Rob Wooten (RHP)
Profile: The Brewers announced on Thursday that Wooten had been promoted to Milwaukee as Sean Halton was sent back down to Nashville. Wooten was selected by the Brewers in the 13th round of the 2008 draft. After signing he saw action in 14 games between Helena and West Virginia, posting a 1.71 ERA and striking out 44 batters in 31.2 innings.
Wooten began the 2009 season at High-A Brevard County. He made 26 relief appearances for the Manatees, going 1-1 with a 1.20 ERA, prompting a promotion to Double-A Huntsville. In 27 Double-A games he put up a 4.28 ERA while striking out 34 batters in 27.1 innings.
Appearing to be on a fast track to the Milwaukee bullpen, an elbow injury derailed Wooten. He missed the entire 2010 season following Tommy John surgery. The 6’1″ righty from North Carolina bounced back in 2011, again splitting the season between Brevard County and Huntsville. As he worked his way back, he went a combined 5-3 with a 3.09 ERA.
The 2012 season opened with Wooten back at Huntsville. He saw action in 17 games for the Stars, going 3-0 and allowing just four earned runs before getting the bump to Triple-A Nashville. In 40 games with the Sounds, he posted a 3.93 ERA.
Wooten returned to Nashville to begin the 2013 season. Operating as the Sounds closer, he had racked up 20 saves through 40 games and had a 2.94 ERA at the time of his call-up. Those numbers earned Wooten a spot as Nashville’s lone representative on the Pacific Coast League All-Star team.
Strengths: Relying heavily on command, Wooten knows how to pitch and set up hitters. His slider may be his best pitch and he uses it well to keep opposing batters off balance. Having worked exclusively as a reliever, he’s no stranger to high pressure situations and has totaled 78 saves throughout his Minor League career.
Weaknesses: The strikeout numbers have fallen for Wooten as he’s advanced through the organization. Since striking out 12.5 per 9 innings in 2008, he has K’d just 7.8 batters per 9 innings in 2013. He doesn’t throw hard and that lack of velocity could hurt him if he’s not hitting his spots every time out.
The Future: Already 28 years old, Wooten has paid his dues and now gets his chance in the big leagues. With established relievers like John Axford and Jim Henderson in the Brewers bullpen, Wooten likely won’t find himself closing out games to start, but with the trade deadline looming and several arms on the block, Milwaukee’s bullpen could undergo a shakeup and give Wooten a chance in late inning situations. What the Brewers do over the course of the next few days will make that clearer, but if he shows the ability to get hitters out at the Major League level, Wooten could be a key part of the Brewers bullpen in 2014 and beyond.