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Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do

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Offline  Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
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Posted: December 12, 2020, 6:00 AM Post
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It struck me that the Brewers have a ton of work to do in terms of picking up bodies on the farm. Like seriously, a lot of work to do just to field teams, never mind competitive teams. More to do than I can ever remember in a winter offseason. We should be seeing a whole slew of minor league free agent and indy league signings.

Much of this is necessitated because of the larger-than-usual number of releases this past spring and summer. That list begins here, and if you scroll down at that link, you'll see several similar posts from within our transaction thread.

I'm going to focus on the position player side here. The Brewers aren't swimming in pitching bodies, but there are multiple promising quality arms, and while the raw number of pitchers isn't overflowing, I may follow-up with a separate post on the pitching ledger side of things. But it's not the issue it is with the bats.

But let's agree that the organization does need to fill uniforms at four different levels to begin full-season minor league seasons (even if delayed by a month or so by Covid), and my goodness, position players, the Help Wanted sign is posted in Brewerland.

40-Man Roster Help for the Farm:

OK, so Mario Feliciano is a good start. Among other catchers, we'll place Luke Maile in the minors simply based on his option remaining. Corey Ray, and we'll place Mark Mathias on the 40-man yo-yo, so that's four players for the farm.

Side note: You had just as many big league walks as Mathias did in 2020. Considering he has had a strong walk rate in the minors, zero walks in 36 AB's screams fluke, but imagine if the Crew had combined into one body Mr. Base On Balls Jace Peterson and Mathias. But, I digress...

So, just how many position players will the Crew need?

Nashville, Biloxi, Wisconsin, Carolina (yes, in that order top-to-bottom) - Online buzz indicates that minor league rosters may be as high as 30 players in 2021, mainly to protect young arms that weren't stretched out in 2020. While some organizations may go with a 17-to-13 pitchers vs. position player split, let's assume it will be 16-to-14. So the Crew will need 56 position players ready to play above the rookie ball level. We filled four of those spots above, so we need to fill 52 more spots.

Link to current AAA roster:

OK, a reminder this being called "AAA" is deceiving. These players are on this page because they were placed on the AAA roster to be protected from being scooped up for almost nothing in the Rule 5 Minor League Phase of the draft. Disregard Ryon Healy (set to play in Korea) and Angel Ortega (restricted list since after the 2017 season).

There are 14 position players listed here, and yes, regardless of career path thus far, we'll place all 14 on a full-season roster. Organizational soldiers, roster filler (hate both of those terms, I'm sorry), but we know we have to fill slots here. It's just necessary, plain and simple.

So now we're up to 18 of 56.

Link to current AA roster:

Hi Brice! Yup, that's it. One position player.

19 of 56 filled.

Link to current High-A roster:

Hey, we like those three guys! But that's the thing, it's three. I think you're starting to get the picture now.

22 of 56 filled.

Link to current Low-A roster:

Nine players, some more prominent than others, but sure, we'll add each to the pool.

31 of 56 filled, and remember, we're assuming all 56 will be healthy.

Link to Rookie-Level (2019 Rocky Mountain Vibes roster):

Seven players, and while a few may be on the very fringes of the Low-A roster, we'll place all seven on a full-season team. That's probably a bit generous, but OK.

38 of 56.

Link to Rookie-Level (2019 Maryvale "Blue" roster):

Link to Rookie-Level (2019 Maryvale "Gold" roster):

Yes, there is some volume here. This includes the smallish 2020 draft class (five picks and a couple of post-draft signings, all college-aged level). So at minimum those seven will debut at low-A Carolina in 2021. Sprinkle in a couple of others, a possible direct jump from the Dominican Summer League to Low-A, and it appears we're at:

48 of 56.

But is that a true number? Not really. First of all, the low-A Carolina roster can only hold so much, and a higher % of identified possibilities really should begin there. Then, you've got the matter of position need, along with placing players at an appropriate level for their talent, or at least within reason.

So, given, health factors and what I just described, I will generously say the organization currently has 42 of the 56 position players needed to begin full-season play in 2021.

***

Conclusion - First of all, David Stearns, Matt Arnold, Tom Flanagan are all aware of this. I'm not breaking news here. We've seen prior minor league off-seasons where bringing in five free agent/independent players for full-season teams was fresh, because that was a significant number. This winter? We're talking upwards of 15.

So this is just letting folks know the minor league transaction wire is going to be buzzing the next four months, because, well, it simply has to be this time around. We will fawn (or yawn) over signings of 27-30 year-olds that could end up on a Justin Topa trajectory, but that is so much tougher to find on the position-player side.

Via Baseball America on November 2nd -- Full List of 2020-2021 MiLB Free Agents

You would have thought that the Crew would have already entered those free agent waters more (so far, Jamie Westbrook and Zach Green, but that's been it.

Not sure why it's fun to be a transaction maven even on the furthest reaches of the organization, but I've heard from many of you who enjoy it (it's an odd and unique fascination, isn't it?).

Let the fun begin.


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Offline  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
#2

Posted: December 12, 2020, 9:56 AM Post
Posts: 1479
Location: Ohio
I think you are being a little premature here. Yes some work needs to be done but there are other factors still in play.

The minor league situation is still being determined. While there is an idea of which milb clubs will go with which MLB organization, the overall setup & number of allowed players stateside is still in flux. JJ Cooper was originally reporting that the number was 150 stateside players in the minors. Now he is reporting the number is being closer to 180.. Either way there has traditionally been a ton of players (30 to 40+ depending on organization) in extended spring training & while those names were not part of rosters in the past, they would count toward the number of stateside players.

JJ Cooper was reporting over the past week that its likely another month until all the various milb details have been worked out & get announced. Once that happens there will likely be another round of cuts/ releases as clubs get themselves down to the player limits (or lower for signing others). For a number of MLB clubs (especially those that had multiple complex league teams along with short-season/ rookie groups) that upcoming round of cuts could be upwards of 25 to 30 (or more) more players per MLB organization.. It was my understanding the with the various changes, each MLB club would have 4 full season affiliates & 1 stateside complex team moving forward.

I realize its an older listing but take a look at the farm setup in 2019.. https://www.baseball-reference.com/regi ... ?year=2019
Even if we approximated 28 players at each stateside group for MKE & another 24 in extended spring training & on injury lists, MKE had roughly 220 players stateside (in 2019). Yes there has been some attrition since then but (as you noted) there was also a small draft & post draft signings last summer. I suspect the overall number is still close to that rough 220 estimate.

Until the final details are worked out/ announced, I can see MKE mainly waiting to see those final items before taking much action...


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Offline  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
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Posted: December 12, 2020, 10:49 AM Post
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MadThinker88 said:
It was my understanding the with the various changes, each MLB club would have 4 full season affiliates & 1 stateside complex team moving forward.


More recent reports indicate clubs will be allowed to field two teams at the complex level (Maryvale in the Brewers' case).

MadThinker88 said:
I realize its an older listing but take a look at the farm setup in 2019.. https://www.baseball-reference.com/regi ... ?year=2019
Even if we approximated 28 players at each stateside group for MKE & another 24 in extended spring training & on injury lists, MKE had roughly 220 players stateside (in 2019). Yes there has been some attrition since then but (as you noted) there was also a small draft & post draft signings last summer. I suspect the overall number is still close to that rough 220 estimate.


Still at 220? You said stateside, so I doubt you are counting the Dominican Summer League kids. They don't factor into the conversation at this time.

All we have to do is count the players listed in the links provided above and if we add four position players and five pitchers from the 40-man roster, there are 155 players in the Milwaukee stateside minor league system right now, 85 pitchers and 70 position players.

That's with a big proportion of that number coming from the Maryvale complex.

I stand by my message, lots of work to do to sign AAA and AA capable position players in particular.


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Offline  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
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Posted: December 12, 2020, 10:53 AM Post
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Trying to put together teams based on players in the system, a few things have become apparent (I am assuming no roster changes in full season, so 12 hitters per team):

1. High-A and A ball will likely be pretty fluid. I think a lot of 2019 college picks are going to be skipping low A (Holt, Hamilton, Kahle, possibly Devanney and Nnebe).

2. They have plenty of players to fill the low-A teams. I count 13 outfielders who should be at one of those levels, plus the possibility that Perez gets pushed to full-season ball. For the infield spots, I count 11 plus two who are borderline A/rookie, plus Garcia, who is in a similar situation to Perez. And of course, they have enough catchers

3. For the upper levels, I've got four catchers, two first basemen, two AAA third basemen, one or two middle infielders depending on Mathias, five outfielders and Wilson, who could conceivably slot in as an infielder or outfielder. Plus I guess they could toss one or two of the more veteran guys who belong at High-A here in a sink-or-swim scenario. Barring that, though, even not accounting for injuries, it would seem they need four middle infielders, an outfielder, either another outfielder or a third baseman, depending on Wilson, and one miscellaneous hitter.


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Online  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
#5

Posted: December 12, 2020, 4:32 PM Post
Posts: 661
Location: Milwaukee
Mass Haas said:
All we have to do is count the players listed in the links provided above and if we add four position players and five pitchers from the 40-man roster, there are 155 players in the Milwaukee stateside minor league system right now, 85 pitchers and 70 position players.

That's with a big proportion of that number coming from the Maryvale complex.

I stand by my message, lots of work to do to sign AAA and AA capable position players in particular.

I dont think the Brewers are that far off. First of all, there are players missing from the rosters that should be listed. I count 11 hitters and 8 pitchers missing that should be stateside and listed. Some are clear omissions like Vassalotti, Westbrook, J. Gray, Alex Hall, Zach Clark, Devanny, and Bello. I'm not too sure about these but I dont recall seeing they were let go: C. Leal, M. Wilson, Cipion, E. Martinex, J. Cabrera, T. Gillies, Schanuel, C. Sierra, Milligan, Begue, Yi, and Uribe.

I count about 25 players that could be at AAA and AA each. So they will sign a few minor league free agents but probably not that many more than usual. A+, A should be fine. Plenty of players are available from the Rookie leagues that can fill positions.

I think the minors is going to be very different than in years past. With the elimination of the Rookie and short season leagues, teams will want to get these players into games sooner. Sure there will be the Arizona complex, but that is less likely to be as structured. So you will see a watering down of the talent that we are used to seeing. Low A is going to have more younger players from the rookie leagues and recent draft picks and so on up. Plus, we dont know how teams are going to evaluate 2020. Some players played in independent leagues and probably worked with trainers and some players watched TV and ate Cheetos all summer long. We will likely see players who were in Low A in 2019 be pushed to AA in 2021 as they would have normally progressed if 2020 would have been played.


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Offline  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
#6

Posted: December 12, 2020, 5:59 PM Post
Posts: 681
ClosetBrewerFan said:
Mass Haas said:
All we have to do is count the players listed in the links provided above and if we add four position players and five pitchers from the 40-man roster, there are 155 players in the Milwaukee stateside minor league system right now, 85 pitchers and 70 position players.

That's with a big proportion of that number coming from the Maryvale complex.

I stand by my message, lots of work to do to sign AAA and AA capable position players in particular.

I dont think the Brewers are that far off. First of all, there are players missing from the rosters that should be listed. I count 11 hitters and 8 pitchers missing that should be stateside and listed. Some are clear omissions like Vassalotti, Westbrook, J. Gray, Alex Hall, Zach Clark, Devanny, and Bello. I'm not too sure about these but I dont recall seeing they were let go: C. Leal, M. Wilson, Cipion, E. Martinex, J. Cabrera, T. Gillies, Schanuel, C. Sierra, Milligan, Begue, Yi, and Uribe.

I count about 25 players that could be at AAA and AA each. So they will sign a few minor league free agents but probably not that many more than usual. A+, A should be fine. Plenty of players are available from the Rookie leagues that can fill positions.

I think the minors is going to be very different than in years past. With the elimination of the Rookie and short season leagues, teams will want to get these players into games sooner. Sure there will be the Arizona complex, but that is less likely to be as structured. So you will see a watering down of the talent that we are used to seeing. Low A is going to have more younger players from the rookie leagues and recent draft picks and so on up. Plus, we dont know how teams are going to evaluate 2020. Some players played in independent leagues and probably worked with trainers and some players watched TV and ate Cheetos all summer long. We will likely see players who were in Low A in 2019 be pushed to AA in 2021 as they would have normally progressed if 2020 would have been played.


Clark retired, I think Yi was cut and Leal hasn't been around for awhile, but I think you're right on the rest.

I'm curious how you're getting to 25 at AA and AAA, especially if you're taking positions into account at all. Even if you force some of the minor league veterans like Garcia, Piniero, Coca and Lujano up to AA to fill spots, there simply aren't enough hitters, especially in the middle infield. Taking into account the inevitable injuries, it seems 8-10 hitters are needed, plus possibly a couple of pitchers for injury depth.


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Offline  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
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Posted: December 12, 2020, 8:34 PM Post
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ClosetBrewerFan said:
First of all, there are players missing from the rosters that should be listed. I count 11 hitters and 8 pitchers missing that should be stateside and listed. Some are clear omissions like Vassalotti, Westbrook, J. Gray, Alex Hall, Zach Clark, Devanny, and Bello. I'm not too sure about these but I don't recall seeing they were let go: C. Leal, M. Wilson, Cipion, E. Martinez, J. Cabrera, T. Gillies, Schanuel, C. Sierra, Milligan, Begue, Yi, and Uribe.


You're confusing me. All the players in bold were listed on the Rocky Mountain roster I linked to and factored into my analysis. Catcher Jhonnys Cabrera is only 18 and in the DSL.

Correct on Clark's retirement, CheeseheadInQC, and on Yi's release and Leal never made it back from shoulder surgeries, he's no longer affiliated with the organization.


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Online  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
#8

Posted: December 12, 2020, 10:28 PM Post
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Location: Milwaukee
My mistake. Thanks for the correction. I totally missed loading the rocky mountain team. That makes sense. This is what I have for the AAA and AA rosters. Obviously, these are just my opinions, but the A+/A teams dont have much room so these players need to go somewhere.
Pos AAA AA
C: M. Feliciano, P. Henry
BC: Freitas, D. Fry
1B: Spanberger, L. Castro
2B: Mathias, TBD
SS: TBD, Turang
3B: Erceg, W. Wilson
LF: R.Aguilar, A. Palma
CF: Cory Ray, T. Lutz
RF: Hummel, TBD
DH: Z. Green, T. Dillard (I'm counting his 2020 Appleton time as development, but this is a stretch)
BIF: TBD, A. Ortega
BOF: Westbrook, TBD
PH: TBD, B. Diaz

A guy like M.Wilson or A.Nnebe could get pushed to AA for OF depth but that would be a stretch. This leaves 6 minor league free agents need to be signed, may be a few more for depth. Pitching is in better shape, though I'm sure the brewers will take a flier on a minor league vet or two.

AAA pitching (15): Z. Brown, Bettinger, D. File, B. Francis, Leo Crawford, M. Sanchez, Bickford, Jankins, Derby, Feyereisen, L. Contreras, L.Barker, A. Perdomo, Torres-Costa, C.Andrews (I'm high on him). Names will vary depending on who make the Brewers bullpen.

AA pitching (15): B. Webb, Zavolas, Sunitsch, E. Small, A. Ashby, J.T. Hintzen, J. Cousins, M. Hardy, Jesus Castillo, Strzelecki, T. Gillies, R. Hitt, Kenilvort, N.Kirby, Beckman.

6-8 minor league free agents does not seem too much out of the norm. A few more than usual, but likely because they will have larger bullpens to protect the pitching.


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Offline  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
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Posted: December 12, 2020, 10:44 PM Post
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I've got mostly the same names as you, albeit in different places, and with Maile instead of Freitas. Two exceptions: Ortega is on the restricted list and on the roster in name only and given that they sounded pleased with Dillard's development behind the plate I think he and Fry are an either-or duo with one at AA and one at high-A. That's how I got to eight, plus you'll might see a couple extra brought in to cover spring training injuries.


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Offline  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
#10

Posted: December 23, 2020, 8:55 PM Post
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I'm hoping a couple of the guys they cut come back.

Michael Mediavilla had some good numbers in 2018 and 2019...


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Offline  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
#11

Posted: January 28, 2021, 9:28 AM Post

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the brewers just invited their sixth minor leaguer to big league camp. at this point last year, they had nine invitees.


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Offline  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
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Posted: March 17, 2021, 8:05 AM Post

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considering that tim lopes and mark mathias are both out with injuries, the brewers are probably going to need some infield help for the april alternate training site roster and the class aaa nashville roster in (hopefully) may. will it come in the form of younger players from "early camp", or via a free agent signing?


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Online  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
#13

Posted: March 17, 2021, 5:38 PM Post
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The Brewers really had no true SS for AAA this year. In the short term, Turang will likely play SS for Alternate training camp. When AAA starts it could be a rotation of Reyes and Jace though that would be pretty ugly. It would not surprise me for them to pick up a true SS for AAA.


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Offline  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
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Posted: March 17, 2021, 6:12 PM Post
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ClosetBrewerFan said:
The Brewers really had no true SS for AAA this year. In the short term, Turang will likely play SS for Alternate training camp. When AAA starts it could be a rotation of Reyes and Jace though that would be pretty ugly. It would not surprise me for them to pick up a true SS for AAA.


I also appears the Brewers have moved Westbrook back to second base, so he would likely be the third middle infielder. And yes, that makes the AAA defense look potentially sketchy, although to be fair shortstop wouldn't have been the ideal spot for Lopes or Mathias either.

Between File's injury and Bettinger and Brown needing to be shut down at various times, the starting pitching depth has taken a beating as well.


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Offline  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
#15

Posted: March 18, 2021, 10:04 AM Post

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CheeseheadInQC said:
ClosetBrewerFan said:
The Brewers really had no true SS for AAA this year. In the short term, Turang will likely play SS for Alternate training camp. When AAA starts it could be a rotation of Reyes and Jace though that would be pretty ugly. It would not surprise me for them to pick up a true SS for AAA.

Between File's injury and Bettinger and Brown needing to be shut down at various times, the starting pitching depth has taken a beating as well.

don't forget thomas jankins has been shut down with a flexor strain.

because there likely won't be any exhibition games in april, the alternate training site roster will just have to get intrasquad work in.

i'm hoping that the brewers and white sox alternate training site teams will be able to play an exhibition series or two at american family field while the brewers are on the road. milwaukee is nearly equidistant from grand chute and schaumburg.


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Offline  Re: Brewers Have Lots of Minor League Free Agent Work To Do
#16

Posted: March 18, 2021, 5:52 PM Post
Posts: 12658
djoctagone said:
CheeseheadInQC said:
ClosetBrewerFan said:
The Brewers really had no true SS for AAA this year. In the short term, Turang will likely play SS for Alternate training camp. When AAA starts it could be a rotation of Reyes and Jace though that would be pretty ugly. It would not surprise me for them to pick up a true SS for AAA.

Between File's injury and Bettinger and Brown needing to be shut down at various times, the starting pitching depth has taken a beating as well.

don't forget thomas jankins has been shut down with a flexor strain.

because there likely won't be any exhibition games in april, the alternate training site roster will just have to get intrasquad work in.

i'm hoping that the brewers and white sox alternate training site teams will be able to play an exhibition series or two at american family field while the brewers are on the road. milwaukee is nearly equidistant from grand chute and schaumburg.


I hope they play in both Schaumburg and Grand Chute. I'm 10 minutes from Wintrust Field in Schaumburg. Illinois Gov just announced that state is on verge of allowing up to 60% of capacity for sporting events with anyone with proof he or she has had both doses or the one dose of the J and J not counting toward the 60%. Supposed to take effect once 70% of seniors have had at least one dose. That should happen in next couple weeks.


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