Brinson carried over his strong finish to 2016 into this past season, producing a .962 OPS during his time in the Minors. This helped him garner a spot in the Future’s Game as well as his first big league call up.
Brett Phillips also put together a strong season in the PCL. His team-leading 19 home runs helped him to a .944 OPS on the season. This also helped him earn a promotion to the Milwaukee Brewers and he may have a starting role heading into 2018.
Rounding out the top hitting prospects is Mauricio Dubon, who actually started the season with Double-A Biloxi. He held his own against the advanced pitchers in the PCL, as he hit .272 in 58 games. He even swiped seven bags with the Sky Sox, bringing his season total to 38 between Double-A and Triple-A.
Colorado Springs Sky Sox Pitching
Despite Colorado Springs reputation as a hitter’s haven, the Sky Sox pitching staff had a solid year. Taylor Jungmann led the charge in the rotation by putting up a 9-2 record along with a 2.59 ERA. Bubba Derby helped further by adding a 3.55 ERA to the mix.
Top pitching prospects Brandon Woodruff and Josh Hader spent time in Colorado Springs’ rotation for part of the season. Neither found overwhelming success in the Minors this season, finishing with 4.30 and 5.37 ERAs, respectively. However, both wound up getting called up to the Milwaukee Brewers and thrived there.
In the bullpen, Rob Scahill was the closer whenever he wasn’t in Milwaukee. He led the team with a 1.40 ERA and 10 saves in his 27 appearances with the Sky Sox. Lefty Wei-Chung Wang was also a force to be reckoned with out of the ‘pen, sporting a 2.05 ERA by season’s end.
Of course, what would the Sky Sox be without veteran reliever Tim Dillard? He struggled on the mound with a 5.17 ERA in 62 2/3 innings pitched. However, he easily led the league in entertaining content, as he enthralled fans with his myriad of Twitter posts throughout the season.
The season may have not ended the way most would’ve liked, but 2017 was good from a number of standpoints for the Sky Sox. The Brewers’ top prospects blossomed, the role players produced and Colorado Springs managed to make the playoffs for the first time in 20 years. Successful season? I’d say so.