Weekend Update: 3/6/16

LEFTY MORALES SIGNED TO MINOR LEAGUE DEAL

Another left-handed pitcher entered the Brewers spring training fray this weekend as the team announced the singing of 30-year-old Franklin Morales to a minor league contract that includes an invite to their big league camp.

Morales, who made his major league debut as a 21-year-old with the Colorado Rockies back in 2007, spent last season with the World Champion Kansas City Royals, going 4-2 with a 3.18 earned run average in 67 relief appearances.

He gives Milwaukee another left-handed option out of the bullpen on a staff that is thin on lefties with only Will Smith and Sean Nolin on the 40-man roster. If Morales can impress the Brewers brass over the next four weeks, he could find his way onto the opening day roster in the Brewers bullpen.

BROXTON LOOKS TO CLAIM CENTER FIELD JOB

The race for the Brewers starting center field job is wide open, but one name to keep an eye on is 25-year-old Keon Broxton. The athletic outfielder acquired from the Pirates during the offseason wasn’t expecting to be traded, but welcomed the move, quickly seeing the opportunity in front of him to contribute at the big league level in 2016.

“I was very shocked” said Broxton during an interview with MLB.com. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was thinking I was going to go into spring training with the Pirates and fight for a outfield spot. But when I got traded I saw that it was a good opportunity for me to be able to do what I wanted to do, and that’s play every day in the big leagues. It’s nice to be able to come out here and actually have a legit chance to make the club.”

Broxton is off to a fast start, hitting .333 with a .556 on base percentage through his first three spring training games and could wind up in center field at Miller Park when the Brewers break camp next month if he continues to get on base this spring.

“I love it here already” he said. “It’s awesome. Everyone’s very open and willing to help out any way that they can. It’s awesome.”

WILKINS ENJOYS EARLY POWER SURGE

With all of the moves the Brewers made over the offseason, one that kind of fell under the radar a bit was the addition of 27-year-old first baseman Andy Wilkins, who Milwaukee claimed off waivers from the Texas Rangers in December.

The move capped off a crazy offseason for Wilkins, with the Brewers being the fourth organization he joined in the course of a month. After finishing last season in the Los Angeles Dodgers system, Wilkins was selected off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles in September. The Orioles, needing to free up room on their 40-man roster, placed him on waivers in early December where he was snatched up by the Seattle Mariners. He lasted just 12 days as a Mariners before again going on waivers and being claimed by Texas on December 14th. His stint with the Rangers was even shorter though, again hitting the waiver wire, where Milwaukee picked him up two days before Christmas.

Finally settled into a new uniform, Wilkins has made the most of his limited opportunities early on this spring. The left-handed hitter has belted two home runs in only four at bats, knocking in five runs for the Brewers. Having played first base, third base, and the outfield during his minor league career, Wilkins has the chance to make a push for a bench job with the Brewers or could also provide the club with some depth in the minor leagues at Colorado Springs where he’d be just a call away from Milwaukee.

OTHER NEWS AND NOTES

– It doesn’t mean much, but the Brewers are 3-0-1 in Cactus League play so far, taking both split squad contests on Thursday, beating the Cubs and Giants, then following that up with a win over Seattle on Friday before tying with the Oakland Athletics on Saturday afternoon.

– Josh Hader continued to open eyes in his 2016 Cactus League debut on Thursday, tossing two scoreless innings while striking out three. Acquired from the Houston Astros last July, Hader pitched well after joining Double-A Biloxi, then followed that up with a dominant Arizona Fall League Season. He continues to impress with his somewhat unorthodoxed delivery and wipeout slider that could make him a key member of Milwaukee’s pitching staff in the near future.

– The Brewers Minor League pitchers and catchers have now reported to camp in Maryvale, leaving only some position players remaining left to do so. All of those remaining players not yet in camp are due to report by Friday, March 11th.

– Bleacher Report ran a story on Brewers prospect David Denson earlier in the week and among the interesting notes in the article was the apparent revelation that Denson will be moving to the outfield full-time this season. A first baseman through his first three seasons in the organization, the move is a bit puzzling, as the Brewers are loaded with talented outfield prospects at the lower levels such as Trent Clark, Monte Harrison, Demi Orimoloye, Troy Stokes and Malik Collymore and at bats could be hard to come by if Denson returns to Wisconsin in 2016 as many have speculated.

– Former Brewers farmhand Tyler Alexander was handed a 100 game suspension following his third positive test for a drug of abuse. Alexander, a 27th round pick in 2013 out of Florida International, spent two seasons in the Brewers system, advancing as high as Class-A Wisconsin, but the team cut ties with the young lefty following his second positive test. He spent last season pitching for the Fargo-Moorehead RedHawks of the independent American Association.

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