Take a sniff. Can you smell it? Baseball’s basically back! And because we’re fans of the Milwaukee Brewers, we’re imagining all the weird convoluted ways the Crew will build their roster.
That mad trip down the roster building experiment slide starts with the Crew’s non-roster invitee list. The 2020 players are especially weird. A group of former big leaguers, Brewers and minor leaguers, there’s potential and then some in the conglomerate of hopefuls. Who are these fringe roster boys? Let’s take a look!
Clayton Andrews, LHP/OF
The Brewers’ two-way toy in the Minors, Andrews is quite an anomaly. He’s a left-handed pitcher who can sit in the low-90s. He’s also a decent outfielder with a surprisingly accurate bat. He’s an interesting phenomenon in the days where managers move relievers are moved to the outfield for a moment, only to be brought back to the mound to face a lefty. Can he overcome the height? This is his first challenge to stepping on the MLB field.
Zack Brown, RHP
Remember when Zack Brown was a top prospect? Well, the Brewers farm is so bad that he’s still a top prospect. Everything that made Brown good is still there, but he needs to locate his stuff. He’s an average pitcher with average stuff and great location. Last season, he walked A LOT of hitters. If he’s to bounce back from that, this is the first step.
Jesus Castillo, RHP
Signed in November, Castillo is a forgotten NRI. He’s never touched the Major Leagues, but has had success in the minors. Last year, he pitched to a 2.71 ERA while splitting his time between the pen and as a starter. At 24, he’s worth the gamble.
Jake Faria, RHP
A few weeks ago, Faria was on the 40-man and wouldn’t make this list. After a DFA and a safe trip through waivers, he’s now an NRI. Faria has a ton of talent, but has yet to gather it together and produce in the Majors. He has an opportunity to show that his 11.42 ERA with the Brewers is in the past this Spring.
Justin Grimm, RHP
Justin Grimm has been a Major League pitcher since 2012. The issue is that he was only good in 2015 with the Chicago Cubs. Milwaukee hopes to fix his walk issues and get him back to his big strikeout totals to make him a viable reliever once again.
Thomas Jankins, RHP
Jankins has been a Minor League starter for Milwaukee for a bit. He wasn’t great last season with AAA, but he can be a pretty good hurler. He has the chance to prove that he can handle multiple inning outings this Spring. If he looks good, he might even be the seventh or eighth man in the rotation.
Shelby Miller, RHP
Miller is easily the most accomplished player on this list. He was once a coveted commodity. Last season, he ended the year with the Brewers on a Minor League deal. Miller believes he’s restored his elite skills and can make the rotation again. If it works out, he’s the 2020 Wade Miley.
Mike Morin, RHP
Mike Morin was a pretty good reliever with the Twins last season (3.18 ERA), but he was also a pretty bad reliever with the Phillies (5.17 ERA). Can Milwaukee make him consistent? It’s worth the Minor League Deal to experiment with. After all, recent success suggests he’s likelier to repeat it than others. Maybe the Brewers can find the Morin that blew away the League when he made his debut with the Angels.
Drew Rasmussen, RHP
Rasmussen had a phenomenal 2.65 ERA across three levels last season. He’s getting a taste of the Big Leagues at Spring Training. If things go right, we likely see him in the pen mid-year.
Miguel Sanchez, RHP
Sanchez has had an outstanding pro career as a reliever. It wasn’t that great last year, but a hitter-friendly environment like the PCL would cause issues for anyone. He could be one of the rare relief prospects that a team actually develops.
Ethan Small, LHP
The 2019 first-round pick barely tasted pro ball last year. He has an advanced approach that justifies giving him a look at facing Major League hitters. This is an experience play, nothing more, nothing less.
Aaron Wilkerson, RHP
Hey everyone, it’s Aaron Wilkerson! We all know his role. The team will add him to the 40-man and shuttle him between the MLB and AAA. He has the skills to stick but never showed it at The Show. Maybe something clicks this year?
Mario Feliciano, C
The Brewers’ best catching prospect will start with the big leaguers this Spring. It’s understandable, there’s a lot of pitchers, so you need a lot of backstops. Working with defensive experts like Manny Pina is good for him. He’ll start in AA regardless of the Spring.
Payton Henry, C
Copy and paste for Feliciano. He’s getting good experience, but he’s a peg lower than Feliciano.
Tuffy Gosewisch, C
I actually think Tuffy has a chance to be the third catcher. He’s a solid veteran catcher who handles the ball well enough. He has a lot to show behind David Freitas and Jacob Nottingham, but you could do worse for a third catcher than Tuffy. He last played in the Majors in 2017 with Seattle.
Andres Blanco, IF
Blanco is a 35-year-old veteran. He’s played MLB since 2004 when he debuted with the Royals. He can play a bunch of positions, but he doesn’t hit. If he can find his .253/.316/.405 bat that he had with the Phillies in 2016, or the .292/.360/.502 slash from the year before, he could be a decent utility player.
Lucas Erceg, 3B
It feels like we’ve talked about Erceg for forever. Great lefty swing which hasn’t hit or hit for power so far. He has the tools to be an above average defender but hasn’t showed it. He’s had success in Spring before, but I don’t see him sprinting up the depth chart. In 2020, Erceg will repeat a Minor League level for the first time, if he makes huge strides, it’ll be great. If not, he might not stick in the system.
Logan Morrison, IF/OF
Logan Morrison... (Check notes) LOGAN MORRISON!? I wanted this guy to be Eric Thames the year the Brewers signed Eric Thames! Now he’s with Milwaukee on a Minor League Deal. He’s only gotten worse over the last few years. He could brush off some of the rust and show some value. That’s the only hope for LoMo this Spring.
Jace Peterson, IF
Do you love powerless infielders? Like a utility player who can’t cover shortstop? Then you’ll really like Jace Peterson! Based on his past, Peterson seems to be an emergency player and organizational depth. Don’t look for much this Spring.
Keon Broxton, OF
DID YOU FORGET HE’S BACK!? The owner of my second-favorite homer robbery of the last decade is a Brewer again! The Brewers’ roster already has five outfielders, but if there’s an injury, Broxton will get playing time. He’s a plus defender with a bat that can be amazing when you’re on the right side of the streak.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference