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Milwaukee Brewers sign Michael Tonkin to minor league contract

The team continues to round out its pitching depth.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Andy King/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Brewers have signed another right-handed reliever with MLB experience to round out their pitching depth as Spring Training winds down:

Michael Tonkin, 29, began his career in 2008 when he was a 30th round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins. He debuted in the big leagues as a 23 year old in 2013 and spent parts of the next five seasons with the Twins, tallying 141 appearances and 146.1 innings pitched. His results were never outstanding, though, as he is the owner of a 4.43 ERA that translates to a below-average 105 ERA-, along with marks of 9.16 K/9 and 3.32 BB/9. His numbers in the minors have been far better, however. especially in Triple-A. He’s pitched to a 2.41 ERA in 133 games and 160.1 innings at the highest level of the minors with a 10.6 K/9 rate and 2.1 BB/9.

Tonkin didn’t miss many bats during his first three seasons in the bigs, but saw his swinging-strike rate and punchout rate take big jumps in 2016 and 2017. But he also turned in a 5.05 ERA in 81 appearances during those two seasons while being plagued by a 1.8 HR/9 rate. He was released by the Twins following the 2017 season and signed with NPB’s Nippon Ham Fighters for the 2018 season. He totaled 53 outings and 51.0 innings in Japan with a 3.71 ERA and 12 saves, but a less encouraging 33:23 K/BB ratio.

Tonkin signed a minor league deal with the Rangers this past January in an effort to return to ball in the States, but he was released on March 21st after four successful outings that totaled 4.1 innings pitched with two hits and one run allowed, and three strikeouts against one walk. He wasn’t without a job for long, however, as the Brewers signed him to a minor league contract the following day.

The last time Tonkin pitched in the majors, he was working with a four-seam fastball that averaged 94.4 MPH and a mid-80s slider that was his most oft-used secondary pitch. He also throws a sinker and he added a cutter to his repertoire in 2017. Tonkin has thrown a changeup in the past, as well, though generally very rarely and he ditched the offering altogether in 2017.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference