On Tuesday evening, right-hander Michael Fiers made his major league debut in the starting rotation for the Milwaukee Brewers and twirled a beauty, allowing only five hits and one run over seven stellar innings. He only needed 89 pitches to span the seven frames and was only lifted because the Brewers had a one-run lead heading into the eighth inning. That scenario is designed for the bullpen duo of Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford.
Over at FanGraphs this morning, I discussed how Michael Fiers relied heavily on his fastball and what makes his fastball unique, especially given it’s pedestrian velocity:
The interesting aspect about Fiers throwing his fastball so often lies in the fact that it does not overwhelm opposing hitters with plus velocity. He averaged 88 MPH with his fastball on Tuesday, which would be the slowest average fastball velocity off the eight pitchers listed above. In fact, of those pitchers, Joe Saunders is the only other pitcher who has an average fastball velocity under 90 MPH.
Further evidence that his fastball does not overwhelm hitters can be seen by the fact that Fiers only generated two swings-and-misses on the pitch all night. Its effectiveness relies on location and missing the barrel of the bat. He generates an extreme vertical break on his fastball, causing the pitch to “rise,” or perhaps more accurately, not drop as much as expected due to gravity. Fiers’ fastball had an average 12.1 vertical break last night. Only three qualifying starters have greater vertical break on their fastball.
Check out the entire article for the remainder of the information.
MLB DRAFT BUZZ
Due to the significant success the Brewers’ enjoyed last season, the organization will not select their first amateur player until the 27th pick of the first round in next month’s MLB Draft. Normally, picking that far down the draft board breeds uncertainty in terms of projecting which player may be selected. Too much can happen. Add the fact that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement takes effect this year, and that only increases the volatility of the first round.
With that said, it appears the Brewers have their eye on a very specific prep bat. ESPN’s Keith Law wrote on Tuesday that he projects the Brewers to select catcher Clint Coulter out of Union High School in Washington. What makes this projection significant is not the pick itself, but the information incapsulated in the accompanying blurb. Law writes:
This pick is seen by the industry as pretty much a lock at this point.
Rumors have floated about this month that the Brewers would look toward “signability” guys early in the draft, with expectations of making over-slot offers later in the draft. This Coulter news fits that mold perfectly, as Coulter is largely seen as a supplemental first-round or second-round talent. He possesses a big, strong body and a powerful bat, but concerns about his eventual defensive home has caused him to slip a bit.
Sounds like the Brewers love his bat. Though, as happens almost every year in the draft, nothing can be seen as a lock outside the first pick or two. Too much can happen. And the rumors connecting Milwaukee and right-hander Lucas Giolito simply will not go away, although that is probably a long shot (at best).
NELSON CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
Right-hander Jimmy Nelson continues to be one of the few true bright spots down on the farm this spring. He allowed only one run in six innings for Brevard County last night, surrendering three hits and striking out five. His velocity has hovered around 93-95 MPH this spring, and some have reported his fastball hitting 96-97 MPH at times. He is a definite Top 10 prospect at this point in the Brewers’ system, and at this point, I would not hesitate to jump him into my Top 5.
Do not be surprised when Nelson gets the call to Double-A Huntsville in the next few weeks, as the first half of the minor league seasons begin to come to an end.