The Milwaukee Brewers’ Opening Day roster continues to take shape, as the club has announced a series of roster updates over the past few days. First off, catcher Manny Pina and righty Jhan Marinez have been informed that they will make the team and head to Milwaukee when camp breaks. Earlier today, the club also notified the masses via Twitter that right-hander Hiram Burgos was reassigned to minor league camp, leaving 33 players (16 pitchers, 4 catchers, 9 infielders, and 4 outfielders) still in the running for the final 25 man roster.
Both Pina and Marinez are out of minor league options, meaning that they would have been exposed to waivers if they hadn’t made the team out of spring training. That likely made it an easier call for a Brewers’ team that is looking to keep as much talent in the organization as possible, though both players have certainly performed admirably this spring.
Pina, who posted a .740 OPS in 33 games for Milwaukee last season, has hit .419/.432/.814 with 4 homers and 5 doubles in 43 at-bats during camp and has begun to distinguish himself among the other competitors in Milwaukee’s three-way catching battle. Pina’s mother started crying when he told her that he’d made his first Opening Day roster after spending 12 seasons in the minor leagues. If he is tabbed to catch for Junior Guerra on April 3rd, he and Guerra (who are friends and both hail from town of Barquisimeto, Venezuela) would be the first Venezuelan-born battery to start an Opening Day game together in the National League.
The final catching spot will now come down either Jett Bandy or Andrew Susac, neither of whom have performed all that well this spring. Bandy has struggled a bit at the plate though has looked good in the field, while Susac struck out 15 times in his first 26 at-bats before going down with a trapezius injury. Fortunately Susac was found to have no structural damage, though the nearly two weeks he missed will certainly make it tough for him to get back into the swing of things before final cuts.
This will also be the first Opening Day roster for Jhan Marinez, who was acquired for cash last May after being DFA’d by the Tampa Bay Rays. Jhan worked his way into being a valuable member of last year’s bullpen, appearing in 43 games and tossing 58.2 innings with a 3.22 ERA/3.98 DRA, 47:21 K/BB ratio, and 52% ground ball rate. So far this spring, Jhan has worked 8.0 innings while allowing just one run on six hits, one walk, and with four strikeouts.
As for Burgos, he’ll head back to minor league camp and figures to begin the season in the AAA starting rotation, where he has spent the better part of the last five seasons. The right-hander was with the silver medal winning Puerto Rican team for most of the spring, but allowed 9 earned runs in the 4.2 innings he pitched while wearing a Brewers’ uniform. The 29 year old made six big league starts back in 2013 before injuries began to take their toll, though while finally healthy last season he posted a 4.40 ERA/3.35 DRA in 143.1 for the AAA Sky Sox.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Baseball Prospectus