I had a chance to get up to Appleton on Saturday afternoon to watch the Timber Rattlers in action for the first time this season. After sputtering offensively through the first few innings, they erupted for six runs in the sixth inning and went on to beat Peoria 7-2. Here are a few of my observations of a few of the Brewers prospects following Saturday’s action at Fox Cities Stadium.
Drake Owenby – Owenby is a long-strider with some awkward looking mechanics as he appears to be looking about eight rows deep into the stands on the first base side as he delivers each pitch, but for the most part, it works for him. 53 of the 81 pitches he threw were for strikes and he didn’t walk a batter. He did allow seven hits in his six innings of work and doesn’t throw especially hard, topping out in the high-80’s, but he was effective and did a nice job of bearing down with runners on base.
Miguel Diaz – In stark contrast to Owenby, Diaz throws smoke. He was sitting in the 93-94 mph range and I saw a few 95’s on the stadium gun. The only run scored against him was unearned and he struck out a pair during his three innings of work, picking up the save for the T-Rats.
Carlos Belonis – Matt Erickson moved Belonis, who had been batting ninth, up into the leadoff spot and he responded with a big day, going 2-for-4 with a double and a home run. He did get thrown out on his double while trying to stretch it to three, but he showed some surprising pop to clear the fence in left field to start off the bottom of the seventh.
Isan Diaz – As advertised, Diaz showcased his impressive bat speed, turning on a pitch in the sixth inning and destroying it to center field. His blast hit high off of the scoreboard in left-center field and got out in a hurry. Defensively he was adequate, making the plays that came his way but didn’t have anything that really stood out in this game.
Monte Harrison – Harrison is a tough player to figure out. Some games he looks like the second coming of Ken Griffey, Jr. and other games he appears completely over-matched. Unfortunately, Saturday was the latter for Harrison. The tools are very evident and if/when he puts it together he could be a stud, but he struggled to make consistent contact at the plate, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He made a pair of nice, leaping catches in centerfield, though on at least one of them it appeared that his first step was in, before turning to race back and make the nice play.
Jake Gatewood – Gatewood is still finding his way at third base, and it’s going to take some time for him to get used to the position. He charges the ball fairly well and is more athletic than your average third baseman, but he also airmailed a throw to first base. He picked up one hit in four trips to the plate, but also had a pair of strikeouts.
David Denson – I’ve been losing hope for Denson, who just hasn’t put it together as we had hoped yet, but Saturday was one of the better games I’ve seen him play in quite a while. He had a pair of hits and showed nice patience at the plate, putting together some really nice at-bats. I’d like to see him get more time in the field, as he’s DH’d is just about every game he’s played in this season and a DH doesn’t have much value to a National League squad, but if he gets the bat going, the Brewers could always flip him later on.
Elvis Rubio – Rubio appears to be a more confident hitter than he was last year. He made some hard contact and he finished Saturday’s game going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. A wiry 6’3″ he looks awkward at times, especially on the basepaths, but he’s capable in the outfield and can play either corner.
Luis Aviles – Speaking of players who look more confident at the plate than a year ago, Aviles is making the most of his chances following the injury to Tucker Neuhaus. He went 1-for-3 and hit the ball hard in multiple at-bats. I hope the addition of Blake Allemand doesn’t take plate appearances away from Aviles. After struggling last season with Wisconsin, he thrived in Helena and seems to be carrying that over into this season and I’d really like to see what he can do with more consistent plate appearances.