Milwaukee Brewers: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 2018 Preview
This is the fourth and final part of a series looking at the Milwaukee Brewers minor-league affiliates. With Triple-A, Double-A and High-A out of the way, only the Low-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers remain.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were fortunate to have a lot of top talent last season. Fortunately for the organization, many of the Milwaukee Brewers top prospects graduated to higher levels of the minors. However, this means the talent pool in Appleton is a bit lower than previous years.
Timber Rattlers Starting Pitchers
None of the Timber Rattlers’ starters are on the Milwaukee Brewers top 30 prospects list. This is partially because they haven’t had the chance to prove themselves as pros yet. Out of those in the rotation, three were drafted in last year’s first-year player draft.
The ace of the staff is Opening Day starter is seventh-round pick Bowden Francis. The 21-year-old righty has been sharp out of the gate, producing a 2.57 ERA and a 15:0 K:BB in 14 innings pitched. The other two 2017 draftees in the rotation are Alec Bettinger (10th round), Dylan File (21st round) and Christian Taugner (37th round).
The rest of the rotation consists of young Caribbean arms. Carlos Herrera (20) and Nelson Hernandez (21) come from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, respectively. They’ve gotten off to tough starts on the mound, though.
Timber Rattlers Relief Pitchers
The nature of the Timber Rattlers’ pitching strategy makes it tough to discern starters from relievers. The team sometimes opts to utilize multiple starters in a single game to piggyback off each other and give the bullpen a rest. Despite this, there are a few bullpen-only arms worth monitoring.
Only one pitcher on the team has a save this season, and that is Gabe Friese. The 22-year-old currently has two saves in 3.2 innings pitched to go with a 2.45 ERA and a 3:0 K:BB.
Rodrigo Benoit is the only other pitcher to finish multiple games this season. He hasn’t allowed an earned run this year, though his 2.00 WHIP suggests some regression is on the way.
Many of the other arms in the bullpen are relatively unspectacular. Michael Petersen also has yet to allow a run, but there isn’t much to get excited about after him.
Timber Rattlers Catchers
The Timber Rattlers split time between their two catchers pretty evenly to start the season. The top prospect of the pair is KJ Harrison, the Brewers’ third-round pick in 2017. He’s off to a horrific start to the season, though. In 23 at-bats, he has just one hit as opposed to 15 strikeouts.
The team’s other backstop is Payton Henry, a 2016 draftee. He hasn’t fared much better at the plate, sporting a .200 batting average in six games. Four of his five hits have gone for extra bases, though.
Timber Rattlers Infielders
What the Timber Rattlers’ infield lacks in star power, they make up for with performance. The top performer so far is first baseman/designated hitter Pat McInerney. He leads the team with four homers and four doubles while hitting .297.
Former top prospect Gilbert Lara is also off to a good start. He’s hitting .351 on the young season to go with a pair of home runs. This power surge is especially intriguing given that he’s never hit more than three homers in an entire season in his pro career.
Nick Roscetti, Franly Mallen and Gabriel Garcia round out the infield regulars. Mallen and Garcia likely have the most upside since they’re both just 20 years old. Roscetti is off to the best start though, hitting .286 with a pair of stolen bases thus far.
Timber Rattlers Outfielders
The top prospect on the Timber Rattlers is found in the team’s outfield. Tristen Lutz, the Brewers’ Competitive Balance A selection in last year’s draft, is a mainstay in the Wisconsin lineup. His fielding is his calling card, but he possesses sneaky power. He’s off to a slow start though, tallying just two hits in 33 at-bats so far.
The top performer in the outfield so far is Joantgel Segovia. The 21-year-old Venezuelan leads the team with a .406 batting average, due in part to five straight multi-hit games in which he started. He also tops the team steals leaderboard with seven.
One other name to keep in mind is Demi Orimoloye. He was born in Nigeria, but the Milwaukee Brewers drafted him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft out of a Canadian school. He’s moved slowly through the Brewers’ system due to relatively raw tools, but he’s a good breakout candidate for this season. To this point, he’s hitting .250 with a team-leading two triples and eight RBI. He also has three stolen bases, though he’s been caught twice as well.
Next: Ryan Braun Sidelined Again
There certainly isn’t as much prospect shine in Appleton as there has been in previous seasons. Even without the future superstars though, the Timber Rattlers have enough under-the-radar talent to surprise many this season.