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Brewers Claim RHP Steve Geltz off Waivers; Designate OF/1B Adam Walker for Assignment

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He spent 2016 with the Tampa Bay Rays.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers announced a roster move via their Twitter account earlier today, claiming right handed reliever Steve Geltz off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays. Geltz had been designated for assignment by Tampa Bay on November 18th in advance of the Rule 5 protection deadline. In order to make room for Geltz on the 40 man roster, Milwaukee native Adam Brett Walker was designated for assignment less than two weeks after he became a Brewer.

Geltz turned 29 earlier this month and began his career in 2008, signing with the Angels as an undrafted free agent. He debuted in the big leagues with Los Angeles in 2012 and was traded to Tampa Bay for Dane de la Rosa in March of 2013, and had been with the Rays ever since then. Last season in Tampa, Geltz pitched to a 5.74 ERA and 7.91 FIP across 26.2 innings, striking out 23 batters against 9 walks.

Geltz has pitched parts of four seasons in The Show and all together he owns a 4.23 ERA but a 5.36 FIP across 104.1 innings. He’s generated a career 10.4% swinging strike rate and has struck out 99 batters at the big league level (8.5 K/9), but he has also struggled with walks (career 3.7 BB/9). Geltz is an extreme fly ball pitcher (28.8% career ground ball rate) and has allowed hard contact nearly 35% of the time in the big leagues, which has helped give him a home run rate that would make 2014 Marco Estrada cringe. The righty has served up an astounding 22 long balls in his 110 career appearances (1.9 HR/9). Were it not for an absurdly low .212 career BABIP against, Geltz’s ERA would almost certainly be much higher.

Geltz does at least throw relatively hard (average fastball of 92.2 MPH in 2016) and he mixes in a slider and split-finger with his arsenal. Geltz is a shorter pitcher with a stocky build (5’10”, 210 lbs) and throws from an over-the-top arm angle. He has spent parts of five seasons in AAA, appearing in 128 games and tossing 179.2 innings. In that time he’s allowed a 3.36 ERA with marks of 10.7 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9.

Interestingly, Geltz is now the third pitcher acquired by the Brewers this offseason that features a splitter, which is considered a rare pitch in today’s MLB. Recently claimed Blake Parker and minor league signee Luke Barker both also feature a split-fingered pitch, so perhaps that quality is something that Slingin’ David Stearns has homed in on this winter after the stunning success that #2016BrewersAce Junior Guerra experienced while utilizing the pitch as a prominent part of his arsenal.

Adam Walker’s stay on the 40 man winds up being a short one, as he’ll now be exposed to waivers for the second time in less than two weeks. So much for the feel-good story of a local kid getting the chance to suit up for his hometown team. I was not entirely pleased that the Brewers claimed the 25 year old in the first place and his profile doesn’t look like one that can succeed against big league pitching, but should he clear waivers he’ll be unable to elect free agency and I wouldn’t mind seeing him remain as depth within the organization. If the Brewers can fix his awful approach and teach him to play first base, there could eventually be some value there. It wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see another team enticed by that incredible raw power and claim Walker, however.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference