The Milwaukee Brewers reportedly made another dive into the independent ball ranks yesterday, augmenting their catching depth by inking a backstop from the fledgling Milwaukee Milkmen, the new American Association team that will be playing their inaugural season in 2019 at Routine Field on the Rock Sports Complex in Franklin:
We are excited to announce that Milkmen Catcher/1B Skyler Ewing had his contract purchased by our hometown @Brewers! Skyler will be invited to their Spring Training starting in February. We wish him all the best and hope to see him in a Brewers uniform soon! @MLB pic.twitter.com/hhPHfaR8ld— Milwaukee Milkmen (@MKEMilkmen) January 24, 2019
Skyler Ewing, 26, began his professional career as a 6th-round pick by the San Francisco Giants in 2014. He opened his career with a bang, batting .282/.401/.464 with nine homers and more walks (40) than strikeouts (37) in 62 games between rookie ball and short-season Class A after signing out of Rice for a $247K bonus. But the jump for full season ball appeared to stall out his development; Ewing spent three straight seasons from 2015-17 at the Class A level. He was primarily a first baseman in college and at the outset of his minor league career but began transitioning to catcher in 2017 at Class A, and after hitting .246/.359/.455 with 13 homers and a 30% caught-stealing rate from behind the plate, the Braves were intrigued enough to select him in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft.
Atlanta released Ewing shortly before the start of the 2018 regular season and he hooked on with the Marlins, but he could produce only a .136/.260/.318 slash in 31 games between Class A-Advanced and AA before getting released once again. Ewing ended up finishing out the 2018 playing season with the Florence Freedom of the independent Frontier League and tormented opposing pitchers, batting a robust .300/.389/.594 with 16 homers in 244 plate appearances.
Ewing’s best tool has always been his power, but scouts have long had reservations about his lack of bat speed and difficulty handling offspeed pitches. He appears to be improving behind the plate, however, after registering a 36% caught-stealing rate and committing only five errors and eight passed balls (down from 12 and 14 in 2017) with Florence last season. He’ll likely help in handling the bevy of pitchers that will end up reporting to big league camp for a few weeks before heading off to the minor league side to prepare for the season and figures to be assigned somewhere in the mid-minors for 2019, Class A-Advanced or AA.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference