Overall the catcher position for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018 was inconsistent at the plate for a majority of the season. As we set our sights on 2019, it appears that Jacob Nottingham is going to be playing a bigger role, which begs the question, will he be ready for it?
We know that Pina will be back for the 2019 season but, as it currently stands, it would appear likely that Kratz will be on another team. Kratz provided a fantastic veteran presence for the Brewers and a surprisingly good bat at the end of the year. But based on his career statistics, a similar performance at the plate in 2019 is most likely not repeatable.
This Milwaukee Brewers ball club is a much better team when they are getting production from the bottom of their order, and to make the jump to a potential World Series appearance they will need more production from that part of the lineup.
As a unit, the Milwaukee Brewers catchers put together a slash line in 2018 of .237/.294/.363, definitely room for improvement.
Most of us expect the Brewers to be aggressive in free agency this offseason, but most likely it will not be at the catcher position. This leaves Jacob Nottingham to take over with Manny Pina.
Nottingham’s 2018 season
Jacob Nottingham was on the Milwaukee Brewers 40-man roster for the 2018 season and even made a few appearances for Milwaukee. However, most of his playing time was spent at Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Nottingham was brought up early in 2018 but with the acquisition of Kratz and a short stint on the DL, he fell to the third option at catcher.
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With the Brewers, Nottingham appeared in nine games and recorded a slash line of .200/.333/.250 with an OPS of .583. I’m sure Nottingham would be the first to admit that he would want better numbers, but this type of performance can be expected from a player who is making their MLB debut and in such a small sample size.
In Triple-A, we get a much larger sample size of what Nottingham is capable of. Last season, he appeared in 50 games and put up a slash line of .281/.347/.528 and an OPS of .875. Nottingham also added 10 home runs and 36 RBIs.
A bigger role in 2019
Heading into the upcoming season, we can expect more playing time for Nottingham but he isn’t going to be the everyday starter. Pina will still catch a majority of the games, at least to begin the season, but Nottingham will be expected to give Pina a break or be ready if Pina gets injured.
Nevertheless, when Nottingham is starting a game we should expect a learning curve in the beginning. He is a solid defender and will do well defensively but as a batter we may see him struggle.
Keep in mind it was a small sample size but during his plate appearances in 2018. He was very impatient, often times swinging at bad pitches. As he gets more experience and becomes more comfortable, he will get better at taking those poor pitches, he’ll be better at waiting for the right pitch, and he’ll draw more walks.
Nottingham has a lot of potential and if the Milwaukee Brewers want him to be apart of their organization for the upcoming years, he is going to need to get some playing time at some point.
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At the beginning of the previous season, according to MLB Pipeline Nottingham was ranked the ninth best prospect in the Brewers organization, there is no reason that he can’t take over and be successful.