Some things to read while it finally ends.
Today is the 35th day of spring training and the Brewers enter on a hot streak, having beaten the Rockies 4-3 yesterday for their third consecutive win. We've got the recap, if you missed it.
Yesterday was a bullpen day and another chance for the Brewers to evaluate Rule 5 pick Wei-Chung Wang. He started the game and pitched 2.2 innings, allowing three runs (his first of the spring) on five hits. @AdamMcCalvy also reports he was hilarious in his postgame interview.
Wang has been one of the breakout stars of spring and appears to be a near-lock to make the Opening Day roster, but what should we expect once he gets to Milwaukee? Noah attempted to temper expectations for the 21-year-old lefty yesterday.
Other notes from the field:
- Ryan Braun was out of the lineup for the second straight day on Thursday and Ron Roenicke told reporters he's not feeling well.
- Juan Francisco entered the game late yesterday and drove in the winning run with one of his two walks. @joe_block notes that he's drawn eight walks compared to nine strikeouts this spring. Five of those free passes have come in the last two days.
- Adam McCalvy talked to Jean Segura about attempting to focus on baseball amidst rumors about a possible new contract.
The Brewers continue on their road trip today with a visit to Surprise at 3:05 Central time. Yovani Gallardo will face Tanner Scheppers in one of his final spring tuneups. With a win, the Brewers would improve to 12-12 on the spring.
Meanwhile, we won't be seeing Matt Garza back in an MLB game this weekend. He'll make another scheduled start in minor league camp on Sunday, in what will likely be his second-to-last preseason appearance. Jaymes Langrehr of Disciples of Uecker looked at expectations for him as part of his preview of the top of the rotation.
The Brewers have a few more spring games left to evaluate candidates for the last couple of spots, but the Opening Day roster appears all but decided at this point. The Brewer Nation has a projection with Alfredo Figaro, Rob Wooten, Juan Francisco and Jeff Bianchi in and Tyler Thornburg, Lyle Overbay and Elian Herrera out.
There's no controversy to be had at catcher, where barring injury Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado will return to occupy the two roster spots. Andrew Gruman of FS Wisconsin took a break from covering the NCAA tournament to post a preview of the position.
Most roster projections continue to show both Scooter Gennett and Rickie Weeks with the team on Opening Day. Combined, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs says they make up baseball's 20th best collection of second basemen. Sullivan also ranks Aramis Ramirez and the Brewers' third basemen 16th.
While the Brewers get ready for Opening Day, today we bid a fond farewell to players leaving the organization. The Brewers announced a bunch of minor league releases yesterday, including the following:
- Reliever Santo Manzanillo, a one-time member of the 40-man roster who pitched in 46 games for Brevard County and Huntsville last season.
- Catcher Tyler Roberts, a tenth round pick in 2009 who caught 33 games for Wisconsin in 2013.
- First baseman Adam Giacalone, a 16th round pick in 2012, who played 107 games and hit .286/.372/.367 for Helena and Wisconsin in 2013.
- Middle infielder Renaldo Jenkins, a 19th round pick in 2011 who played in 45 games for Helena in 2013.
- Pitcher Taylor Wall, a 22nd round pick in 2012 who pitched in 33 games for Wisconsin in 2013.
- Outfielder Ben McMahan, a 23rd round pick in 2011 who played in 72 games for Brevard County in 2013.
- Reliever Jono Armold, a 30th round pick in the 2012 draft who appeared in 23 games for Wisconsin in 2013.
- First baseman Jesse Weiss, a 36th round pick in 2013 who played in 15 games for Helena in 2013.
- First/third baseman Jalen Harris, a 41st round pick in 2011 who played in 52 games for Helena in 2013.
- Eduard Reyes, a Dominican pitcher who appeared in 15 games for Helena in 2013.
- Pitcher Alan Williams, a former independent leaguer who pitched in 18 games for Arizona, Wisconsin and Huntsville in 2013.
- Catcher Brent Dean, a former non-drafted free agent who caught 14 games between Wisconsin and Brevard County in 2013.
- Wisconsin native and pitcher R.J. Seidel, whose release we already mentioned earlier this week.
Elsewhere in the minors:
- MLB.com unveiled their list of the top 20 prospects in the Brewers organization yesterday, led by Jimmy Nelson, Tyrone Taylor and Devin Williams.
- In a related note, Jim Callis of MLB.com visited minor league camp and has a post on the state of the organization.
- 2013 Huntsville Star Mike Walker is in Australia playing for the country's national team in their exhibitions against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks this week. He had a pair of hits in a 4-2 loss Thursday. (h/t @Mass_Haas).
- Back in Arizona, Brad Krause of Miller Park Prospects was in minor league camp on Thursday, talked to 2013 Wisconsin and Brevard County reliever Damien Magnifico and shared his photo gallery.
- Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has a look at the specialty jerseys Wisconsin will wear in 2014.
- Speaking of the Timber Rattlers, on Thursday they announced they've signed a deal with Fox Communities Credit Union for the naming rights to their club level.
Back in Milwaukee, the sports world's main focus this week remains on the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Two of the 35 entries into the Brew Crew Ball Bracket challenge went a perfect 16-for-16 in the tournament's first day, putting them roughly 25% of the way to winning a billion dollars. If you'd like to compare your picks to your favorite Brewer's, John Steinmiller and Caitlin Moyer have you covered.
Today in predictions, projections and whatnot:
- The Giants Baseball Blog previewed the NL Central and has the Brewers finishing second.
- Michael Clair of MLB Daily Dish would likely disagree. In his preview he says "There's no questioning it, the Brewers are entering a down period for the team."
Athletics: Claimed outfielder Kent Matthes off waivers from the Rockies.
Blue Jays: Claimed outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo off waivers from the Diamondbacks and released reliever Luis Perez.
Orioles: Signed reliever Luis Ayala to a minor league deal.
Reds: Reliever Aroldis Chapman will be out 6-8 weeks while recovering from facial fractures suffered when he was hit by a line drive.
Tuiasosopo was in Australia with the Diamondbacks when he found out he'd been claimed off waivers, so that could make for an awkward trip home.
Today in former Brewers: Nick Michalski of The Brewers Bar was none too impressed with Corey Hart's comments to reporters on Wednesday and says he hopes we've heard the last of Hart's whining.
Today in baseball economics: Ticket sales are way down in Philadelphia this season, including a drop of over 5000 fans in their season ticket base.
Today's sabermetric note comes from FanGraphs, where Jeff Sullivan takes a look at a long-standing question: Why don't more hitters bunt against the shift?
- 2013 Wisconsin Timber Rattler Rodolfo Fernandez, who turns 24.
- 2013 Nashville Sound Johnnie Lowe, who turns 29.
- 1990-93 Brewer Tim McIntosh, who turns 49.
- Seattle Pilot Tommy Davis, who turns 75. We covered his birthday in Today In Brewer History two years ago.
Plunk Everyone notes that Davis' 32 career HBP are the fourth-most ever for a player born on March 21.
Today is also the 36th anniversary of the Brewers releasing infielder Ed Kirkpatrick, one of the last major leaguers ever to debut before their 18th birthday. We covered that event in Today In Brewer History last year.
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to get out of here.