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Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
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Posted: April 05, 2017, 3:59 AM Post
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VIDEO via Fox 11 Sports: Timber Rattlers return to Fox Cities Stadium


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
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Posted: April 05, 2017, 7:50 AM Post
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Via Brad Krause of Miller Park Prospects - Sweet player photos from Tuesday's FanFest scrimmage


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Posted: April 05, 2017, 11:50 AM Post
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Story, linked earlier, now includes VIDEO quotes from RHP Thomas Jankins and LHP Cameron Roegner

Zack Brown excited to start season opener
Tim Froberg, Appleton Post Crescent

GRAND CHUTE - His roster gets blown up and rebuilt each spring, so Matt Erickson never knows in April what type of season lies ahead for his Wisconsin Timber Rattlers teams.

Two years ago, a teen-dominated Timber Rattlers squad won a mere 50 games, finishing a whopping 39 games below .500.

Last season, the Rattlers made an impressive 21-game jump in the win column and returned to the Midwest League playoffs.

Can the Rattlers maintain last year’s momentum with so many new pieces to the 2017 puzzle? That’s a question that will be answered in the coming months, but fresh starts never bother Erickson and he seems comfortable with his club’s talent level for the Midwest League season that starts Thursday night on the road against Quad Cities.

“The unique part about this is that each year, we come back from spring training with a new crop of kids,” said Erickson on Tuesday during Media Day at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium. “It’s an important deal. We have to develop within the Brewers organization and it’s an exciting time to be in player development with the Milwaukee Brewers. Hopefully, this is going to be another taste of what we’re going to get down the road in Milwaukee.”

Eleven players who have spent previous time with the Timber Rattlers, including high draft picks Tucker Neuhaus and Monte Harrison, will lead the team, while high-ceiling prospects like infielder Gilbert Lara, catcher Mario Feliciano and outfielder Demi Orimoloye will make their Rattlers debuts.

“I see a lot of talent, a lot of good baseball players,” said Harrison. “The younger guys are going to have to learn the ropes just like we had to, but they’re smart and they’ll get used to it.”

Erickson coached his new team for 14 games during Milwaukee’s recent spring training and the squad won about half of those contests. Erickson, an Appleton native who is starting his seventh year as Timber Rattlers manager, is the longest-tenured manager in the Brewers’ farm system.

“It looked like we have a ballclub that can take care of the baseball,” said Erickson. “We had some solid starting pitching and we did a nice job defensively. Some days we were a little better than others with the bats, but that’s to be expected here at the lower levels. I’m very excited about the possibilities of this ballclub.”

Player development is the No. 1 priority of minor league coaching staffs, but every manager and coach wants to win ballgames, too. Erickson said that team chemistry — something that is hard to develop with ever-changing rosters — will be a key to any success the Rattlers have.

“Each year and each team is different,” Erickson said. “The chemistry that is built within the clubhouse is something that we try and mold, but it’s really up to the players each year. There’s talented kids that enter that clubhouse each year. Some clubhouses are better than others. Those better clubhouses tend to have better success on the field.”

Erickson will have a couple of new faces on his coaching staff. Steve Cline is the new pitching coach, while Hainley Statia takes over as hitting coach. Cline has spent the last 16 years in the Brewers organization as the pitching coach with the rookie league Arizona Brewers.

“Steve has an abundance of experience within the Brewers system and has worked at the lower levels, so he probably knows these pitchers better than anyone because he’s worked with them the last couple years,” said Erickson.

Statia, 31, played as an infielder in the Angels and Brewers systems.

“Hainley is a fresh face,” Erickson said. “I believe last year was Hainley’s first full season as a hitting coach. A lot of passion there, a lot of energy. It will be good to have him on our staff as well.”

Getting the ball: Zack Brown, a 22-year-old right-hander, will be the Rattlers’ opening day starter Thursday at Quad Cities.

“We feel good with him on the mound for the first pitch of the season,” Erickson said. “He had a very good spring training. I saw four of his starts and he was pretty dominant in three of them, and he showed some toughness in the one that he struggled a little bit in.”

Brown, a fifth-round pick by the Brewers in the 2016 draft, is in his second season of pro ball. He made two starts with Helena last year before finishing the season with the Rattlers, where he compiled a 1-2 record with an ERA of 3.00 in nine games and four starts. Brown had 29 strikeouts in 33 innings with the Rattlers.

“Coming from Helena, it’s a little different pitching-wise,” said Brown. “Guys are a little more patient. They’re not going to sit on the fastball as much. You have to hit your spots.

“I’m excited about pitching opening day. It’s the first game of the season and, yeah, there will be jitters. There are jitters in spring training. But I think I’ll be fine.”

Jankins to start home opener: Another right-hander, Thomas Jankins, will start the Rattlers’ 4:05 p.m. home opener Saturday against Quad Cities. Jankins, 21, was a 13th-round pick of the Brewers in 2016 and also spent the second half of his first professional season with Wisconsin, going 0-2 with a 3.20 ERA in eight games and seven starts.

“I’m very comfortable here since I was here last year,” said Jankins. “I don’t know if that’s a big advantage, but it’s not going to hurt knowing how the field plays and how the environment is. It’s a great honor (to start the home opener) and hopefully we can give the fans a good show. I’m sure there will be a little bit of adrenaline pumping through me Saturday. I think it will be more excitement than nerves.”

Big crowd anticipated: Erickson said roughly 3,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday’s home opener and with warm weather expected for the weekend, he anticipates a big opening weekend crowd.

“Up here as the weather breaks, the baseball season is a sign of spring coming and warmer days ahead,” Erickson said. “It will be a fun opening day for sure.”


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
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Posted: April 05, 2017, 3:00 PM Post
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A great listen for all the minor league diehards out there --

AUDIO via the Rattler Radio Podcast, Episode Nine, Wed. 4/5

"Kyle Lobner and Chris Mehring talk about Media Day for the Timber Rattlers in the last Preseason Podcast."

***

Also ---

Rattlers Experience, Familiarity on Display at Media Day
Kyle Lobner, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
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Posted: April 06, 2017, 3:40 AM Post
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Article includes a video interview --

Harrison looking for breakout season with Timber Rattlers
Tim Froberg, Appleton Post-Crescent

GRAND CHUTE - He played perhaps the roughest, toughest game of them all in high school and Monte Harrison seldom had football-related injuries.

Surprisingly, the non-contact sport of baseball has been a different and frustrating experience for the talented 21-year-old outfielder.

Harrison and his Wisconsin Timber Rattlers open the 2017 Midwest League season Thursday night on the road against the Quad Cities River Bandits, and the Kansas City native is looking for a breakout year following two consecutive injury-plagued seasons.

A second-round selection by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2014 draft, Harrison split the 2015 season with the low Class A Timber Rattlers and Helena before his summer ended in the Pioneer League when he broke his left ankle during a late-July game. Harrison opened 2016 with Wisconsin and played 75 games with the Rattlers before missing a majority of the season’s second half with a hamate fracture in his left hand.

“I wasn’t a guy that was known for injuries in high school,” said Harrison on Tuesday during Media Day at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium. “But, you know, you can’t really do anything to take care of bones besides drink milk. My mom harps on it so I’m going to start drinking a little more of that.”

The Brewers don’t care if Harrison sports a milk mustache this season. They’re just hoping the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Harrison stays healthy and makes a jump in terms of development. Following a solid season of rookie league ball with the Arizona Brewers in 2014, Harrison hit just .148 in 46 games with Wisconsin in 2015, but batted an impressive .299 with 14 stolen bases in 28 games at Helena before breaking the ankle. He struggled again hitting for average with the Timber Rattlers in 2016, batting just .221 in 267 at-bats, but showed some pop (six home runs, 32 RBI) and speed on the basepaths (eight steals).

Is this the season that Harrison puts it all together and turns potential into production? Harrison has youth, experience and an intriguing skill set on his side. Despite his minor league struggles, he is still only 21 and has 204 professional games under his belt. He also has a big, explosive body and the Brewers like the combination of speed and power that he offers.

Harrison had a solid spring training and feels like he’s starting to figure out the game. Harrison was a highly recruited wide receiver at Lee’s Summit West High School in Missouri and committed to Nebraska to play football and baseball before agreeing to a $1.8 million signing bonus with the Brewers in 2014, $700,000 more than the recommended slot value.

“I’ve learned to slow myself down a bit and just play the game,” said Harrison. “I had always been a guy that was kind of rowdy, playing football and stuff. But baseball is a different type of atmosphere and just playing it has definitely calmed me down.”

It’s made for a more mature, less anxious Harrison, who is improving as a student of the game.

“Before I got drafted, I didn’t really know much about baseball,” Harrison said. “I thought I did, but in reality I really didn’t. I’ve learned about the game every day by really listening to coaches and players and big leaguers. That’s definitely done a lot for me.”

Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson noticed a different Harrison in spring training, one with more focus and urgency.

“His spring training was a little more business-like,” said Erickson. “You could see some of the maturity and growth, not only as a player, but as a professional. His preparation in spring training was really good. He was as consistent as I’ve seen him. Hopefully, he carries that into the season.”

Harrison is still a top-30 Brewers prospect. He’s rated by Baseball America as the 20th best prospect in the Milwaukee organization and 22nd by MLB Pipeline.

“It’s good to have him back and hopefully he can stay healthy,” said Erickson. “He’s a tremendous athlete.”

As one of the most experienced players on the team, Harrison plans to take on more of a leadership role this season. He is the sixth oldest of the position players and Harrison just laughs when reminded of his veteran status.

“It’s weird because Pax (trainer Jeff Paxson) and I were talking and he asked me, ‘Did you ever think you’d have to grow up this quick?’ I was like, ‘No, I always thought I’d be the youngest on the team.’ But everything happens for a reason and the Brewers have great plans for me. But anyone who calls me grandpa, we’re definitely going to have a problem.”


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
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Posted: April 07, 2017, 3:59 AM Post
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ARTICLE: Brewerfan.net frequenter Josh Flickinger writes about 6'6" LHP Cameron Roegner for the Beloit Daily News, includes multiple quotes


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
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Posted: April 07, 2017, 3:45 PM Post
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Tim Froberg's Post-Crescent Rattlers' season preview includes a video interview with OF Demi Orimoloye.


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
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Posted: April 10, 2017, 2:11 PM Post
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Appears as though Zack Brown made the opening day start for the Rattlers, and then the Brewers decided to send him back down to extended spring. Weird. Would have been schedule to pitch tomorrow, instead Nattino Diplan is scheduled to go.

Maybe they thought 3 Browns was too much for fans.


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Posted: April 11, 2017, 1:26 AM Post
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Ronnie Gideon brings plenty of pop to Timber Rattlers’ lineup
Tim Froberg, Appleton Post-Crescent

GRAND CHUTE - Big has always been synonymous with the state of Texas, and Ronnie Gideon isn’t lacking in physical size or power.

At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, the native Texan can fill out a uniform and knock the ball out of the park.

Gideon has shown early in his professional career that he can launch the long ball and has the type of punch that may give him a future in the game.

The 22-year-old Wisconsin Timber Rattlers first baseman is looking to build on an outstanding rookie season at Helena, where he led the Pioneer League in homers (17) and slugging percentage (.638), and was second in extra-base hits (37) and third in total bases (143).

What made his home-run total, which was second-highest among Milwaukee Brewers minor leaguers, even more impressive was that he had just 224 at-bats.

Gideon also hit for average (.321) and was the Brewers’ minor league player of the month for August after batting .370 with nine homers and 23 RBI in 23 games.

“I put up some good numbers last season, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and coaches putting me in good situations, ” said Gideon, a right-handed hitter. “I started off kind of slow, but I got together with my hitting coach, Liu Rodriguez. He tweaked a few things and it all started to click. It was a great season.”

Gideon arrived in the Brewers system last year as an unheralded 23rd-round draft pick out of Texas A&M where he showed decent power with 13 homers in 256 collegiate at-bats and compiled batting averages of .294 and .284 along with slugging percentages of .522 and .597 his last two seasons. Prior to getting drafted by the Brewers, Gideon spent his summer of 2015 in the Northwoods League with the La Crosse Loggers and socked eight home home runs in just 101 at-bats.

Gideon opened the Timber Rattlers’ season hitting cleanup. If he stays healthy and can adjust to Midwest League pitching, Gideon has the raw power to challenge the team’s all-time single-season home run record of 22, shared by Clint Coulter (2014), Victor Roache (2013) and Khris Davis ((2010).

“He’s got some pop,” said Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson. “He’s one of the few guys we have that has average to above average power. Ronnie put up big power numbers at Helena, but every park in the Pioneer League is pretty short.”

Making steady contact at the plate will be a key for Gideon, who struck out 69 times last season.

“My main thing this year is to just be consistent and avoid those ups and downs,” said Gideon. “Now, everybody is going to have them, but that’s my goal, avoiding those ups and downs.”

Gideon, who grew up in East Texas in the city of Longview, has ties to the major leagues and would like to join his father in the big leagues. Ron Gideon Sr. is a member of the Colorado Rockies coaching staff. The 52-year-old coached 26 years in professional ball — 20 with the Rockies organization — before being promoted to the majors this season.

“I talk to him a lot,” said Gideon. “I’m really excited for him that he finally made it to the majors.”

Having a father coaching in the big leagues is a valuable resource, but don’t expect Gideon to be pestering his dad for hitting advice if he falls into a slump.

“Well, there may be times when I’ll reach out to him, but I have a hitting coach (Hainley Statia) right here and I’m not going to disrespect him by doing that,” Gideon said. “I’m with this system right now and want to stay within the system.”

Gideon handled himself well defensively at first base during the first week of the season and looks natural at the position.

“He has good instincts,” said Erickson. “He comes from a baseball family, so there’s some good baseball feel there. He’ll play first and DH for us, but you may see him in the outfield at some point.”


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
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Posted: April 11, 2017, 12:31 PM Post
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Is Tucker Neuhaus anyone to pay attention to or is he just a guy? Seems like he must have decent pedigree being a former 2nd round pick and he's still only 21, but I don't see him get mentioned anywhere among the top 25-30 prospects in our system.


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
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Posted: April 11, 2017, 2:46 PM Post
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MillerParkSouth said:
Is Tucker Neuhaus anyone to pay attention to or is he just a guy? Seems like he must have decent pedigree being a former 2nd round pick and he's still only 21, but I don't see him get mentioned anywhere among the top 25-30 prospects in our system.


I think one of the main reasons why his name isn't mentioned more is due to the fact he missed the majority of last season due to injury. I am a season ticket holder for the Timber Rattler's so I've seen a bit of him last year and all of this season so far. I would rank him as the most skilled hitter on the T-Rats this year (Not saying much), but I also really like is fielding ability at 2B...made a very athletic play on Sunday that robbed a base hit that he then turned into a double play.

He's no Isan Diaz, but I bet he bats around .275 with 10 HRs. I would have him in the 35-40 range right now, with the potential to break into the top 30 in a year or two.


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Posted: April 15, 2017, 5:32 AM Post
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Developing Lara figures to be high priority
Tim Froberg, Appleton Post-Crescent

GRAND CHUTE - With his age, body type and high-ceiling tools, Gilbert Lara is more about tomorrow than today.

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ 19-year-old starting shortstop is loaded with potential and is one of the more interesting players on the Rattlers’ roster.

Despite still being a teenager, the 6-foot-4, 198-pound Lara is in his third season of professional baseball after being signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 at the age of 16. He received a reported signing bonus of $3.1 million, the most Milwaukee has spent on an amateur international player.

Lara’s progress will be closely watched this summer. He is more advanced defensively than offensively at this point, but the Brewers have high hopes for his development at the plate and feel he could eventually hit with power.

Lara is the highest-rated Brewers prospect in Grand Chute. He is ranked 13th by Baseball America and 17th by MLB Pipeline.

“There was a lot of anticipation in the past about when we would finally have Gilbert on our roster and this is the year,” said Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson. “He’s still a very young man. He’s going to play shortstop and some third base for us, and you’re going to see great hands. If you hit the ball his way, you’re out. He’s very consistent defensively.

“He’s got some work to do with the bat. He has a little bit of a long swing right now, which is not uncommon for youngsters at that age. That will be a work in progress as we go.”

With shortstop Orlando Arcia expected to man the position at Miller Park for years, Lara’s future position may be third base and he may grow into a much larger man whose frame is better suited for the hot corner. For the time being, his primary position is short and Lara has been impressive defensively the first week of the season, showing good range and a powerful arm.

“Shortstop is my favorite position,” said Lara though translator Hainley Statia, the team’s hitting coach. “I really like shortstop, but I want to help the team, so if I have to play third base, I don’t mind at all.”

Lara batted .250 with two home runs and 28 RBI in 59 games of rookie league ball at Helena last year, but showed significant progress in the season’s second half, hitting .304 with 19 RBI in the final 29 games. He batted .248 with one homer and 25 RBI in 51 games in 2015 for the rookie league Arizona Brewers.

“My goal is to have a better year because last year wasn’t a great year for me,” said Lara. “I want to hit better for average and also hit a few more home runs.”

Developing Lara at the plate figures to be a high priority for Erickson and Statia, who is in his first season as Rattlers hitting coach. Lara entered last night’s game against Cedar Rapids hitting just .176 with a .222 on-base percentage and just one extra-base hit in his first 17 at-bats. He has committed three errors and one came on a routine ground ball during Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Bees.

“From last year to this year, he’s made an amazing amount of progress,” said Statia. “He’s working to stay in the middle of the field. Last year he was trying to hit home runs by pulling the ball and he’s gotten way better at using the opposite field. He did that really well in spring training.”

Lara hails from Bani in the Dominican Republic and starred in several prospects leagues there before signing with the Brewers.

“When I signed at 16, I knew it was going to be hard because I was so young,” Lara said. “But by signing so young, it gives me a chance to get to the big league when I’m still young, when I’m 21 or 22. I’ve had some struggles, but I know what my goal is and I’m going for it.”

Despite his slow start at the plate, Lara is confident that he’ll adjust to Midwest League pitching.

“I’m ready to play in this league,” said Lara. “You have to have a game plan to attack the pitchers because they throw more strikes than in amateur ball. And you have the cold weather, too, but I’m ready for that. You have to be mentally prepared to battle the cold weather for the first month or so.”


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Posted: April 18, 2017, 7:30 AM Post
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Timber Rattlers pitcher Barker inspired by hometown legend Aaron Rodgers
Tim Froberg, Appleton Post-Crescent

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Timber Rattlers pitcher Luke Barker grew up in Chico, Calif., the same hometown as Packers great Aaron Rodgers. (Photo: Danny Damiani/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

GRAND CHUTE - If one guy from Chico can make it in pro sports, so can another.

That’s the mindset of Wisconsin Timber Rattlers relief pitcher Luke Barker.

The 25-year-old Chico, California, native uses his powerful right arm to make a living, just like another fella from Chico who works a few miles up the road from Fox Cities Stadium.

I presume you’ve heard of Aaron Rodgers.

Barker grew up in the hometown of the Green Bay Packers’ prolific quarterback and still resides in the northern California city of roughly 92,000.

Both Barker and Rodgers, who are eight years apart in age, were athletic standouts at Pleasant Valley High School in Chico.

Rodgers went on to play a year of junior college football at nearby Butte Community College before transferring to the University of California and eventually becoming an NFL star.

Barker played four years of college baseball at Division II Chico State, where he was a first-team all-American in 2014. He went undrafted and was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers last December as a free agent after spending 2016 in the independent Frontier League with the Traverse City Beach Bums.

“It’s pretty cool to be right from the same town as Aaron Rodgers,” said Barker. “He’s definitely our biggest celebrity. He’s a big deal there for sure.”

Rodgers is a big deal around here, too — the face of the Packers franchise and a future NFL Hall of Famer. Barker plans to take the short road trip to Lambeau Field in the near future to check out the workplace of Chico’s favorite son.

“Have never been to Lambeau, but I’m a pretty big football fan, so I feel like I have to get up there,” Barker said.

Chico, located about 165 miles north of San Francisco, is in the heart of 49ers country and the Niners are Barker’s favorite NFL team. But it’s not hard to find a cheesehead hat or a Packers fan in Chico.

“There’s a lot of converted Packer fans, just because Aaron went to high school there and what he’s doing now,” said Barker. “Sometimes it seems like everybody back home is a Packer fan, but I’ve got to stick with the 49ers.”

Barker has never met Rodgers.

“I’ve seen him around town a few times, but that’s about it,” said Barker. “I know his brother, Jordan, a little bit, because we also went to the same school. He was a senior and I was a freshman.”

Aaron Rodgers entered Pleasant Valley High as a 5-foot-2, 120-pound freshman and exited as a still-undersized 5-11, 170-pounder with no college football scholarship offers. Rodgers threw for a school-record 2,466 yards his senior year and was also a flame-throwing pitcher with a low-90s fastball.

Despite a reported feud within his family, Rodgers hasn’t forgotten his Pleasant Valley roots. He delivered a pep talk via video to the Pleasant Valley football team last December, which the team watched before going out and winning a state championship. Rodgers also wore a Pleasant Valley baseball cap during a press conference prior to the 2015 NFC Championship Game.

“The football coaches have all his stuff in their office,” Barker said. “They have a little bit of an Aaron Rodgers shrine in there.”

Barker feels Rodgers is an inspiration not only to other student-athletes from Chico, but to anyone with a small-town background.

“It shows that guys who make it at that level come from everywhere,” Barker said. “Even a small town like Chico can produce an elite athlete like Aaron Rodgers, a guy who took the NFL by storm. It’s definitely inspiring for myself and for all of us.”

Barker hopes to be the next Chico athlete to hit it big in the pros. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound right-hander is off to a solid start in the bullpen for the Rattlers and could eventually become the team’s full-time closer. Barker is 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA, five strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.11 in 6 1/3 innings.

Barker’s “out” pitch is a split-fingered fastball and Rattlers manager Matt Erickson likes his stuff and his composure.

“He has a good split-fingered pitch and some swing-and-miss secondary stuff,” Erickson said. “And he has a little bit of feel out there. He’s a little bit of an older guy whose work ethic reflects that. He doesn’t have to be told what to do all the time and he sets a good example for our bullpen guys. Late in games when we’ve done what we think we need to do to win a game, we think we can give him the ball and he’ll get those final outs.

“He’s a guy who came out of independent ball who’s getting a chance.”

Someone gave the lightly recruited Rodgers a chance coming out of Pleasant Valley High School 16 years ago and the two-time MVP and six-time Pro Bowler took care of the rest.


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Posted: April 23, 2017, 4:06 AM Post
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Link includes a video interview, with some of the comments also in the text below --

Rattlers outfielder Demi Orimoloye has high ceiling
Tim Froberg, Appleton Post-Crescent

GRAND CHUTE – There are high-ceiling prospects and then there are those whose potential extends through the roof and into the clouds.

That's the kind of upside Demi Orimoloye has.

The 20-year-old Wisconsin Timber Rattlers outfielder has the type of tools that gets player personnel people buzzing.

Orimoloye has an impressive combination of size, strength and speed, and is an exciting player who could find a future home at Miller Park.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Orimoloye (pronounced Ora-ma-loi) has shown both power (16 home runs) and base-stealing ability (39 stolen bases) in his first 107 professional games, along with a powerful right arm. The Nigerian-born Orimoloye has so much size and athleticism to work with that some scouts have compared him physically to Bo Jackson.

"The first thing that stands out about him is his body,” said Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson. “He’s a big, explosive kid. He was raised in Canada and there’s not a tremendous amount of baseball experience in his upbringing. But you can see the upside to his game. His physical skills are impressive. We’re trying to turn his athleticism into baseball skills.”

A fourth-round draft pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015, Orimoloye is hitting .300 with five home runs and an impressive slugging percentage of .660. Making better contact (15 strikeouts in 14 games) figures to be a key for him the rest of the season.

Orimoloye, who has played primarily right field for the Rattlers, is ranked as the Brewers' 24th best prospect by MLB Pipeline and 27th by Baseball America.

Q: Is Demi a nickname? If so, how did you get it?

A: “It’s the middle part of my first name, Oluwademilade Oluwadamilola. I’ve gone by Demi pretty much my whole life.”

Q: You were born in (Lagos) Nigeria and raised in Canada. At what age did you move?

A: “I was 1 when my parents and I moved to Toronto. It was work-related. My dad is an architect and my mom works for Health Canada.”

Q: Have you returned to Africa?

A: “I went back to visit for a couple weeks when I was 6. We went back to the same city where I was born and stayed at my grandma’s house. It was fun. I can’t remember everything, but I do remember going to the corner store and getting popsicles. There is not a lot of time right now, but I’d like to go back some day.”

Q: You have a chance to become the first African-born major leaguer. What would that mean to you?

A: “That would be cool. I never knew leading up to the draft that would be a thing. It would be awesome.”

Q: What was it like growing up in the Canada?

A: “I grew up in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and it’s a nice place. I had a lot of friends. There’s a lot of hockey there."

Q: So are you a hockey guy?

A: "Baseball was always the thing for me and my friends. I never really played hockey. I’d go to an outdoor rink with my friends to skate around and play a little (hockey) for fun, but nothing serious.”

Q: With your Canadian background, few players on this team are probably better equipped for Wisconsin’s cold spring weather. How nasty were the winters in Canada?

A: “Personally, I don’t like the cold, but it’s nothing I haven’t experienced before. I remember walking to school when it was minus 33 with wind gusts. It wasn’t like that all the time, but there were days when it was pretty bad.”

Q: Did you play any other sports in high school?

A: “I played basketball from sixth grade all the way through high school. I was a power forward and center, a guy who could jump and get the rebounds. I played some football. I was a tight end and a defensive end. And I ran the 60 meters in track. But I wasn’t really recruited in other sports. I was a baseball player and everyone knew that.”

Q: You played on Canadian national teams as a teen. What type of experience was that?

A: “A lot of fun. That’s when I started taking baseball seriously. I went to Taiwan my first year for the world championships and played in Australia, Cuba, Japan, the Dominican Republic three times, Mexico and Florida a bunch of times. It was pretty exciting, just seeing what was out there in the world. I went straight from Little League to the national team and went from facing pitching that was like 83 (mph) to the 90s. The first game I played was against one of the Houston Astros teams in the fall instructional league. The first pitch I saw was like a 94-mile-per-hour sinker. I grounded out and I was so happy just to do that.”

Q: What was the most memorable place you played at?

A: “Japan, definitely. Great fans. They’re loud, but always very respectful. Taiwan was pretty cool, too. I remember once when we were in Taiwan, my teammate and I missed the bus back to the hotel. Some fan just drove us all the way back to the hotel. He was so excited to drive us.”

Q: Some scouts have compared you athletically to Bo Jackson. That’s high praise. How do you feel about that?

A: “Some of my teammates joke a little about that, calling me Bo sometimes. I’m like, ‘Aw, come on, stop.’ It’s fun when people say stuff like that, and very flattering.”

Q: What’s been your biggest challenge in pro ball so far?

A: “Learning to have a short memory. You can go 0-for-4 one day and 4-for-4 the next. If you have a bad week, there’s another one coming up. There’s always the next day.”

Q: What do you want to get to accomplish this summer in Grand Chute?

A: “Hit some home runs, steal a lot of bases and just be a great teammate. I want to win. I want to win the Midwest League and grow as a player.”

The Tool Box: “He’s one of those kids that you get at this level who’s a little younger and there are going to be a lot of challenges for him. But at the same time, dealing with some of that adversity is going to be huge for his development. He can really run. His arm strength is above average. When you come out and watch him in practice, he plays pretty loose, pretty free. In the games, he’s still a little bit tentative. Once he gets into those game situations and gains that pre-pitch knowledge, I think you’ll start to see him play a little bit faster. And it’s not just him. It’s a lot of young guys who are here. It’s going to be fun to watch Demi grow up through the season and in the next few years. I expect his baseball skills to really improve.” Matt Erickson, Timber Rattlers manager

Demi Orimoloye

Position: Outfielder

Age: 20

Residence: Orleans, Ontario

Height/weight: 6-4, 225

Bats/throws: Right/right

Acquired: Selected by Milwaukee in the fourth round of the 2015 first-year player draft.

FAVORITES

MLB team growing up: "Boston Red Sox. My Little League team was the Orleans Red Sox, so they were an easy team to follow.”

MLB player: "Probably Alex Rodriguez. I just liked to watch him hit home runs. I didn’t know that he started his career around here. I knew David Ortiz played here.”

Food: "I like Italian food a lot. Chicken parm, spaghetti and meatballs, all that stuff.”

TV show: “Right now, I’m watching Arrow on Netflix.”

Musical artist/group: Drake.

Hobbies outside baseball: "Any sport, basketball, football. I like ping pong a lot. I love watching movies."

Advice: "Take everything baseball-wise day to day.”


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
#35

Posted: April 25, 2017, 12:55 PM Post
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I live a few minutes from the TRats stadium and go to a bunch of games every year. Am I wasting my time if I were to take video of a few of the higher prospects on the team for you all to watch? I always like seeing footage of guys throwing, batting, etc from places/teams that don’t get as much video availability.

Is that valuable to any of you or would I be wasting my time?


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
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Posted: April 25, 2017, 1:16 PM Post
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Certainly valuable!


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:40 PM Post
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Link includes a video interview, with some of the comments also in the text below --

Rattlers' Berberet reviving career as pitcher
Tim Froberg, Appleton Post-Crescent

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Parker Berberet is back with the Timber Rattlers this season as he makes the transition from a catcher to a pitcher in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. (Photo: Courtesy of Ann Mollica/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers)

GRAND CHUTE – Plan A was for Parker Berberet to reach The Show as a catcher.

Plan B has been launched and Berberet has the same destination in mind, but he's looking to get to the big leagues in a different way.

The 27-year-old Milwaukee Brewers farmhand has made the switch from catcher to pitcher and has returned to Grand Chute to try to get his professional baseball career back on track.

Berberet, a right-hander, was assigned to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers two weeks ago after spending time in extended spring training to work out the kinks in his difficult position switch.

He’s off to a solid start. In three appearances and 8⅔ innings as a Rattlers relief pitcher, Berberet has a 1.04 ERA and 11 strikeouts.

“So far, so good,” said Wisconsin pitching coach Steve Cline. “The fastball comes out real good. He had a good arm when he was a catcher and so far that’s translated on the mound.”

Berberet pitched four shutout innings in relief Wednesday night, allowing two hits and striking out seven with one walk in a 13-0 loss against Kane County.

“He was really good,” said Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson. “He had good angle to his fastball and got his breaking stuff over. If he continues to do what he did that game, I don’t expect him to be around here real long.”

Berberet is encouraged with his early results on the mound. According to Cline, Berberet throws a low 90s fastball along with a curveball and slider, and is working on a changeup.

“It has been good,” said Berberet. “It’s been a work in progress and it’s great to be able to finally throw in real games. I’m happy with it, but not totally satisfied. It’s a learning process. I talk to my pitching coach a lot and I’m always trying to pick up something new as I try and grasp what he’s teaching me.

“I’m just trying to soak in as much as I can. I’m just trying to learn.”

Berberet isn’t the only Brewers minor leaguer in the midst of a switch from position player to pitcher. Another former Timber Rattler, Nick Ramirez, is also trying to reinvent himself as a pitcher after playing first base throughout his pro career. Ramirez, a left-hander who is also 27, has a 1-0 record with a 2.00 ERA in eight relief appearances for Class AA Biloxi.

“It’s a lot different than catching, but it’s been fun,” said Berberet. “It’s been kind of a nice, refreshing thing that hopefully will give new life to my career. The main thing is to keep getting better.”

The Berberet pitching experiment began midway through the 2016 season and continued in the fall instructional league.

“I actually brought it up to them (the Brewers)," said Berberet. “It was something I had been thinking about and I’m happy they gave me an option to do it. I started throwing some bullpens at the all-star break and started getting my arm conditioned for this.”

Aside from a summer league game following high school, Berberet hadn’t pitched since Little League. Berberet played his prep ball as a catcher at Esperanza High School in Anaheim, California, and hit .409 his senior season. He went on to catch at Oregon State, where he split duties behind the plate with current Brewers minor leaguer Andrew Susac, who was a second-round pick in the 2011 draft by the San Francisco Giants. Berberet was selected by the Brewers in the same draft, 23 rounds later.

“It’s been a long time since I have pitched,” Berberet said. “But I’m a pitcher now and it doesn’t look like I’m going back to catching, except for maybe an emergency situation. The toughest part, I think, has been just staying ready as a relief pitcher and not knowing when you’re going to be put in. If the phone goes off in the bullpen and your name is called, you’ve got to be ready.”

Berberet was always regarded as a strong defensive catcher who kept running games in check with his powerful arm, but didn’t make enough impact at the plate to become a top prospect. In six minor league seasons and 343 pro games as a catcher and first baseman, Berberet hit .247 with 21 homers and 132 RBI. He advanced as high as Class AAA last season when he played in four games with Colorado Springs.

Berberet’s experience as a catcher can only help his transition to the mound.

“I’ve caught a lot of guys the last six years and I’ve been able to see them go through their routines and observe what they do,” Berberet said. “I’ve learned a lot about them without even knowing I was going to be a pitcher some day. I think I know what it takes to prepare myself, just based on what I’ve seen throughout my career.”

Cline added: “I think his knowledge as a catcher will help him with sequencing. Of course, he needs to do the ground level stuff first, the basics. One of the biggest things he has to learn is the workload and understand how much throwing you actually end up doing in a throwing program and with some of your drills.”

Berberet is not a new face to Erickson. He spent the 2013 season with the Timber Rattlers as a catcher, hitting .257 with seven homers and 35 RBI, while impressing Erickson with his intelligence and approach to the game.

“His arm strength is what intrigued people all along and it’s good to see him getting another chance to extend his career,” Erickson said. “People might think he’s a long shot, but it’s kind of a long shot just to be able to play minor league baseball.

“He’s got a good head on his shoulders and he’ll work at it. If he doesn’t make it, it won’t be because of his work ethic. He’s a great kid and you want to give someone like that every opportunity possible. I wish him well.”


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
#38

Posted: April 28, 2017, 12:01 PM Post
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Monte Harrison: Power in Adjustments
Jack Conness, BP Milwaukee

Fantastic work here by Jack (and Monte, of course!)

***

Toolshed: Harrison finally finding his groove
Brewers No. 22 prospect thriving after two injury-riddled seasons
By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com


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Posted: April 30, 2017, 4:09 AM Post
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Link includes a video interview, with some of the comments also in the text below --

Rattlers' Roegner is home-state product
Tim Froberg, Appleton Post-Crescent

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Timber Rattlers pitcher Cameron Roegner is a Beloit native. (Photo: Courtesy of Ann Mollica/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers)


GRAND CHUTE – As a second-year pitcher, Cameron Roegner is getting an education in how to get professional hitters out.

But when it comes to all things Wisconsin, Roegner is no longer the inquisitive student. He’s the clubhouse expert and go-to source among Wisconsin Timber Rattlers players for any questions about the food, beverages, customs and culture of the Badger state.

Roegner grew up in Beloit, less than 70 miles from Miller Park, and was a multi-sport athlete at Beloit Memorial High School. The 6-foot-6 left-hander is the lone home-state product on the Timber Rattlers' roster.

Roegner has pitched both as a starter and out of the bullpen and is coming off a promising rookie season in the Milwaukee organization. In 14 games and 41 innings last season with the Arizona Brewers (rookie league) and the Helena Brewers (advanced rookie league), Roegner had a combined 2-3 record with a 3.07 ERA and 27 strikeouts.

Q: What’s it like being the lone Cheesehead on the team?

A: “It’s been fun. Everyone thinks I don’t eat anything but cheese. Our first day here we got a nice care package from one of the Fox Cities organizations and there were some cheese curds in there. Some of the guys weren’t sure about the squeakiness. You know how fresh cheese curds have that little squeak to them. All of a sudden, there’s bags of cheese curds flying at me. We’re having a good time.”

Q: So how cool is it for a Wisconsin guy like yourself to be playing in the Brewers organization?

A: “It’s a dream come true to be in this organization and a blessing. You grow up as a fan of the Brewers and then you get here and realize how many good people are in this organization. Playing in the Midwest League is awesome. I can’t wait to play at Beloit near the end of May.”

Q: What was your draft day experience like?

A: "Leading up to the draft, I didn’t think I’d get drafted by the Brewers. I had filled out quite a few questionnaires from teams, but the Brewers weren’t one of them. But then, right before the draft, I got word that they had my info and would be looking for me on draft day. I was at home with my family during the draft, sitting in the living room. And to hear, 'Cam Roegner to the Brewers,' I’ll never forget that. I had goose bumps. It was pretty surreal.”

Q: Has your family been here to watch you pitch?

A: “My mom and dad (Matt and Sarah Roegner) are here a lot. Even if I’m not pitching, they will come up for a weekend series, because they love baseball. I love having them around. That support is really nice. They've always been at all my games."

Q: How big of a Brewers fan were you growing up?

A: “Pretty big. Baseball season is busy at all ages and we were usually very busy during the summer with baseball. But we usually went to at least one Brewers game a year, sometimes two or three. At home we always had the game on, whether it was on TV or the radio.”

Q: Was there an all-time favorite Brewers game that you attended?

A: “One of my most special memories at a Brewers game came when Jeromy Burnitz was playing for them. We had seats along the right-field line and he tossed me a foul ball. It was the first ball I’ve ever caught at a big league game, so that was pretty special to me.”

Q: Are you a Bucks and Packers fan, too?

A: “Absolutely, especially the last few years with the Bucks. I’m a big Bucks fan and pretty excited about what they have going now and with the young talent they have in Giannis (Antetokounmpo), Khris Middleton and (Malcolm) Brogdon. I went to a couple games in the offseason. And obviously, the Packers have been very good historically, so it’s pretty hard to not be a Cheesehead.”

Q: Did you play any other sports besides baseball at Beloit Memorial?

A: “I played football my first year, but I quit that and started playing volleyball in the fall. Played basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring, and sprinkled in some golf when I could.”

Q: You’re a big guy. You could have been a huge target at tight end. Why did you drop football?

A: “Oh, you should have seen me in high school. I’m thin now, but I’ve probably put on 50 pounds since high school. I would have gotten crushed on the football field. That’s why I went to volleyball, just to stay healthy. I really liked volleyball. I used to joke that I was a better volleyball player than baseball player. But there’s not as many pro opportunities in volleyball and I had more connections in the baseball world.”

Q: Did you play any other positions in baseball and do you miss hitting?

A: “I played a little first base. I do miss hitting high school pitching. But when I’m there charting games with the radar gun, stepping into the batter’s box against guys throwing in the mid-90s doesn’t look like that much fun.”

Q: You had Tommy John surgery following your freshman year at Bradley. How difficult of an experience was that?

A: “That was tough. Any injury that keeps you off the field for 12 months is tough. But it was a good time for it to happen. Had it come my junior or senior year right before the draft, that would have been really tough. I was just getting started in college baseball and it wasn’t like I was THE guy or anything.

“I had some elbow problems in high school, so it was good to get it taken care of right away. It took about 12 months before I was back on the mound and about 19 months before I was 100 percent. There was definitely some adversity there, but I'm healthy now and better for it."

Q: You have a degree in finance from Bradley. Is that your backup plan?

A: “I try not to think about that. I try and focus on what I do now, but it’s definitely nice to have a degree because you never know what’s around the corner. You go out and compete every day, but you never know what kind of breaks are going to come your way. So, yeah, it’s definitely nice to have a little bit of security there.”

Q: What’s your MO on the mound? Do you try and pitch to contact? Throw the ball by hitters?

A: “The big thing I try and do is keep the walks down and make the hitters earn everything. A good hitter wins three out of 10 times and you have to try and make them earn everything. I just try and fill up the zone. There may be some strikeouts in there and there may be some quick ground ball outs. Whatever the team needs.”

Q: As a pitcher, what’s been the toughest part about going from college to the pros?

A: “There are threats up and down the lineup. You have to be worried about everyone one through nine. They’re all here for a reason, to play pro ball. And as a starting pitcher, it’s been different going from a seven-man rotation in college to a five-man rotation. In college, you get two or three days off before you throw your bullpen. Here, you get like one day off and you’re throwing your bullpen."

THE TOOL BOX

In spring training, you could see he had some pretty good awareness and good body control for a big, long left-handed pitcher. There’s some athleticism there. He’s able to field his position and handles the running game well. He’s got a good pickoff move as well as the long, lean body which helps him get angle on his fastball and flip a breaking ball over." Matt Erickson, Timber Rattlers manager

A CLOSER LOOK

Cameron Roegner

Position: Pitcher.

Age: 23.

Residence: Beloit.

Height/weight: 6-6, 210.

Bats/throws: Left/left.

Acquired: Selected by Milwaukee in the 22nd round of the 2016 first-year player draft.

FAVORITES

MLB team growing up: "Milwaukee Brewers.”

MLB player: “There were a lot of guys. I was a big Prince Fielder fan when he was with Milwaukee. He came through Beloit as well with the Snappers, so I got to see him up close and in person. I liked Prince, (Ryan) Braun, Rickie Weeks.”

Food, meal: “I like burgers. Burgers and fries are my favorite meal.”

Musical group/artist: “It varies a lot. I’d say Future right now. But when summer comes around, I get more into country.”

TV show: “It’s always sunny in Philadelphia.”

Movie: “Shutter Island.”

Hobbies outside baseball: “Video games. Just hanging out with my buddies.”

Place to go in Appleton: “We’ve been on the road a lot since I’ve been here, so I haven’t had a chance to explore much. They have some pretty good burgers at The Bar and at Milwaukee Burger Co., too.”

Advice: “Try and be the best player on your team at all times. Don’t worry about getting moved up. Just try and be the best player wherever you are and good things will happen.”


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Offline  Re: Your 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
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Posted: May 03, 2017, 11:12 PM Post
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Frosty Microbrews: Feliciano Doesn't Use Youth As An Excuse
By Kyle Lobner / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

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