Tyler Wagner (RHP)
Profile: The Brewers announced on Friday that Wagner would be joining the team for Sunday’s game, slotting in to the rotation in place of the injured Wily Peralta. Selected in the fourth round of the 2012 draft following a successful career at the University of Utah, Wagner began his pro career at Helena that same season. A closer in college, Wagner was inserted in to the starting rotation at Helena, starting 13 of his 14 games there. He moved to Class-A Wisconsin in 2013, where he appeared in 27 games, starting 25, and went 10-8 with a 3.21 earned run average.
Wagner was promoted to High-A Brevard County to begin 2014 and enjoyed a breakout season, going 13-6 in 25 starts with an incredible 1.86 ERA. He held opposing Florida State League hitters to a .221 batting average and earned a promotion to Double-A Huntsville at the end of the season, where he worked six scoreless innings and picked up a win in game four of the Stars playoff series with Chattanooga.
Milwaukee saw enough in Wagner that they sent him to the Arizona Fall League following the season, where he made nine relief appearances for Glendale. Wagner returned to Double-A to start the 2015 season as a key member of the starting rotation for the first-place Biloxi Shuckers. In nine starts for Biloxi, Wagner was 5-1 with a 2.01 ERA, allowing 12 earned runs in 53.2 innings of work.
Strengths: Wagner is a strong, innings-eater, with a good mound presence. His fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range with a natural sink that induces a lot of ground balls. He also has a power slider that he can use as a strikeout pitch when he needs one, and has held opposing hitters to a .239 average throughout his four year minor league career. He uses all parts of the plate and works deep in to games. He’s made the most of his move to the starting rotation with the Brewers organization and has shown marked improvement in each of the last three seasons as he’s advanced through Milwaukee’s system.
Weaknesses: It’s hard to find much that Wagner hasn’t done well the past few seasons but if you want to nitpick, his strikeout numbers have steadily gone down, resulting in just 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings this season. He also is still fairly raw, making just ten starts above Single-A.
Future: Wagner should get a few starts for Milwaukee as Wily Peralta is expected to be out of action for at least a month. Jumping from Double-A to the majors is no easy task, but if he has success he could influence the Brewers decision to move one or both of Kyle Lohse/Matt Garza before the trade deadline and as one of the Milwaukee’s top pitching prospects, Wagner has the opportunity to cement himself in the Brewers rotation long-term.