Heading into this season, the Milwaukee Brewers had just a handful of prospects that MLB Pipeline predicted might hit the big leagues in 2021. One of those few was 2019 1st round draft pick and Pipeline’s No. 4 Brewers prospect, Ethan Small.
Small hadn’t pitched above the Low-A level, which he did the year he was drafted with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. There, he gave up just two earned runs on 11 hits over 18 innings, putting together an outstanding 31-to-4 strikeout to walk ratio.
After getting to continue some development at the alternate training site in 2020 due to the lost minor league season, Small was invited to spring training for the Brewers to start 2021. He would give up a pair of earned runs and also strike out two over 2 2/3 Cactus League innings, but show enough for manager Craig Counsell to openly consider him for a possible late-season call up.
Small would be placed at Double-A Biloxi to begin the 2021 season. A sub-2.00 ERA and a player of the week award later, he finds himself heading to a new home and one step closer to that possible big league debut.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Brewers prospect Ethan Small would be heading to Triple-A.
After a debut in which he gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks, Small improved more and more as the season went on. Through eight starts, he would drop his ERA to 1.96, his WHIP to 1.137, hold batters to a .184 average, and strike out 67 batters over 41 1/3 innings with 21 walks.
That was apparently all the Brewers needed to see.
Small’s month of June pretty much sealed the deal on his promotion. The lefty gave up just one earned run all month, hit double-digit strikeouts twice, and earned a Double-A South player of the week award three weeks ago.
Now, Small joins a starting rotation at Triple-A Nashville that has already seen No. 7 prospect Aaron Ashby get moved to the bullpen, the right move to prepare him for his own possible 2021 call up.
Like Ashby, Small’s path to contributing for the Brewers later this season is probably also in the bullpen. Milwaukee’s rotation is already one of the best in the league, but their relief corps has struggled to find consistency, currently sitting 17th in MLB with a 4.11 ERA.
Small will first need to show that he can handle the competition at the Triple-A level. If he does so, he could make the leap to the big leagues before fans know it.