This is the third part of a series previewing the 2018 minor-league baseball season. We’ve already covered the Milwaukee Brewers Triple-A and Double-A affiliates. Now, it’s time to look at the High-A Carolina Mudcats.
The Carolina Mudcats have only been a minor-league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers for a couple seasons. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t have some of Milwaukee’s top up-and-coming talent.
Mudcats Starting Pitchers
The two top prospect arms in Carolina’s rotation are Trey Supak and Marcos Diplan. Supak, who came over from the Pirates with Keon Broxton a few years back, has allowed just one run in three starts this season. Diplan struggled more, as he currently has more walks than strikeouts.
Another top performer early is Cameron Roegner. In his two starts, he has yet to allow a run and holds a 12:3 K:BB.
One final arm to keep an eye on is southpaw Nathan Kirby. Elbow injuries hampered him early in his career. However, he was once a top-tier pitching prospect out of the University of Virginia. His pedigree alone makes him an intriguing player.
Mudcats Relief Pitchers
Interestingly, four Mudcats relievers already have saves to their names. The early team leader is Jon Olczak, who is a perfect 2-for-2 in save opportunities. He also possesses a 3:1 K:BB in that span.
The other three to log saves are Chase Williams, Daniel Brown and Nattino Diplan (no relation to Marcos). Williams is off to the best start of the three of them, producing a 1.42 ERA in his first five appearances.
Arguably the hottest reliever for Carolina right now is Luke Barker, though. He worked multiple innings in each of his five outings this season. That didn’t negatively affect him, as he currently holds a 0.75 ERA and a 10:0 K:BB in that period.
The top catcher on the depth chart is Max McDowell. The UConn alumnus got off to a poor start at the plate, however, hitting just .219 in nine games played. His value primarily lies on defense, though. At the time of print, he already caught 10 would-be base stealers, easily leading the Carolina League.
The team’s other catcher is Robie Rojas, who’s seen success in his limited playing time. He’s 4-for-8 in three games played. His backup duties are on hold for the time being, as he is actually spending a bit of time at Triple-A while the major-league catching situation is muddied by injuries.
The Mudcats’ infield features the team’s top talent. This group is headlined by Brewers’ top prospect Keston Hiura. He’s currently limited to designated hitter duty, but he’s expected to man second base once his elbow is fully healthy. Hiura is struggling at the plate for the first time in his brief professional career, going just 8-for-40 (.200) in his first 10 games at the level. He’ll likely pick things up quickly given how quickly he adapted to each level last season.
The rest of the infield consists of Ronnie Gideon at first base, Luis Aviles Jr. at shortstop and Tucker Neuhaus, Dallas Carroll and Weston Wilson bouncing around the infield. Neuhaus is off to the best start of that group, already collecting 14 hits and leading the team with two homers and eight RBI.
The Mudcats’ starting outfield is a bit more fluid. Each individual gets days off relatively frequently, though some certainly do play more than others. The team leader in appearances is none other than former top prospect Clint Coulter. He’s only hitting .244 on the season, but over half of his hits are doubles.
Carlos Belonis and Ryan Aguilar have appeared in nine games each, though their results aren’t as good. Belonis did log a two-homer game already, though he has nearly twice as many strikeouts (13) as hits (7). Aguilar’s batting average is also pretty low, but his good eye at the plate (4:6 K:BB) makes up for that a bit.
There is a lot of young talent on this roster, whether it be on the mound or elsewhere on the field. Even without the top prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, the Mudcats are a team worth watching this season.