The big right-hander from the University of Alabama continued his outstanding season last week by throwing a complete game. He allowed 2 runs on 6 hits, striking out 5 against only 1 walk. That performance left his ERA at 2.40 over 56 1/3 innings, and strikeout-to-walk ratio at 55:16. He’s also held batters to a .233 batting average and has allowed 2 1/2 times more ground outs than air outs.
Taken all together, it’s been a remarkable turnaround from the first half of the 2011 season, which saw Nelson struggle to consistently throw strikes and get outs at low A Wisconsin. As Nelson told our very own J.P. Breen, he was working on quite a few things at once early last year. He only really started to feel comfortable with the changes in the second half, when his numbers dramatically improved. Nelson went on to wow scouts in the fall instructional league and has been impressing ever since.
His fastball has outstanding sink and sits in the low-to-mid 90′s, and he gets a lot of swings and misses with his slider. If he can develop his changeup, he has a chance to be a solid, middle-of-the-rotation workhorse in the not too distant future. If he keeps performing like he has, the Brewers will almost certainly give him a shot at AA in the second half. Expecting him to break camp with the big league club next year when there figure to be multiple rotation openings is probably pushing it just a bit, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we’ll see him in Milwaukee in 2013.
Over his last 10 games, Schafer has hit .281/.324/.500. While his seasonal line is a solid-but-unspectacular .263/.322/.431, what really stands out is just how much power he’s hit for at home early in 2012. Hitters in the PCL can rack up some pretty gaudy stats fattening up on hitters parks out west, but the Sounds play in one of the less offensive parks in the league and he’s been killing pitchers there. It’s been Schafer’s misfortune that health has often slowed his progress and left him unable to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Now, he finds himself in the position of being the Brewers 4th CF option, so he sits in AAA despite a solid spring and seems destined to continue to wait until at least September for another shot at the big leagues.
On many levels, it’s hard to get excited about a college pitcher who is still sitting in high A ball as the third anniversary of his first round selection is fast approaching. While it’s been far from a storybook career for Arnett, there still exists the possibility that he could one day pitch in the major leagues, though at this point starting does appear to be off the table. The former Indiana Hoosier possesses an absolute knockout slider that can make even advanced hitters look silly when he can command it into the zone and he’s regained some of the velocity he lost since being drafted. He may never turn out to be much, but he’s still worth keeping an eye on in case everything clicks.
The Brewers’ 2011 15th round selection out of Georgia Southern picked up right where he left off performance-wise after a promotion from the Midwest League to the Florida State League, throwing 5 innings, allowing 1 run and striking out 4 against 1 walk. Thus far in 2012 he has a combined 1.49 ERA in 42 1/3 innings. Moye is facing a lot of hitters younger than him and he doesn’t generate many ground balls, but he’s at least worth keeping an eye on.
Last week’s POW, Heckathorn, has gotten bombed his last two outings, allowing a combined 12 runs on 6 2/3 innings. He’s been hit often (14 total hits) and hard (2 HR) and posted a 3:2 K:BB ratio. Those runs pushed his season ERA to an unsightly 5.32, something that certainly isn’t going to expedite a promotion to AAA. While it’s tempting to suggest he’s just been hit-unlucky because his peripherals are still pretty good, this sort of inconsistency has dogged Heckathorn since he’s been a pro and until he finds a way to keep it from happening at the minor league level, there is no reason to suspect he’ll be able to stop it in the majors.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Rivas seemed to be on track for the big leagues, either at the back end of the rotation or perhaps in middle relief. After suffering through elbow issues that hurt his performance in 2011, he’s off to a rough start in 2012 as well. The biggest issues are he simply walks too many hitters and he’s also not striking out as many as he has in the past. He’s given up earned runs in 5 of his last 6 relief outings and multiple runs in 3 of those. The Brewers will give him time to turn it around, but the odds of that happening aren’t getting any better.
On one hand, it’s a real positive to see Davis taking as many walks as he has of late, 11 in his last 10 games. That’s kept him from being a complete zero offensively over a time he’s only picked up 6 hits, none for extra bases. Davis has always had profile issues, with a bat that didn’t figure to hit for corner OF power and a body that doesn’t seem likely to play at CF long term in the majors. The main problem is, though, that his seasonal line is .233/.333/.293 and at some point a 23 year-old former supplemental first round outfielder needs to start hitting to be a legitimate prospect.