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Milwaukee Brewers sign six players to minor league contracts

An interesting mix of MLB veterans and former top prospects will join the org in depth roles.

Cleveland Indians v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

It has been a whirlwind of transactions the last couple of days for the Milwaukee Brewers, at least on the minor league side of the org. While roster moves are frozen at the big league level as MLB’s owners continue to lock out the players, the Brewers yesterday added to their prospect stable yesterday by picking a player in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and today there were six minor league free agent signings either reported or announced by the club.

Four players will be receiving invitations to big league camp, bringing Milwaukee’s total to 14 non-roster invitees so far. Among this group, Tyler White looks like the player with the best chance to have an immediate impact on the roster. White, 31, was a 33rd-round pick by the Astros in 2013 who has, simply put, destroyed minor league pitching at every single stop he’s made. In seven minor league seasons, White is a .303/.407/.504 hitter with an even 100 home runs as well as nearly identical walk (13.5%) and strikeout (15.1%) rates across 2,692 plate appearances. That includes the most recent season, where White played 105 games for Triple-A Buffalo and hit .292/.424/.476 with 13 home runs in 443 plate appearances. He walked 80 times and struck out 73.

White appeared in parts of four big league seasons from 2016-19 with uneven success. His best stint came in 2018 when he hit .276/.354/.533 with 12 home runs in 66 games; overall, though, he’s a career .236/.315/.409 hitter in 859 MLB plate appearances with the Astros and Dodgers. That comes out to a 95 OPS+, and he has rates of 24.2% strikeout and 10.1% base on balls. White also struggled in a brief KBO stint in 2020, recording three hits and six walks in 30 plate appearances for the SK Wyverns while in Korea.

Garrett Whitley, 25 next March, was the #13 overall pick by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015 and received a signing bonus of close to $3 mil. He was rated as a top-10 prospect in Tampa Bay’s system by Baseball America each year from 2016-18 and has long been lauded for his power-speed potential, but has yet to put his tantalizing skillset together as he’s fought swing-and-miss issues as well as injuries. He missed all of 2018 after labrum surgery, and he suffered facial fractures after getting hit by a foul ball during Spring Training in 2020 (pre-shutdown). In his last three full seasons, however, Whitley has hit 10+ home runs and stolen 10+ bases. But he’s whiffed in 30% of 1,668 minor league plate appearances while batting .234/.343/.407; including a .229/.338/.444 slash line in 347 plate appearance between Double-A and Triple-A this past summer. He raked in Double-A, but batted only .172 with seven extra-base hits and 36 strikeouts in 31 games at the highest level of the minors.

Jakson Reetz, 26 in January, was a 3rd-rounder by the Nationals in 2014 who made his big league debut this past season, hitting a double in two plate appearances while appearing in a pair of games. Reetz was ranked among Baseball America’s top-30 prospects in the Nationals org each year from 2015-2021, shining on defense while continuing to develop at the plate. Reetz owns a career 32% caught stealing rate across 446 games in the minor leagues, and according to BA, “has soft hands in receiving and is a good blocker behind the plate. He has a quick exchange and average arm strength.” Reetz looked like a breakout player after hitting .253/.370/.441 with 13 home runs in 96 games in Class A-Advanced in 2019, but after the cancelled minor league season in 2020, he backed up to a .189/.297/.317 slash in 300 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A this past season. Before this past season, BA’s scouts wrote “Reetz has continued to make progress at the plate, namely by improving his bat path by allowing his hands to do more of the work. He has average to above-average power and has made progress in his strike-zone recognition skills and hitting to the right-center field gap. He still has a long way to go, but Reetz is at least moving in the right direction offensively.”

Moises Gomez, 25 in February, began his career as an international free agent signing by the Twins in 2014. He hasn’t shown up on top prospect lists but has consistently posted stellar numbers while climbing the minor league ladder with the Twins and Mariners, pitching to a career 3.09 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 across 285.0 innings in seven seasons. This past season between Double-A and Triple-A, Gomez logged a 2.93 earned run average in 46.0 innings with 43 punchouts and 11 free passes.

The Brewers also added a pair of players on straight MiLB deals without camp invites, most notably 30 year old Jon Singleton. The former top prospect was part of the deal (along with Domingo Santana) that sent Hunter Pence from the Astros to the Phillies in 2011 and signed a five-year, $10 mil contract in 2014 before he played a game in the big leagues. That ended up working out in his favor, as Singleton hit only .171/.290/.331 in 420 MLB plate appearances in 2014-15 before being outrighted back to the minor leagues. Singleton has been suspended multiple times for recreation drug use in the minor leagues, including a 100-game suspension for his third offense in 2018. Houston released him after that, and Singleton was out of organized baseball until resurfacing in the Mexican League in 2021. He hit .321/.503/.693 with 15 home runs in 46 games for Diablos Rojos del Mexico, striking out 50 times and drawing 51 walks in 189 plate appearances.

Arnaldo Hernandez, 26 in February, was an international signing by the Royals in 2012. He spent some time on their 40-man roster and was even rated by Baseball America as that org’s #28 prospect in 2019. He was described as “an effective strike-thrower. He moves the ball up, down, in and out, all while changing speeds...He uses both his four-seam and two-seam fastball, with his four-seamer sitting 90-94 mph while his two-seamer comes in a tick slower with arm-side run. His best pitch is a changeup with sink that flashes as a plus offering, and he also has an average 79-82 mph curveball with depth.”

Hernandez pitched to a 4.30 ERA across 505.0 innings in the minors — mostly as a starter (108 G, 85 starts) — with marks of 7.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. He spent 2021 in independent professional baseball, giving up four earned runs in 14.0 innings with Charleston of the Atlantic League but getting knocked around in Mexico to the tune of 15 earned runs in 9.2 innings with Sultanes de Monterrey.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference