Milwaukee Brewers: Can Aaron Wilkerson win the fifth starter job?
Pitchers and catchers are about to report for the Milwaukee Brewers. There isn’t a free agent signing imminent or a trade set to happen. The Brewers have four pitchers vying for the fifth starter’s job. Could journeyman Aaron Wilkerson win the job this spring?
You’ve heard of Brent Suter, Junior Guerra, and Yovani Gallardo. However, Aaron Wilkerson is also in the mix for the Milwaukee Brewers fifth starter’s role. Wilkerson is on the outside looking in, right?
Who is Aaron Wilkerson?
He’s a 28-year old starting pitcher who has taken the road less traveled. Wilkerson starred at an NAIA school called Cumberland University from 2008-2011. In 2011 he was diagnosed with a frayed ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and required Tommy John surgery. He went undrafted after his senior year and spent two years out of baseball working at a grocery store.
Wilkerson picked baseball back up in 2013 for the Fort Worth Cats of United League Baseball. He also spent time with the Florence Freedom in the Frontier League and the Grand Prairie AirHogs of the American Association.
Wilkerson returned to Grand Prairie in 2014, but his contract was purchased by the Boston Red Sox. He worked his way through affiliated ball before getting dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers July of 2016.
Wilkerson spent most of 2017 with the Biloxi Shuckers, but earned a September call up. He tossed 10 1/3 innings for the Milwaukee Brewers with a 3.48 ERA. He struck out seven and walked only one.
How did Wilkerson do in Biloxi?
He was fantastic. Wilkerson made 24 starts for the Biloxi Shuckers in 2017. He posted an 11-4 record with a 3.16 ERA, 143 strikeouts, and 36 walks in 142 1/3 innings of work.
So Wilkerson must throw really hard, right?
Nope. His average fastball velocity was a shade under 90 MPH during his time with the Milwaukee Brewers. He has a solid four pitch mix with a slider, curve ball, and change up.
Can he really win a spot in the starting rotation?
Well, Wilkerson is in the mix for the job. So, yes, he can win a spot in the Milwaukee Brewers starting rotation. A better question is, ‘what does it mean if he does?’
If Wilkerson shocks the team, has a fantastic spring, and everyone else is mediocre or worse, he’ll win the job. Suter, Gallardo and Guerra have to spend the spring getting knocked around, while Wilkerson enjoys the month of his life.
Next: Is Alex Cobb still an option for the Brewers?
Wilkerson is a great story, and by all available accounts, a solid dude. He’s worked hard to go from a grocery store to Major League Baseball, but he has a lot to prove before the Milwaukee Brewers can count on him for a starting role. If the Brewers were still rebuilding, Wilkerson makes more sense for the rotation, but the Brewers are ‘all-in’ for 2018. The team was linked to just about every starting pitcher available this off season. To start the season with Wilkerson instead of Alex Cobb or Jake Arrieta ranks as a disappointment.