Minor League Mailbag: 4/21/14Our first mailbag of the season features questions about Wei-Chung Wang, Mike Fiers, Brock Kjeldgaard and an increase in bunt attempts at Class-A Wisconsin.
Can the Brewers afford to keep Wang in the bullpen all season? Won’t it eventually cost them if they are short-handed? (L.J., Fond du Lac, WI)
I think they can afford to for a couple of reasons. Number one, the Brewers have been getting some nice performances from their starters and the more times they can work deep in to games, the more it will help the bullpen. Secondly, the Brewers bullpen as presently contructed, has several arms (Thornburg, Duke, Smith, etc) who can all work multiple innings. Another thing to take in to consideration, is that while they may only have a 25-man roster at the big league level, the Brewers are working with a 40-man roster that features plenty of bullpen arms that they can move back and forth from Nashville as the season goes on. They made just such a move today, promoting Alfredo Figaro to Milwaukee and sending Rob Wooten back to Triple-A. We could see plenty of this as the season goes along with players like Blazek, Burgos, Fiers, Hellweg, etc.
Watching the Timber Rattlers this season, I’ve noticed a lot more bunting than usual. Are the Brewers moving more towards becoming a small-ball team? (Ryan, Appleton, WI)
I think it’s really just a matter of trying to get the most out of the players you have to work with. Looking at the Timber Rattlers roster, they feature a pair of guys who can flat out fly (Johnny Davis and Omar Garcia), but they also have plenty of other players with good speed as well, including Chris McFarland, Francisco Castillo and Angel Ortega. The Rattlers roster currently has more speed than power and so I think they want to try to take advantage of that as much as possible. These players will of course need to show that they can do more than just bunt in order to advance, but speed is a great tool and if a player has the wheels, why not take advantage of it?
Brock Kjeldgaard hasn’t been playing very much for Huntsville, what is his future with the Brewers? (Melissa, Appleton, WI)
Kjeldgaard has been in the Brewers organization for quite a while now, since 2005 to be exact, but he’s facing some long odds. A converted pitcher, Kjeldgaard has one of the better power bats in the system, but the other stats just haven’t been there. I think it’s rather telling that with Kentrail Davis and D’Vontrey Richardson both landing on the DL, Kjeldgaard still hasn’t been getting many at bats for the Stars. At 28-years-old and in his fourth season at Double-A, it’s going to be a mighty big hill for Kjeldgaard to climb.
Mike Fiers has been awesome this year. Do you think last year was just a fluke due to everything he had going on off the field? (Mike, Green Bay, WI)
I think the true Mike Fiers is somewhere in between 2013 and what we’ve seen so far in 2014. Certainly going through what he did last year would be distracting for anyone so you can’t fault him if it affected him. He’s been phenomenal so far this year at Nashville, and although I don’t expect him to remain as dominant all year long, I do think he’ll return to the major leagues at some point and will have a nice career as a back of the rotation starter or a long reliever.
Thanks, as always, for all the great emails. If you have questions about any of the Brewers prospects, feel free to email us at email@example.com or tweet us @BrewersMPP and we will pick a few of your questions to use in next month’s edition.