Milwaukee Brewers: Biloxi Shuckers Midseason Update

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 02: The St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers stand for the singing of the national anthem before the game at Miller Park on April 2, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 02: The St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers stand for the singing of the national anthem before the game at Miller Park on April 2, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

This is part of a series reviewing the performance of the Milwaukee Brewers’ minor-league affiliates. Last time, we discussed the Colorado Springs Sky Sox’s first half. Next up: the Biloxi Shuckers.

The Biloxi Shuckers have enjoyed plenty of success in their first few years of existence. 2018 is no different, as the Brewers’ Double-A affiliate just locked up the Southern League South division first-half championship. How did they do it? A combination of top prospects and outstanding performances from under-the-radar players.

Biloxi Shuckers: All-Star Hitters

As one can imagine with a high-achieving team, the Shuckers were fortunate to have nine players named to the Southern League All-Star Game. The top name on the list is outfield prospect Corey Ray. Ray was taken by the Milwaukee Brewers with the fifth overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. His professional career started slowly, but things have vastly improved in Biloxi. The Louisville alumnus has nine home runs and 30 RBI to go with a team-leading 18 stolen bases.

Another top hitting prospect on the All-Star team is Jake Gatewood. He was also a slow starter in his pro career, but he’s tapped into his power the past two years. This season, Gatewood leads the team with 13 home runs and 42 RBI while adding in a pair of steals.

The other two position players to be named All-Stars were infielder Jake Hager and outfielder Troy Stokes Jr. Hager punched his ticket to the All-Star Game with a team-leading .292 batting average and 10 home runs. Stokes didn’t have as high of a batting average in the first half, but he’s nearly on pace for another 20/20 season.

Biloxi Shuckers: All-Star Pitchers

The other five All-Stars are Shucker pitchers, three of whom are relievers. The most notable name of the bullpen bunch is Nate Griep, the Shuckers closer. He has 21 saves on the season to go with a strong 2.76 ERA. Nick Ramirez and Jon Olczak will join him in the South Division bullpen after both producing ERA’s south of 2.00 in the first half.

The two starting pitchers named to the team were Zack Brown and Thomas Jankins. Brown is the undisputed ace of the Shuckers’ staff, holding a 6-0 record with a 2.53 ERA heading into the break. Jankins’ numbers aren’t nearly as good, but he leads the team with seven wins and currently has roughly a 2:1 groundball-to-flyball ratio.

Biloxi Shuckers: Other Notable Hitters

There are plenty of hitters to get excited about outside of the All-Stars, too. Prospects Lucas Erceg and Trent Grisham are also on the team, though both have gotten off to somewhat slow starts. Erceg only has five homers on the year after blasting 15 in 2017. Grisham dealt with injuries during the early portion of the season as well, keeping his RBI total in the single digits thus far.

The team also features an exciting reinforcement: Milwaukee Brewers number one prospect Keston Hiura. He only has one homer since joining the Shuckers, but he’s still hitting .383. Additionally, he already has five stolen bases. If he can just stay on the field and play decent defense, he could even wind up in Milwaukee by season’s end.

Biloxi Shuckers: Other Notable Pitchers

A couple of pitching prospects have broken out with the Shuckers even without the All-Star nod. Former first-round draft pick Kodi Medeiros has a 3.61 ERA with Biloxi while also striking out nearly a batter per inning. Adding onto that, former Rangers farmhand Luis Ortiz continues to impress when he’s healthy, sporting a 2.84 ERA through five starts and four relief appearances.

One other hurler to watch is Quintin Torres-Costa. In 28.1 frames of work, the 23-year-old possesses a 1.27 ERA and a 43:12 K:BB. He even has a pair of saves to his name. He may not be the team’s closer, but this kind of performance won’t go unnoticed by the Milwaukee Brewers for long.

Next: Sky Sox Midseason Update

As if their record wasn’t enough of an indication, the Biloxi Shuckers are playing at a high level this season. Many of the players are breaking out, and some are even getting recognition through All-Star bids and promotions. Even if they don’t win the second half crown, this team is worth monitoring over the next few months, especially when the postseason comes along.