Spring training for the Milwaukee Brewers is such a valuable time for so many reasons. For the team’s veterans, it’s a chance to get back into the swing of things and ramp up to be ready by the time the 2022 regular season begins.
For the team’s younger minor league prospects, it is about more than just that. It can be a chance to show some of the higher ups in the organization what they’ve got, sometimes against actual major league talent.
Last year, you saw a player like Aaron Ashby who would strike out 7 of the 13 batters he faced in the spring. Having an audition like that could have been a big part of why he would find himself making his major league debut later that June at just age 23.
Yesterday, 21-year-old right-handed pitcher Abner Uribe got to make his first Cactus League appearance for the Milwaukee Brewers. It was a rather innocuous outing at first glance: two batters faced, a walk, a strikeout, and a wild pitch, that last part probably being not too surprising to those familiar with his work.
However, Brewers manager Craig Counsell had some interesting things to say about Abner Uribe after the game.
Reporters met up with Counsell after the game to ask about, among other things, Abner Uribe’s performance. Just listen to what he had to say in this video posted by Brewers beat writer for MLB.com, Adam McCalvy.
I’m sorry, did I hear that correctly? Did Counsell just say that Uribe, “could affect us this year?”
For those who are unfamiliar with the young gun, Uribe is ranked No. 21 on the list of the top 30 Brewers prospects that recently released at MLB.com. Last year was his first time pitching for one of Milwaukee’s top four affiliates with his year being spent at Low-A Carolina.
Uribe is most known for his blistering fastball, one that exceeds 100 miles per hour at its peak. He pairs it with a slider that is plenty fast on its own, resulting in a combination that is very often deadly for bullpen arms.
Now, when Counsell says, “if we get him on the right track,” there’s one big aspect of Uribe’s game his likely referring to: control (or lack thereof).
While Uribe struck out an impressive 13.9 batters per nine innings in 17 games with Carolina, he also walked an ugly 6.7 batters per nine. Later, in Arizona Fall League, he elevated his K/9 to a whopping 16, but also increased his BB/9 to a staggering 17.
In fact, Uribe’s very first pitch in his Cactus League outing yesterday was a 97 mph fastball that went straight to the backstop. So make no mistake, Uribe is by no means ready to just drop into the middle of a major league bullpen.
And Counsell acknowledges that when he says that Uribe “is in the middle of his development.” But the organization clearly thinks very highly of his talent level to even hint that he could help out the Brewers any time soon, even if it would take a sizeable leap in his development, including a sudden mastery of his control, to do so.
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Fans don’t always need to read much into a player’s spring training results. Still, when the manager talks, it’s always worth a listen.