We're almost there. Remember all of those days in the past couple months where wind chills (or legit air temperatures) were below zero? Almost a thing of the past, my friend. We're now just one week away from Brewers pitchers and catchers reporting to Arizona. Spring is nearly here.
The Brewers have a full 40-man roster, but are also bringing a slew of others to big league camp next week. Some of these players might end up making an impact in 2017, or even make the team out of spring training. Here's what you need to know about the group of guys who will try to head back north with the team at the end of March.
Today, we'll focus on the pitchers who'll try to steal a spot in the bullpen.
LHP Andrew Barbosa
We covered Barbosa at length back in December when the Brewers first signed him to a minor league contract. The first thing you'll notice when he steps onto the mound this spring is his size -- standing at 6'8", he'll be the tallest player in camp. The 29-year-old used an Independent League stint to work his way back into affiliated ball in 2015, and spent last season in the Mets' minor league system. He throws in the low-90s, but his height creates a tough angle for hitters. With only three left-handed pitchers on the 40-man roster, a good spring might land Barbosa a role in Milwaukee.
RHP Yhonathan Barrios
Barrios was the return for Aramis Ramirez in 2015, and made his Milwaukee debut later that year. Throwing in the high 90s, there was some hope for Barrios to contribute to the big league bullpen last year, but he got hurt and missed the entire 2016 season due to rotator cuff surgery. That's a scary procedure for any pitcher, but if Barrios can get his velo back to where it was before he got hurt, he might be a decent bet to reclaim his old spot on the 40-man roster.
RHP Hiram Burgos
The Brewers Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2012 will return for another season in the system after re-signing as a minor league free agent this winter. Like Barrios, he struggled with shoulder problems in 2013 and 2014, but has managed to work his way back into being a solid minor league pitcher. He threw 143.1 innings in Colorado Springs last year, putting up a 4.40 ERA with a 115:55 K/BB ratio. He'll likely end up back in the Sky Sox rotation, but does provide some solid starting pitching depth in case of injury.
RHP Joba Chamberlain
The former Yankees super prospect continues to try to work his way back into MLB relevancy. He spent the first half of last season with eventual AL champion Cleveland, putting up a 2.25 ERA in 20 relief appearances, but he also carried a 18:11 K/BB ratio while averaging 93 mph on his fastball -- a far cry from the high-90s he was capable of 10 years ago when he debuted. He was designated for assignment in July and didn't catch on with another team for the rest of the season. At the very least, he should be well-rested.
RHP Paolo Espino
The 30-year-old native of Panama has never reached the major leagues, but has spent significant time in both the Cleveland and Washington systems. He's thrown 426 innings at the Triple-A level with a 7.8 K/9 and a 1.9 BB/9, but has yet been able to get even a cup of coffee at the next level. Last year, he put up a 3.30 ERA in 152.2 innings, striking out 133 and walking just 29. His small stature and high-80s fastball may have kept him in the minors, but he could still be an interesting swingman option for a Brewers team that might have a long relief spot open.
RHP David Goforth
Goforth had a decent enough debut in the big leagues in 2015, putting up a 4.01 ERA in 24.2 innings, striking out 24 against 8 walks. But he struggled mightily last season, coughing up 13 runs in 10.2 innings before getting sent down to Colorado Springs and getting hit for a 4.91 ERA (5.17 FIP) there. He lost his 40-man roster spot earlier this winter as part of Blake Parker's offseason waiver saga and was never re-added. At this point, the Brewers probably know what they have in Goforth, but he's at least an option with major league experience.
RHP Stephen Kohlscheen
Another career minor leaguer, Kohlscheen joined the Brewers system last year and spent the 2016 season closing games for Double-A Biloxi as a 27-year-old. He ended up putting up a 2.54 ERA, finishing 42 games and saving 23. In nearly 50 innings, he struck out 67 and walked 17. The 12.1 K/9 is slightly less impressive when you're facing guys 3 years younger than you, but it was enough to get him an invite to big league camp.
LHP Andy Oliver
Oliver was once a Top-100 prospect, coming in at 87th on both the Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus lists before the 2011 season, but has gotten shelled in his limited MLB action (7.11 ERA in 31.2 innings) and hasn't pitched in the majors since that year. He was traded to Pittsburgh straight up for Ramon Cabrera after the 2012 season, and was a Rule 5 pick by Philadelphia before 2015 but was released, then signed and released by Tampa Bay, then signed by Baltimore that year. In 2016, he put up a 3.43 ERA in 28 appearances (14 starts), striking out 84 and walking 36. As mentioned with Barbosa, he may get a chance just by virtue of throwing with his left hand, but at the very least could be a veteran on the Colorado Springs staff.
RHP Rob Scahill
Scahill lost his 40-man spot when the Brewers claimed Ehire Adrianza last week. Now Adrianza himself has been DFA'd and lost on waivers, but Scahill will look to get his roster spot back starting next week. The righty didn't impress in 8 appearances in Colorado Springs last year, but had better luck out of the Milwaukee bullpen, putting up a 2.45 ERA in 16 appearances with 14 strikeouts and 3 walks. Scahill's career doesn't jump off the page at you, but the Brewers thought enough of him to keep him on the 40-man for most of the winter, even if that meant exposing others to the Rule 5 draft.
RHP Forrest Snow
Aside from the cool name, Snow offers some intrigue as one of David Stearns' offseason minor league fliers. Standing at 6'6", his fastball out of the bullpen has been clocked as high as 97 and he also throws a splitter. He seemed to be on the cusp of the majors in 2012 when he got a big league invite from the Mariners, but was suspended 50 games two seasons later for his second failed test for a drug of abuse. Since then, he's been stuck in the Mariners’ high minors. In 2016, he put up a 2.83 ERA in 28 appearances between Double-A and Triple-A with a 10.5 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
RHP Ryan Webb
Another big righty at 6'6" and 245 pounds, Webb was signed to a minor league deal this winter, but unlike most on this list, has extensive big league experience. He's racked up 375 appearances in the majors over parts of 8 seasons, pitching for the Padres, Marlins, Orioles, Indians and Rays and putting up a career 3.43 ERA. He's lost a lot of zip on his fastball over the years, though, and has started throwing his changeup more. His 5.19 ERA in 17.1 innings with Tampa last year was ugly, but he was a bit unlucky with a .417 BABIP. Regardless, he was released in the middle of the season and finished the year in the White Sox system. With so many young arms in the Brewers' projected bullpen, Webb could end up being a guy they keep around as a veteran.
RHP Aaron Wilkerson
One of the pieces the Brewers got in return for Aaron Hill last season, Wilkerson has flown under the radar for much of his minor league career despite some impressive numbers. Unfortunately, the numbers weren't so impressive after the trade, as Wilkerson became another victim to the Colorado Springs altitude, getting drubbed for a 6.42 ERA in 11 starts. If there's some room for optimism, it's in that he still managed to carry a K/9 rate of 9.4 and kept his BB/9 at 2.6. The 12 home runs he gave up between his time in Colorado Springs, Pawtucket and Portland were the most he's allowed since his time in Independent ball in 2013. For whatever reason, he's never gotten much hype as a prospect even though he's done nothing but produce. He'll have a chance to show what he can do against big league hitters this spring.
Statistics courtesy Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs