The Brewers debut of Jackie Bradley, Jr. was the headline of today’s Cactus League game against the Texas Rangers, but it was again the young guys who were the real story this afternoon.
Bradley picked up a single (advancing to second on a bobble in the outfield) in his three at-bats, but last year’s first round pick Garrett Mitchell was once again the star of the game.
First hit in a @Brewers uniform for @JackieBradleyJr #CactusCrew pic.twitter.com/g6XXeTS6Ow— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) March 13, 2021
Mitchell hit a home run to get the Brewers on the board in the 3rd inning and stung another single while Sophia Minnaert was talking to Drew Rasmussen, causing today’s starter to stop mid-sentence to say, “holy cow, this kid’s electric.”
Go off, @GarretMitchell5 ‼— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) March 13, 2021
The Crew's top prospect has six hits in 12 Spring at bats, including this towering HR -- his first with the #CactusCrew. pic.twitter.com/PGSND2sxjw
Mitchell ended the day 2-for-2 with a walk after getting the start in left field this afternoon, and is now hitting .538 this spring with a 1.446 OPS. He’ll likely take all of this season to get acclimated to the daily grind of full-season baseball, but given the glowing reviews from his teammates and coaches this spring, we may see him in the majors sooner than expected.
Outside of Mitchell, the other offensive fireworks came from Daniel Robertson, who homered in the bottom of the 4th to tie the game at 3. Robertson is now carrying a 1.026 OPS in a dozen at-bats this spring as he tries to win a spot on the roster as a reserve utility option.
On the mound, Drew Rasmussen got the start as Craig Counsell tries to get him stretched out as a multi-inning reliever/swing starter option — a sort of right-handed Brent Suter as the team looks for creative ways to cover innings early in the season (during the broadcast, David Stearns also mentioned the team may use strategies like skipping starts early in the season, tandem pitching and a six-man rotation to make sure everyone stays fresh throughout the year).
Rasmussen ran into a bit of trouble in his second inning, giving up a one-out triple when Avi Garcia couldn’t quite get to a ball hit over his head in right field that was followed up with an RBI single. Rasmussen ended up throwing 36 pitches before being relieved by Aaron Ashby with 2 outs in the 3rd inning.
Ashby, who has been the talk of camp lately after striking out 6 over his first 2 innings pitched, showed some of the command struggles that have occasionally been a problem for him in his minor league career. He faced 5 batters this afternoon but walked 2 of them and gave up a 2-RBI double in the 3rd inning.
That would be the last of the Rangers’ scoring off of Brewers’ pitching until the game’s final inning, though. Josh Hader pitched the 5th inning, walking the first batter and giving up a hit, but ultimately striking out 2 of the 4 batters he faced while hitting 95 on the radar gun and getting a better handle on his slider by the end of the inning.
Ethan Small started the 7th inning and gave up a tough luck run when a Charlie Culberson “triple” got past a diving Dylan Cozens in right field and Leody Taveras followed with the go-ahead double.
The Brewers were able to come back to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning, though, when Dustin Peterson led off with a double and scored after a pair of flyouts by Pablo Reyes and Tyrone Taylor.
The game ended mid-rally, though, when Texas pitcher Brett de Geus came up with a cramp with Mitchell on base as the winning run. The Rangers had no one else available to pitch on their limited travel roster, forcing manager Chris Woodward to roll the final inning, ending the game in a 4-4 tie.
The Brewers play the Mariners tomorrow at 2:10 p.m. central.