The Sunday Cycle: A collection of four of my thoughts from the prior week of Brewers baseball
Current Record- 38-26, First Place- NL Central
Single- The 40 round MLB first-year player draft took place this week, with over 1,200 prospects from around the globe being selected by the 30 franchises. The MLB draft varies greatly from other professional sports drafts in many ways, most notably in that the drafting teams often struggle to sign their newly drafted players, who often decline offers made to them and reenter the pool for the following year’s draft. Many of these players are high schoolers (16/34 first round picks) who may want to play NCAA ball, or simply feel that they will be worth more money in a future year’s draft. The Brewers were able to make a splash and impress a number of people around the league by signing two of their first three picks. Monte Harrison, a top ten high school prospect in the outfield, will be leaving behind a committed offer to play wide receiver for Nebraska football and will enter the Brewer’s minor league system after signing a reported $1.8 million dollar deal. This is a huge get for the Brewers, as Harrison was considered by many to be the best pure athlete in the draft, and only fell to the second round because teams doubted their ability to sign him this year. Also inked to a Brewer’s deal was their 41st overall pick, Jake Gatewood, a power-hitting high school shortstop from California. They have yet to sign their first-round pick Kodi Medeiros, a left-handed Hawaiian pitcher who is also still in high school. (Was pleased to use an article by @Matt Trebby for a number of the details above. Thanks Matt!)
Double- Back to the major leagues. Maybe it’s the fact that Yadier Molina is my least favorite athlete in any sport, but it’s an absolute shame that Jonathan Lucroy won’t find himself in the starting lineup in July’s All Star game. Lucroy’s patience at the plate has been such a welcome addition to the Brewer’s lineup that so desperately needs it. He is currently sporting the second best batting average in the major leagues at .335 (including a league leading .378 road batting average), and ranks second in doubles with 23. I have yet to see an opposing catcher who frames their pitches as well as Lucroy, often winning some questionable ball/strike calls for his pitchers (example: today’s 8th inning ending strikeout by K-rod, and the ensuing ejection of Russel Martin http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11052880&ex_cid=null). In my opinion, Lucroy is one of the most complete catchers in the game, and his consistency is crucial to the Brewer’s success. He’s got my vote for the Brewer’s MVP at the 1/3 point of the season.
Triple- Tyler Thornberg started this season as one of the most dominant middle relievers in the game (for reference, statistics, and shameless gushing, see the Sunday Cycle from April 13th). However in two of his last three appearances, he has not looked like himself and has been knocked around quite a bit, giving up seven earned runs in four innings to see his ERA jump from 2.45 to 4.25. It appears he has been battling through some soreness in his elbow, and the Brewers elected to place him on the 15-day DL to let him rest. While injuries are never good news, I am incredibly excited about the opportunity Mike Fiers will have to pitch again in a Brewer’s uniform after being called up yesterday evening. After an incredibly promising 2012 campaign that featured a high strikeout to walk ratio, Fiers struggled immensely in 2013 after taking a foul ball to his pitching arm, then dealing with the unexpected death of his mother at the age of 54. The nightmare year is over, and Fiers has shown every sign of putting 2013 behind him as he leads all minor league pitchers (every level, not just AAA ball) in strikeouts. How does he do it? In short, Fiers’ delivery hides the ball incredibly well to the point where hitters have a tough time picking up on his pitches. Look to see him pitch in relief this week should the Brewer’s need someone to gobble up innings. A solid performance over the next two weeks could land him a permanent spot on the 25-man roster.
HR- Since 1981, the Brewers have made the MLB Playoffs just four times. On June 8th of each of those years, here is where the Brewers stood in the divisional standing: 3 GB in 1981, 7 GB in 1982, 6.5 GB in 2008, and 1.5 GB in 2011. Today, the Brewers boast a five game lead over the second place St. Louis Cardinals. No need to expand on this point, it speaks volumes for itself (and quite frankly it’s past my bedtime).