You have to give it to Thornburg, he’s doing almost everything in his power to prove the people who don’t think he’s capable of sticking in the rotation wrong this year. Last week, he allowed 1 run over 7 innings, while striking out 7 and walking no one. For the season he’s allowed a 1.80 ERA over 35 innings. He’s also struck out 40 and walked only 7, both pretty outstanding numbers. Batters are hitting a mere .182 off of him. These are all obviously some really great signs and reports are that his velocity has ticked up a bit this season, especially later into starts.
That’s the good stuff, but there are some things to still be concerned about, though. He’s recording more outs in the air than on the ground. As he moves up the ladder towards the big leagues and starts to face more and more hitters capable of turning fly balls into home runs, that could really cause problems. It could especially become an issue s with lefties, who are hitting 55 points higher than righties. That’s not a monster problem right now, because the baseline is so low, but it really could grow down the road.
At this point, it’s hard to say if Thornburg has really improved his chances of sticking in a big league rotation long term, but it’s becoming more and more likely that he’ll at least earn the chance to try at some point in the not too distant future. Of course, he’ll need to keep maintaining the big swing and miss numbers, limit walks and try and keep the ball in the park. Depending on how things shake out this year, he could be in line for a mid year promotion to AAA and September call up to pitch out of the pen. If all goes well, pitching in Milwaukee sometime next year seems almost a lock, though whether that will be as a starter or a reliever is still up for debate.
Thornburg’s AA teammate is doing his best to shut up the naysayers as well early in 2012. Over the last 10 games he’s hitting .351/.415/.568 bringing his season line up to a solid .322/.370/.492. The hitting for average has been key early on, as he still doesn’t walk much (7) while striking out quite a bit (25), and he’ll need to continue to make a lot of contact for his prodigious power to shine through long term. He’s not a guy with much defensive or positional value, limited to first base and not particularly good there. He’ll need to continue to polish the rough edges to his game to make it to the big leagues in any long long term capacity.
If there is an interesting Canadian player out there to be had, chances are good the Brewers will do everything they can to land him at some point, as they did with Henderson when he became available in 2009. He’s only allowed 1 unearned run all year out of the Sounds pen and has struck out 16 in 14 innings. He’s also walked 7, which would normally be a major issue, but hasn’t been because hitters are hitting a mere .159 against him. As our own JP Breen has noted, he’s flashed high 90’s velocity this season and it’s hard to not wonder if perhaps the Brewers have unlocked the potential of another big reliever from the Great White North. If he keeps pitching like this and some of the 5th and 6th inning relievers continue to struggle in Milwaukee, don’t be surprised if the team gives him a shot sooner rather than later.
It’s certainly been an interesting path into pro baseball for the big right hander. He’s a veteran of Tommy John surgery, had to be drafted three times before finally signing with the Brewers last year. He made his 2012 debut on Friday and allowed no hits over 5 innings while striking out 6 and walking 3. Once upon a time, Thompson used to throw consistently in the low to mid 90’s, but according to the indispensable @cmehring, “He didn’t throw hard tonight – i didn’t see anything over 88 from him, but he threw well.” High 80’s velocity certainly isn’t a death sentence for a prospect, but it does present certain challenges and limitations. We’ll just have to wait and see what he can do as time passes.
Slumps can be cruelly timed for ballplayers. Sometimes a guy waits years to get into the postseason, only to suffer through one when he gets there. In Gindl’s case, there is a very good chance that his .100/.143/.225 line over the past 10 games cost him a call to the big leagues this week when Mat Gamel, Carlos Gomez, and Alex Gonzalez all hit the disabled list. All is far from lost for him, though. He won’t turn 24 until the end of August and still figures to get a shot at some point this year when he picks it back up with the bat, even if it’s only a September call up. Long term, he still looks like the same sort of potential 4th/platoon outfielder as he did coming into the season.
Rivera’s defense may well end up being good enough that his bat will simply need to be playable for him to at least make it to The Show. Unfortunately for Rivera, though, he’s had trouble showing the ability to be even that good on a consistent basis thus far in his career. The last 10 games saw him post a .171/.275/.200 overall line, and he’s struck out more than 4 times as often as he’s walked this year, 26:6. That would be concerning for any 20 year old at low A ball, but is especially so considering he got quite a bit of time at the level already last season. Becoming a more consistent line drive hitter should be at the very top of Rivera’s to-do list going forward.
Before being traded to the Diamondbacks as part of the package that landed Felipe Lopez in 2009, Mercedes was one of the more interesting power relief prospects in the system. Since then, however, his command has seldom been good enough to allow his stuff to consistently get batters out. The Brewers reacquired the right hander prior to the 2011 season, and the results have remained uninspiring. Last week, he allowed 5 earned runs in only 1 2/3 innings pitched and continues to struggle with his command. Of course, you never know when things might click with a hard throwing reliever, so he’s worth keeping around even if the odds of a major league career just keep dropping.