The Brewers have several minor league prospects playing in winter leagues. How are they performing?
Typically, winter leagues across the Caribbean and South America are full of MLB players and prospects as they work on new things to get ready for the next season. The Brewers had Freddy Peralta and others in winter ball last year. But this year, not quite as much.
None of the Crew’s big leaguers have been playing in winter ball this year, but they have several prospects that are playing, so let’s take a look at how they’re doing.
Leo Crawford, LHP
The Brewers newest pitching prospect, Leo Crawford, came over in the Corey Knebel trade. He’s been pitching in the Nicaraguan Winter League, since Nicaragua is his home country, and was pitching quite well overall.
In the regular season for Gigantes De Rivas, Crawford had a 3.41 ERA in 21.1 IP with 18 strikeouts and four walks.
Then in the Round Robin portion of the season, Crawford performed even better, lowering his ERA to 2.65 over a few more appearances. He’s spent most of his time as a starter but has also been used out of the bullpen this winter.
Crawford started Game 1 of the Nicaraguan Winter League Championship Series and it did not go well. Crawford went 4.2 IP and ran into big trouble in the 5th inning and ended up leaving with six earned runs on the board, two hit batters, and just one strikeout.
It’s a best-of-7 final series, and Crawford should get another opportunity or two to pitch before he returns to the United States for spring training in February.
Prospects Down Under
The Brewers have a partnership with the Brisbane Bandits in the Australian Baseball League and have six prospects down in Australia; five with the Bandits and one, catcher Alex Hall, with the Perth Heat.
Let’s start with Alex Hall. In five games, Hall has gone 3-for-13 at the plate with one RBI and a .231/.333/.231 slash line.
It’s important to note that the ABL did not play last weekend due to Covid issues and those games were postponed, but the league is due to return to action this weekend.
On to the Bandits, who are just 1-3 on the season so far. Nick Kahle is the highest rated Brewers prospect down there and has played in three of the Bandits’ games, going 2-for-9 with one homer and a .222/.300/.556 slash line. Kahle has also registered a caught stealing, showing off his defensive ability down there.
The other four Brewers prospects on the Bandits are pitchers. Brandon Ramey, acquired from the Phillies in the David Phelps trade last summer, has yet to pitch in a game for the Bandits, but likely would’ve last weekend had the games not been postponed.
Michele Vassalotti, who was one of the guys at instructional league that opened some eyes with improved velocity, has pitched in one game so far with a perfect 0.00 ERA in 1.1 IP. Paxton Schultz, a 14th round pick in 2019, also has a perfect 0.00 ERA in one inning of work.
Matt Hardy has put in the most work, throwing three innings in a start against Perth and only giving up a single while striking out four and keeping his spotless 0.00 ERA.
So far, none of the Brewers pitching prospects in Australia have given up a run while Kahle has had some bright moments and Hall has shown some potential as well.
There’s still some more of winter leagues left to be played before spring training starts. Crawford should get another appearance or two in Nicaragua while the Brewers contingent down in Australia still has most of their games left to play.