The Brewers recently released the names of players who were invited to ‘Summer Camp’ at Miller Park. The 45 named are said to have the best chance of making the initial 30 man opening day roster.
Of the 45 players at Brewers summer camp, nine are non-roster invitees. Those players are: RHP Zack Brown, RHP Jake Faria, RHP Justin Grimm, RHP Drew Rasmussen, RHP Shelby Miller, 1B Logan Morrison, INF/OF Jace Peterson, and OF Keon Broxton. These players are not on the 40 man roster which means if they are removed from the 60 man roster this season, they will be released.
Given the depth of the Brewers offensive lineup, it seems reasonable to assume that the pitchers on this list will have more chances to earn permanent roles on the team in a short 60 game season. That being said, let’s examine three of these nine non-roster invitees who may have the biggest impact in 2020.
1. RHP Drew Rasmussen
Rasmussen is a former first round pick by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017. However, after discrepancies regarding pre draft and post draft MRI’s, a deal was never struck. Rasmussen would go back to college and be drafted by the Brewers in 2018. Rasmussen had Tommy John Surgery two times in college, which may be why he fell to the sixth round in 2018.
Rasmussen has all the stuff necessary to be an electric MLB pitcher. He has a three pitch mix that includes a mid 90s fastball, 88-91 MPH slider, and a changeup in the mid to upper 80s. While he is very comfortable throwing all three of his pitches, most believe he will be best suited as a reliever long term due to his injury history.
It did not take Rasmussen long to start climbing the ranks during his first professional minor league season. He flew through the A level ranks of the minors and ended up pitching 61 total innings in double A for the Shuckers. Of those 61 innings, he recorded 77 strikeouts and had a respectable 3.54 ERA.
During spring training in 2020, he appeared in three games, in which he gave up one earned run over 2.2 innings. While it would have been nice to see him pitch more against near MLB ready talent, his stuff may allow him to get an opportunity to pitch for the Brewers this year.
2. RHP Justin Grimm
Grimm is a 31 year old with multiple years of MLB experience. He has pitched for the Rangers, Cubs, Royals, and Mariners. His most successful season was for the Cubs in 2015 when he struck out 67 batters in 49.2 innings with a 1.99 ERA that season.
Primarily a fastball/curveball pitcher, Grimm’s fastball velocity primarily sits in the low to mid 90’s and his curveball in the low 80s. Grimm also has a slider and sinker in his pitch repertoire but he seldom uses those.
Grimm bounced around in 2019. Originally he signed with the Cleveland Indians where he failed to make the big league club out of camp. He elected free agency and was signed by the Dodgers where he pitched in their minor league system. He was then traded to the Cincinnati Red in July where he pitched in the Reds farm system as well. He did not throw a pitch in the majors in 2019.
Despite not pitching at the MLB level in 2019, the Brewers invited Grimm to camp as a non roster invitee in 2020 and now has a chance to earn a spot on the 30 man opening day roster, which will likely include up to 16 or 17 pitchers.
3. 1B Logan Morrison
In case you forgot, Logan Morrison started spring training off on a tear in 2020. In 33 at bats Morrison was batting .300, hit three home runs, and had a .964 OPS. While it was a short sample size, many fans had jumped on the LoMo express as their favorite to make the active roster. As he reports to Summer Camp, Morrison appears to be in the best shape of his life.
With the addition of the DH in the National League this year, including Morrison on the Brewers active roster makes more sense. As a left handed batter he can provide power presumably in the middle to the end of the batting order while playing a solid first base.
The Brewers will enter the season with 3 main options at first base: Logan Morrison, Justin Smoak, and Ryan Braun. It seems likely that Ryan Braun will get lots of opportunities to get at bats via the DH, so the battle for first base may be between Smoak and Morrison.
Which of these non roster invitees, if any, end of making the biggest impact for the Brewers in 2020 will be fun to monitor. The season starts with a 30 man active roster, will decrease to 28 two weeks into the season, and then decrease to 26 for the remainder of the season. Initially expanded roster and the taxi squad concept are going to give many players additional chances to prove their worth.