Spring Training Report: 3/19/2014
NEDA LOOKS FOR OFFENSE TO MATCH HIS DEFENSE
Milwaukee catcher Rafael Neda is known as one of the better defensive catchers in the Brewers organization, and his defense is something he takes pride in.
“I work a lot” said Neda. “Blocking, throwing, and learning from other catchers.”
“As a catcher, defense comes first. If you can hit, that helps a lot, but as a catcher I like to be the main guy for the pitchers back there and have that confidence from them.”
“I want them to be comfortable throwing to me. I love when pitchers want me behind the plate because they know they feel confident on every pitch. As a catcher, it’s rewarding when you hear that from them because you know you’re doing something right.”
In 2012, Neda was behind the plate in 74 games for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers as they captured the Midwest League Championship. That led to a spring training invite with the Brewers in 2013. It was an experience that Neda enjoyed, and says he learned a lot from.
“It was a really really good experience for me” said Neda. “In the time I was there, I got to learn how to do the things right, and how to prepare yourself for the every day practice. I kind of focused on every little thing they do. Every throw. Every swing they take. It just kind of makes you focus on everything. I really liked the time I spent there. Just working and be focused on myself and every little drill that I do. It taught me to just stay focused on having fun and keep a plan in mind.”
Neda’s 2013 season saw him limited to just 44 games at High-A Brevard County, due to the emergence of fellow catching prospect Cameron Garfield. The inconsistent playing time was a challenge for the 25-year-old from Sonora, Mexico, but he made sure to stay prepared at all times.
“It was tough” he said. “It was tough. But I got the idea I wasn’t playing every day so I had to prepare myself to be ready, just in case. I was still preparing myself like as if I was going to play every day. No matter if I wasn’t in the lineup, I had to be ready. And sometimes you have to play that roll. Sometimes you have to sit behind guys, but as a backup you have to be ready and you’ve got to know you might get the spot again. And that’s what I was focusing on. Just be ready, stay healthy and working on little things. You never know when they’re going to throw you out there and you’ve got to be ready.”
One area that Neda is looking to improve on this season, is his offense. With a .215 career minor league average, he knows that while defense is still his priority, he would like to have a bigger impact at the plate as well.
“This offseason, I’ve been working on my offense especially” said Neda. “Just letting myself loose with the bat. I just want to keep improving with my offense and to get loose and start swinging a little better and take advantage of the opportunities that the coaches give me.”
Neda’s offseason work is already paying dividends, as he opened up spring training by homering in his first two games. If the offense can catch up with the defense this season, Neda could very well find himself back across the Brewers Maryvale complex, in big league camp next spring.
TIMBER RATTLERS TO HOST BELOIT AT MILLER PARK
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers announced on Tuesday that they will once again be playing a game at Miller Park this season. The Rattlers will host the Beloit Snappers, the Class-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s, at 6:10 pm on Saturday, May 24th at the Brewers home stadium. Tickets went on sale on Wednesday morning and can be purchased online at Brewers.com, or by calling the Brewers Ticket Office at 800-933-7890.
The Brewers won their second game in a row on Wednesday, defeating the Seattle Mariners by a score of 9-7. Logan Schaffer, Khris Davis, Mark Reynolds, Juan Francisco and Wily Peralta all homered for Milwaukee. Peralta picked up the win, working six innings. Nick Shaw, Michael Reed, Chadwin Stang and Nick Ramirez all saw action from the minor league side. Shaw, Stang and Reed each had one at bat, while Ramirez entered as a defensive replacement at first base in the ninth inning.
On Thursday the Brewers affiliates will be squaring off against the Seattle Mariners. Nashville plays host to the Tacoma Rainiers while Huntsville welcomes the Jackson Generals to Maryvale. Brevard County travels to Peoria to face the High Desert Mavericks, and Wisconsin joins them, doing battle against the Clinton LumberKings. The Brewers rookie affiliate will also be in action as the International Prospect League makes a visit to Maryvale. The IPL squad will take batting practice at 11:45, then infield at 12:30 before facing the Brewers in a game at 1:00. Johnny Hellweg will get the start for Nashville with Taylor Jungmann on the mound for Huntsville. Tyler Wagner is the scheduled starter for Brevard County, while Anthony Banda makes his second start of the spring for Wisconsin.