magnifico2 March 20

Spring Training Report: 3/20/2014

Damien Magnifico was selected to the Midwest League All-Star team in 2013.  (Photo: Brad Krause)

Damien Magnifico was selected to the Midwest League All-Star team in 2013. (Photo: Brad Krause)

STRONGER MAGNIFICO LOOKS TO KEEP CLIMBING BREWERS LADDER

When the Milwaukee Brewers selected Damien Magnifico in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, they were hoping to land a power arm who could move quickly through their system. So far, they haven’t been disappointed.

The power arm has been evident, with consistent radar gun readings in the mid to high 90’s. In fact, Magnifico’s fastball was recently ranked as the best in the Brewers organization by Baseball America.

The former University of Oklahoma standout has not wasted much time in climbing his way through the Brewers system either. After signing in 2012, he reported to Helena where he pitched in nine games. He began the 2013 season at Low-A Wisconsin and went 5-1 in 11 appearances, earning a spot on the Midwest League All-Star team.

Magnifico credits his early success in 2013 with staying relaxed and consistent, but notes that the April weather didn’t always make that easy.

“I wasn’t worrying about much” he said. “Just going out there and doing what I had to do. Just getting in to a routine. I’ve never been snowed out or have had where it’s been too cold for a game before, so that was a first.”

The 6’1″ righty’s performance at Wisconsin earned him a promotion to High-A Brevard County in June. Unfortunately things didn’t go as well in the Florida State League, as Magnifico developed a blister on his pitching hand that hindered him throughout the remainder of the season. It’s not an injury that he is worried about lingering around though.

“I came to instructional league two weeks after the season” he said, “and everything was fine, and everything’s been fine now.”

Magnifico has worked as both a starter and a reliever since joining the Brewers. And while scouts may be split as to whether his future lies in the rotation or in the bullpen, the 22-year-old from Mesquite, Texas is fine with either, as long as it gets him in a Brewers uniform. When asked if he had a preference, he responded by simply saying. “Not really, Whatever gets me up to Milwaukee faster.”

Fully healthy, Magnifico has his goals set high and hopes to pick up where he left off prior to the blister issues last season, and continue advancing through the Brewers system.

“This offseason I just worked out and got stronger” he said. “Focused more on my delivery than anything. I always hold myself to a high standard, but this season I just want to be more consistent, throw more strikes and hopefully move up.”

A return to Brevard to open 2014 seems likely, though a case could be made for him to start off in Huntsville. Either way, if Magnifico can repeat last year’s start to the season he should find himself at Double-A Huntsville before long, and in the Brewers plans in the not-too-distant future.

BIG LEAGUIN’

The Brewers picked up their third straight win on Thursday, topping the Colorado Rockies 4-3. Outfielder Caleb Gindl led the way, going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Minor League players Mitch Haniger, Tyrone Taylor, Brandon Macias and Kevin Mattison all saw action for the Brewers. Haniger started in right field in place of Ryan Braun and went 1-for-3. Taylor, Macias and Mattison all entered the game later and each went 0-for-1 in their only at bats.

BACK FIELD NOTES

I was at Maryvale again today, as Nashville and Huntsville played host to the Seattle Mariners. I sat on the Double-A game for the first few innings, before moving inside the stadium where Helena was taking on a team of July 2nd prospects from the International Prospect League. Here are a few of my observations from the day.

- Taylor Jungmann got the start for Huntsville and looked really good early on. A couple of Mariners hitters walked back to the dugout mumbling about Jungmann’s slider and the late cut on his fastball. In the third inning he seemed to lose some of his command after hitting a batter and Seattle started to hit him a little harder.

- Infelder Nick Shaw showed great range on a play early in the game, going deep in to the hole. It was surprising to me, as I haven’t seen much of Shaw at shortstop (he’s usually played second base when I’ve seen him), but he sure looked like he can handle the position. With his patient eye at the plate, and ability to work a count, Shaw looks like he could be a valuable utility player down the road.

- Speaking of range, shortstop Luis Aviles showed off incredible range on defense in Helena’s game against the IPL team. He also looked good on the bases as well, easily swiping second and then moving to third on the throw during the time I was watching. The Helena team as a whole was running at will on the young kids from Latin America. Third baseman Sthervin Matos even got in to the act by stealing second base.

- I had the chance to watch the IPL team take batting practice and infield. If you’re looking for a name for when July 2nd rolls around, one player that looked impressive was outfielder Sandro Fabian Pena. He went to all fields fairly well, showed good power and unleashed a few rocket throws from right field that were right on the money. He just turned 16 in March, and in my humble opinion, would sure look good in a Brewers uniform. Another player who impressed was outfielder Johan Sala Feliz. The left-handed hitting Dominican handled himself well, and had several hard hit line drives for the IPL team.

BREWERS RELEASE THIRTEEN

It was a tough day in camp as well, as the Brewers officially announced the release of thirteen players. Infielders Jalen Harris, Renaldo Jenkins, Adam Giacalone and Jesse Weiss, outfielder Ben McMahan, catchers Brent Dean and Tyler Roberts, and pitchers Jono Armold, Santo Manzanillo, Eduard Reyes, R.J. Seidel, Taylor Wall and Alan Williams were all released by the Brewers. Best of luck to them all, and here’s hoping they can catch on somewhere else and continue their careers.

ON DECK

The Brewers will face off against the Cincinnati Reds for the second time this spring on Friday. The Nashville Sounds will play the Louisville Bats at the Goodyear Develompent Complex. The Huntsville Stars will take on the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in Goodyear as well. The Brevard County Manatees will welcome the Bakersfield Blaze to Maryvale Baseball Park. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will also play host to the Dayton Dragons. Ariel Pena will get the start for Nashville, with Andy Moye taking the hill for Huntsville. Jorge Lopez will be on the mound for Brevard County, with Devin Williams getting the call for Wisconsin. All four games are scheduled to begin at 1:00 pm.