Spring Training Report: 3/21/2014
MATOS AMONG DOMINICAN YOUNGSTERS IN BREWERS CAMP
Spring Training in Maryvale is brand new to Brewers third base prospect Sthervin Matos.
After spending the past three seasons at the Brewers complex in the Dominican Republic, Matos – who just turned 20-years-old in February – was among a handful of players that Milwaukee brought with them to the states this spring to take part in their camp.
In his three seasons in the Dominican Summer League, the 6’1″ slugger had a combined .243 batting average.
After hitting just one home run in his first two seasons, Matos saw the extra-base hits start to come in bunches, as he muscled up for nine doubles and four round-trippers in 35 games last year. That increased power is something that Matos focused on as he prepared for 2014.
“This offseason I worked on improving my weaknesses including my physical strength” he said. The Brewers hope that results in more power as the youngster matures.
Another area that Matos is looking to improve, is defensively. The young Dominican committed 18 errors at the “hot corner” in just 34 games last season. He admits that some of the errors may have been due to a lack of concentration at times, but he is working hard to turn that around as he begins his first season stateside.
“I need to do a better job of preparing myself mentally, and staying focused the whole game” said Matos.
It’s an improvement that Matos knows he can make, and if he needs motivation, he can look to his favorite Major Leaguer, Los Angeles Dodgers infielder, Hanley Ramirez. “I like his hard work and the way he plays” said Matos.
Like Matos, Ramirez also had to overcome defensive struggles early on in his career. The 2006 National League Rookie of the Year, booted 27 balls in his first pro season in 2002, and followed that up with 36 errors the following year, before eventually turning in to a three-time All-Star.
After being limited to just 85 games over three seasons in the DSL – in part due to a torn meniscus suffered in 2012 – Matos should continue to get work at third base in extended spring training, until the Brewers rookie league affiliates begin play in late June.
As for his goals for the coming season, Matos is keeping things simple, exclaiming “I just want to continue moving forward to achieve my dream.”
Milwaukee announced a pair of roster moves today, including the release of pitcher Eric Arnett and the retirement of pitcher Andre Lamontagne. Arnett was the first round pick of the Brewers in 2009, but never advanced beyond Single-A in his five plus seasons in the organization. After a breakout season in 2010 that saw him advance three levels, Lamontagne was limited by injury the past three seasons and was never able to fully recover. He missed all of 2011, pitched in just 3 games in 2012, and made just 19 appearances in 2013 before being shut down in June.
The Brewers saw their winning streak snapped on Friday, falling to old friend Prince Fielder and the Texas Rangers by a score of 7-5. Jonathan Lucroy had the only multi-hit game for the Brewers, going 2-for-4. From the minor league side, outfielder Michael Reed and first baseman Garrett Cooper saw action for the Brewers. Reed came in to play center field and went 0-for-1, while Cooper drew a walk in his lone plate appearance before taking over at first base.
BACK FIELD NOTES
After a stop in Surprise this morning to see the Royals, it was back to Maryvale for me this afternoon, as Brevard County and Wisconsin squared off against affiliates of the Cincinnati Reds. I spent most of my time on the Wisconsin game, but made my way over to Brevard’s game several times as well. Here are a few of my observations from today’s action.
– Dustin Houle had a great day behind the plate for the Timber Rattlers. He got a workout from the pitching staff, but smothered everything.
– And while we’re on the subject of defense. Taylor Brennan’s defense was as good as advertised. He made three really good plays in the time that I was watching, going to both his right and his left.
– Tristan Archer got the start for the Timber Rattlers, but had a rough day. He was all over the place with his control, bouncing several pitches well short of the plate, and was replaced by Chris Razo with two outs in the third inning.
– I got my first look at pitcher Devin Williams today. He only went one inning, but he showed a good a fastball that he was able to blow by several Reds hitters. There were two balls that hitters squared up pretty good, but I overheard one Reds hitter state that he was just sitting fastball the whole time because he knew it was coming eventually. As Williams develops his other pitches, hitters won’t be able to do that to him, and it’s easy to see why the Brewers are excited about the young righty.
– Left-handed pitcher Tyler Alexander had to leave Brevard’s game after suffering an injury on the mound. It’s total speculation on my part, but judging by the way he was stretching it, it appeared to be a groin or hip injury for Alexander.
On Saturday the Brewers will be facing the Oakland Athletics affiliates. Brevard County and Wisconsin will travel to Papago Park to take on the Stockton Ports and the Beloit Snappers respectively. Meanwhile, there will be three games played at Maryvale Baseball Park. Nashville plays against the Sacramento River Cats, Huntsville does battle with the Midland RockHounds, and Helena will take on Madison College. Jimmy Nelson is listed as the scheduled starter for Nashville, with Brooks Hall on the mound for Huntsville. Chad Thompson will be pitching for Brevard County, and Taylor Williams is listed as the starter for Wisconsin. No word yet on who will start the game for Helena. All games start at 1:00 pm.