As winter of 2021 was approaching not that long ago, so too was the impending MLB lockout, which continues to drag on. At the time, though, some members of the Milwaukee Brewers organization were still taking part in actual baseball activities.
It began with the minor leaguers who got to take part in MLB’s Arizona Fall League. Some of the team’s more highly regarded prospects such as Joey Wiemer, Joe Gray Jr, and Mario Feliciano, among others, got a little extra chance to develop their skills after their regular seasons were over.
A smaller handful of Brewers got to take part in the Dominican Winter League (LIDOM) this offseason. One of those players was the top ranked pitcher in the system (per MLB Pipeline) and Milwaukee’s 2021 Minor League pitcher of the year, left-hander Ethan Small.
Unlike Arizona Fall League, which is filled with minor leaguers, LIDOM can feature both minor league prospects as well as current and former major league players. Thus, the competition can be plenty fierce.
Small was coming off dominant 2021 season where he put up a 1.98 ERA and 1.254 WHIP primarily across the Double-A and Triple-A levels. But would that success translate over to LIDOM?
As it turned out, Brewers prospect Ethan Small’s 2021 dominance did carry over to LIDOM.
Playing for Leones del Escogido, Small had an excellent debut to kick off his LIDOM campaign. On October 28th, the southpaw picked up the win, throwing five scoreless innings and giving up just three hits and a walk while striking out six.
His next outing would come on November 3rd, just a day after the conclusion of the 2021 World Series. It would be a shorter start, lasting just three innings, but would add to his previous scoreless stretch.
Small would eventually give up some earned runs, as most pitchers will ultimately do. But he would churn out another outstanding outing on November 14th, another five-inning outing in which he gave up just one run.
When all was said and done, Small would finish his run with Leones del Escogido going 2-1 over five starts. He ended up surrendering four earned runs over 20 innings, good for a 1.80 ERA, as well as a 1.200 WHIP with 17 strikeouts.
Small’s performance should bode well of seeing time in the majors in 2022. He was already on the cusp of a big league debut having performed well at Triple-A this season. Having done the same against legit major league competitors could end up sealing the deal.
If 2022 is anything like 2021, the Brewers will need plenty of contributors for the season. Ethan Small made a great case for being one of them.