Spring Training Report: 3/22/2014
NEUHAUS PREPARES FOR NEW SEASON
When the Brewers signed pitcher Kyle Lohse last March, it came at a steep price, as Milwaukee was forced to surrender their first round draft choice in order to sign the veteran righty.
Fortunately for the Brewers, they were able to land some first round talent in the second round of the draft. One of those players they selected was third baseman Tucker Neuhuas.
The left-handed hitting infielder missed a good part of his senior season due to injury, and fell to the Brewers, who were happy to grab him in the second round.
After signing with Milwaukee, he began his pro career in the Arizona League, where he hit .231 with 12 doubles and 24 RBI in 51 games. Neuhaus noted, that for him, the big difference in going from high school to the pros was the increased workload.
“Mainly just playing every day” he said. “Being ready to go out there even when you’re tired. Just perform your best, even when you’re not feeling it, but mainly just the every day grind.”
The 18-year-old is going through his first Spring Training with the Brewers and has been working hard to improve on his numbers from last season.
“For me, it’s just getting the reps, getting back in to mid-season form” said Neuhaus. “It’s been fun so far. Just working hard, having fun, and doing the best you can every day.”
After splitting time between shortstop and third base last season, Neuhaus is taking on the role of full-time third baseman in 2014.
“I think it’s just third base now” he said. “Strictly third. Which I’m just getting more reps, getting comfortable there. (That) is my main focus right now.”
There are certainly challenges involved with making the transition for the former high school shortstop from Tampa, Florida, but he’s getting more and more comfortable with the position every day.
“Third base, there’s really not much routine about third base” said Neuhaus. “Balls are hit a lot differently, chopped, sliced, but I’m starting to get a pretty good feel for it.”
As a new season approaches, Neuhaus is working on his all-around game and hopes to improve both offensively and defensively.
“For me, it’s just playing defensively pretty well at third base” he said. “Just staying consistent with the bat. I switched a couple things in the offseason and instructional league so just hitting for a better average and staying within myself more.”
The young infielder may stay in Arizona for Extended Spring Training to begin the season, but could make his way to Class-A Wisconsin before too long, where Brewers fans will be able to get an up-close look at what could be their third baseman of the future.
On Saturday the Brewers banged out 14 hits, but fell to the Angels 9-6. Carlos Gomez led the way for the Brewers offense, going 2-for-4 with a home run. Jeff Bianchi, Martin Maldonado and Elian Herrera each also had two hits for Milwaukee. From the minor league side, Pete Orr replaced Rickie Weeks at second base and went 0-for-2. Outfielder Tyrone Taylor came on for Carlos Gomez and went 0-for-1, while Shea Vucinich also saw action late in the game as a pinch runner.
BACK FIELD NOTES
I was at Papago Park in Phoenix this afternoon to watch Brevard County and Wisconsin take on the Oakland A’s. I spent most of the day on the Brevard game, but managed to see some of Wisconsin’s as well. Here are a few quick observations from today’s action.
- Cameron Garfield is red-hot at the plate right now, and put up a 4-for-4 day for Brevard County that included a double and home run. The only reason I could see him breaking camp with the Manatees is if the Brewers want him to further work on defense, but offensively he has been killing the ball and has owned Single-A pitching this spring.
- Victor Roache also had a home run for Brevard County, and it was an absolute blast that you knew was gone when it left the bat. That Manatees lineup should be fun to watch this season with the likes of Michael Reed, Tyrone Taylor and Roache.
- As I mentioned, I didn’t see much of the Wisconsin game, but in the limited time I was watching, catcher Clint Coulter put on a show behind home plate. He did a good job of blocking and gunned down a pair of runners trying to steal in the bottom of the first inning.
- One interesting lineup note was that Brevard had both Orlando Arcia and Yadiel Rivera in the lineup at the same time today. Rivera was at short and Arcia at second. If both players start in Brevard County it will be interesting to see how the playing time is split. The two combined to turn a beauty of a double play today, and as much as I don’t like the idea of moving Arcia off shortstop, having those two up the middle makes for a really solid defense.
- On Thursday the Brevard County kids got to go up against Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez in Peoria, today at Papago, they got to face another Major Leaguer as A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes took a few at bats. In the two at bats I saw, Chad Pierce got Cespedes to pop up on the first pitch the first time he faced him, then surrendered a double in the fourth inning.
On Sunday the Brewers affiliates will once again be facing the Cincinnati Reds. Nashville and Huntsville will be at Goodyear against Louisville and Pensacola, while Brevard County and Wisconsin will play host to Bakersfield and Dayton. Hiram Burgos is scheduled to start for Nashville with Drew Gagnon getting the call for the Stars. Marco Estrada will be starting the High-A game for Brevard County, while Barrett Astin will be on the mound for the Timber Rattlers. All four games are scheduled to begin at 1:00 pm.