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Nottingham's number retired at California HS

MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Before reporting to his fourth Spring Training in the Brewers' system, Jacob Nottingham visited his baseball roots.

The 23-year-old was home at Redlands High School in Southern California over the weekend, where he became the first player from the school to have his uniform number retired in baseball. Nottingham starred in baseball and football for the Terriers, and was so accomplished on the football field that he was offered a scholarship to play linebacker and tight end at the University of Arizona.

MILWAUKEE -- Before reporting to his fourth Spring Training in the Brewers' system, Jacob Nottingham visited his baseball roots.

The 23-year-old was home at Redlands High School in Southern California over the weekend, where he became the first player from the school to have his uniform number retired in baseball. Nottingham starred in baseball and football for the Terriers, and was so accomplished on the football field that he was offered a scholarship to play linebacker and tight end at the University of Arizona.

But after hitting .543 as a senior at Redlands, the Astros made Nottingham a sixth-round Draft pick in 2013 and he chose baseball. He was traded to the A's in 2015 as part of a trade for Scott Kazmir, then shipped to the Brewers just before the start of 2016 Spring Training in the trade that sent slugging outfielder Khris Davis to Oakland.

Nottingham -- ranked as Milwaukee's No. 9 prospect by MLB Pipeline -- made his Major League debut last season and will be back in camp this spring as part of a crowded catching corps. Milwaukee signed switch-hitting former All-Star Yasmani Grandal to be the primary catcher in front of Manny Pina, Erik Kratz and Nottingham.

Nottingham is one of 15 players and coaches inducted into Redlands High School's baseball hall of fame.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jacob Nottingham

Top prospect Hiura leads Crew's camp invites

Brewers' first full-squad workout scheduled for Feb. 19
MLB.com

The Brewers invited nine Minor League players to Major League Spring Training on Wednesday, a group headlined by top prospect Keston Hiura.

Milwaukee extended non-roster invitations to nine prospects, bringing the club's total of non-roster invitees to 14. The Brewers' first Spring Training workout for pitchers and catchers is set for Feb. 14, and their first full-squad workout will take place on Feb. 19.

The Brewers invited nine Minor League players to Major League Spring Training on Wednesday, a group headlined by top prospect Keston Hiura.

Milwaukee extended non-roster invitations to nine prospects, bringing the club's total of non-roster invitees to 14. The Brewers' first Spring Training workout for pitchers and catchers is set for Feb. 14, and their first full-squad workout will take place on Feb. 19.

The full list of non-roster prospects coming to big league camp: Hiura, third baseman Lucas Erceg, catcher Payton Henry, infielder Nate Orf, outfielder Corey Ray and right-handers Zack Brown, Bubba Derby, Jon Olczak and Miguel Sanchez.

There will be a lot of attention on Hiura, the club's No. 1 prospect and the No. 30 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline. A first-round pick in 2017, the 22-year-old second baseman climbed from Class A Advanced Carolina to Double-A Biloxi last season while hitting .293/.357/.464 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs in 123 games. Hiura finished his excellent year in the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .323 with a .934 OPS in 23 games.

Video: Hiura on takeaways from a great Fall League season

Ray, the Brewers' No. 2 prospect, slashed .239/.323/.477 with 27 homers and 37 steals at Double-A last season. Drafted fifth overall in 2016, Ray was named the Brewers Minor League Player of the Year and the Southern League MVP in 2018.

Brown was also an organizational award winner last season, as he was named Milwaukee's Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The Brewers' No. 8 prospect finished the year 9-1 with a 2.44 ERA, 116 strikeouts and 36 walks in 22 games for Biloxi. A fifth-round pick in the 2016 Draft, Brown was named the Southern League's Most Outstanding Pitcher last season.

Erceg, the Brewers' No. 4 prospect, slashed .248/.306/.382 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs in 123 games at Double-A last season. Henry, the club's No. 11 prospect, batted .234 with a .707 OPS in 98 games for Class A Wisconsin. Orf, 28, made his big league debut last season and slashed .298/.397/.426 for Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Derby, acquired along with Jacob Nottingham in the Khris Davis trade, put together a 4.49 ERA over 31 outings, including 16 starts, in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. The 25-year-old Olczak enjoyed a strong year in the Biloxi bullpen, posting a 1.44 ERA and 0.96 WHIP with 60 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings over 42 appearances. Sanchez split the year between Carolina and Biloxi and made one Triple-A appearance, recording an overall 2.52 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 95 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings over 34 appearances.

The Brewers also added a split-squad game against the Angels on March 9 to their Cactus League schedule; that game will take place in Tempe, Ariz. Milwaukee also moved up two games by an hour. The Brewers' March 8 game against the D-backs will now begin at 12:05 p.m. local time, and their March 24 game against Arizona will start at 12:10 p.m.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com.

Milwaukee Brewers

Depth in 2B market gives Brewers options

Perez, Saladino among internal candidates; Shaw moving back to 3B
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Last week's decision to non-tender Jonathan Schoop means the Brewers need a second baseman. But so far, general manager David Stearns has said more about who will not fill that position on Opening Day than he has revealed about who will.

It will not be top prospect Keston Hiura, despite Hiura's quick ascent through the Minor Leagues, including a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League that earned him MVP honors.

MILWAUKEE -- Last week's decision to non-tender Jonathan Schoop means the Brewers need a second baseman. But so far, general manager David Stearns has said more about who will not fill that position on Opening Day than he has revealed about who will.

It will not be top prospect Keston Hiura, despite Hiura's quick ascent through the Minor Leagues, including a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League that earned him MVP honors.

"Yeah, the answer is no on that. I'll shut that one off right away," Stearns said the week of Thanksgiving. "Keston has done a tremendous job. He deserves the accolades he's been getting. He's proven what we thought was going to happen out of the Draft. He can hit. He's continued to hit in pro ball. He does it in a unique way, but everyone who sees him, everyone who watches him, doesn't question the fact that this guy's going to hit. What's been most encouraging for us and what was a question coming out of the Draft was how his health was going to shore up and how he's going to play defensively. Everything we've seen there has been encouraging."

So why not make Hiura the second baseman? Two reasons, one which Stearns can say publicly -- Hiura has yet to take an at-bat above the Double-A level -- and one which he cannot. Installing Hiura at second base on Opening Day would start his Major League service clock. By waiting until later in the season to promote him, the Brewers would give Hiura the Triple-A experience he likely needs while extending his window of club control.

Video: Hiura on takeaways from a great Fall League season

So it won't be Hiura.

Who will it be? Here are some options.

Internal candidates
The Brewers have four players who appeared in the Majors at second base last season in the organization: Hernan Perez, Tyler Saladino, Travis Shaw and Nate Orf, though Orf isn't on the 40-man roster and Shaw began last season as the third baseman and the "default," Stearns said, is to move him back there.

Video: PHI@MIL: Perez makes sliding stop for force out

Perez and Saladino both signed one-year contracts Friday to avoid arbitration. Perez is a known commodity at this point, valued more for his defensive versatility than his bat (.696 OPS in parts of four years with the Brewers). Saladino is a similar player, though he started hot for the Brewers after they acquired him from the White Sox, slashing .324/.359/.622 in May before an ankle injury sent him to the disabled list. Like Perez and Orf, however, Saladino is probably more of a platoon player or utility man.

Video: MIL@WSH: Saladino crushes a solo shot in the 9th

Shaw, however, is an everyday bat. He has hit 63 home runs with an .844 OPS in two years with the Brewers, including a stint playing primarily second base after the Brewers traded for Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas in July. Moustakas hit the free-agent market after the season, and the Brewers don't have a replacement aside from Shaw, so the current plan is to move Shaw back to the hot corner.

But as the offseason progresses, Shaw's proficiency at second base means the Brewers can also eye offseason options at third.

"I think it's a possibility, but it's not something we'd commit to right now," Stearns said. "There are a lot of things that would go into making something like that happen, including a conversation with Travis, but the versatility that Travis has demonstrated shows that it's something that we would at least consider."

Video: COL@MIL Gm2: Shaw ranges to make slick stop, throw

The other internal option for second base is Mauricio Dubon, the 24-year-old middle infielder who ranks No. 7 on MLB Pipeline's list of Milwaukee prospects. He was on his way to a promotion last summer, when he was hitting .343/.348/.574 at Triple-A before suffering a season-ending knee injury in May. He underwent surgery to repair his left ACL, and while he is expected to be ready for Spring Training, Dubon may require some Minor League time to get his legs back under him.

External candidates
Second base happens to be one of this offseason's deepest positions in free agency, with options including Marwin Gonzalez, Jed Lowrie, Daniel Murphy, Brian Dozier, DJ LeMahieu, Josh Harrison, Asdrubal Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Daniel Descalso, Neil Walker and Logan Forsythe -- some of whom may have to take the sort of short-term contract the Brewers prefer. That list grew at Friday's non-tender deadline, with the Mets' Wilmer Flores among those cut loose.

Video: Flores enters free agency after Mets non tender

Possible trade targets include San Francisco's Joe Panik, a left-handed hitter who avoided arbitration on Friday by agreeing to a $3.8 million contract for 2019. He's coming off a down year, but he is under club control through 2019, and the Giants are in the market for outfielders. The Brewers, who listened to offers last winter for Domingo Santana, remain relatively deep in that area. Santana is arbitration-eligible this offseason after a down year of his own.

More expensive possibilities include Cleveland's Jason Kipnis and Miami's Starlin Castro, who have eight-figure salaries, or Kansas City's Whit Merrifield, a versatile player coming off an .806 OPS season who is still a year from arbitration. The cost would be high, and Merrifield would overlap with the arrivals of Dubon and Hiura, but his versatility could make it work.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Brewers add Supak, Stokes to 40-man roster

Milwaukee protects duo from December's Rule 5 Draft
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers added right-hander Trey Supak and outfielder Troy Stokes Jr. to their 40-man roster on Tuesday to shield them from next month's Rule 5 Draft, but they also left unprotected three others on MLB Pipeline's list of Milwaukee's top prospects.

They are No. 10 prospect Jake Gatewood, who underwent surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee in August and will miss much of 2019, and pitchers Cody Ponce (No. 17) and Carlos Herrera (No. 28).

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers added right-hander Trey Supak and outfielder Troy Stokes Jr. to their 40-man roster on Tuesday to shield them from next month's Rule 5 Draft, but they also left unprotected three others on MLB Pipeline's list of Milwaukee's top prospects.

They are No. 10 prospect Jake Gatewood, who underwent surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee in August and will miss much of 2019, and pitchers Cody Ponce (No. 17) and Carlos Herrera (No. 28).

• Brewers' Top 30 prospects

Supak, 22, is No. 13 on that list and coming off a 2.48 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 137 2/3 innings between Class A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Biloxi in 2018. Stokes, the Brewers' 15th-ranked prospect, is 22 and already has played parts of two seasons at Double-A Biloxi, where he slashed .233/.343/.430 with 19 home runs and 19 stolen bases last season while manning all three outfield positions.

The Rule 5 Draft offers a path to the Majors for players who have been in the Minor Leagues for a number of years, with the timing of their eligibility determined by a player's age when he signed. Generally, if a player is selected, he must remain on his team's big league roster for the entirety of the following season or be offered back to his original team.

Gatewood, 23 and coming off a career-high 19 home runs in 94 games in a season spent at Double-A Biloxi, would be tricky for a claiming team because of his injury, though the rules do allow for time on the disabled list.

Ponce, 24, was Milwaukee's second-round pick in 2015 and had a 4.36 ERA in 95 innings at Biloxi. Herrera is just 21 and has no experience above the Class A Midwest League. He logged a 5.46 ERA in 85 2/3 innings at Wisconsin last season and saw his strikeout rate fall to 6.3 per nine innings.

Other notable pitchers who will be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft include 24-year-old Bubba Derby and 25-year-old Jon Olczak, who represented the Brewers in the prospect-rich Arizona Fall League; righty Nate Griep, who has 88 saves in 159 professional appearances; and former Top 30 prospects Phil Bickford, Nathan Kirby and Devin Williams. Bickford was the centerpiece of the 2015 trade that sent reliever Will Smith to the Giants, but he has been suspended and injured since joining the Brewers system. Kirby and Williams are former first-round Draft picks (Kirby in the supplemental phase) who have undergone Tommy John surgery.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Trey Supak

Hiura staying hot, getting reps at 2nd in AFL

MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Keston Hiura's ability to hit has never been questioned.

The Brewers' top prospect (No. 30 overall), owner of a 70-grade hit tool, led NCAA Division I hitters with a .442 average as a junior at the University of California, Irvine, before the Brewers selected him ninth overall in the 2017 Draft. In his pro debut, Hiura hit .371, and in 2018, his first full season, he reached Double-A Biloxi and hit .293.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Keston Hiura's ability to hit has never been questioned.

The Brewers' top prospect (No. 30 overall), owner of a 70-grade hit tool, led NCAA Division I hitters with a .442 average as a junior at the University of California, Irvine, before the Brewers selected him ninth overall in the 2017 Draft. In his pro debut, Hiura hit .371, and in 2018, his first full season, he reached Double-A Biloxi and hit .293.

With that kind of track record, it's no surprise that Hiura is raking in the Arizona Fall League -- hitting .326 and leading all players with 19 RBIs through 11 games. However, the opportunity to get extra at-bats, while always an added bonus, was not why he was sent to Arizona.

Arizona Fall League overviews for all 30 teams

"I like going up there and seeing a bunch of great arms and challenging myself at the plate," Hiura said. "But a big reason for me being here is to get more reps on the defensive side and work hard in that aspect."

Hiura is an average defender and has decent footwork at second base, but he hasn't played a lot of defense in his brief professional career.

A right elbow injury caused Hiura to begin his career as a designated hitter. After completing a throwing program in 2017, Hiura appeared in three games at second in 2017 and then played the position 79 times this season.

The 22-year-old began the year with two goals, to stay healthy and to get as many defensive reps as possible.

He accomplished the first goal and is constantly working on the second, having played eight of his nine AFL games at second base, in addition to taking extra grounders during batting practice.

"Throughout the year I was able to get a good amount of reps at second base," Hiura said. "Obviously the more you take live ground balls off the bat, the more comfortable you feel out there. Being able to throw from different lengths and arm angles definitely helps when it comes to my future."

Video: Hiura on earning Fall League Player of the Week award

Brewers pitchers in Fall League

Daniel Brown, LHP -- The 23-year-old reliever spent the entire season with Class A Advanced Carolina, where he went 7-4 with a 4.20 ERA in 39 games. Brown, a seventh-round pick (2016) racked up 61 strikeouts and issued 34 walks in 64 1/3 innings.

Bubba Derby, RHP -- Derby, whom the Brewers acquired from Oakland in February 2016, reached Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2017 and then spent the entire 2018 season with the Sky Sox as well. The former sixth-round pick (2016) posted a 4.49 ERA through 118 1/3 innings and saw time as both a starter and a reliever -- making 16 starts and 15 appearances out of the bullpen. Derby fared well in Triple-A in 2017 but struggled with control this season as he walked 50 batters. He also gave up 127 hits and allowed opponents to hit .279.

Jon Olczak, RHP -- The 24-year-old put together the best full season of his professional career, pitching for Class A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Biloxi. Olczak, a reliever, went 10-3 with a 1.39 ERA and converted six of seven save opportunities across 44 appearances (58 1/3 innings pitched). The right-hander also walked 19 and struck out 63.

Miguel Sanchez, RHP -- Sanchez pitched across a trio of levels and went 2-1 with a 2.52 ERA in 34 relief appearances. The right-hander spent most of the year (23 appearances) with Double-A Biloxi, where opponents hit just .213 off him. However, Sanchez has just as much success at his other stops too. Overall, Sanchez had a .201 opponents' batting average and piled up 95 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

Brewers hitters in Fall League

Trent Grisham, OF (No. 19) -- Grisham's overall slash line of .233/.356/.337 won't jump off the page, but his reduced strikeout totals certainly do. After fanning 141 times in 133 games last season, Grisham struck out 87 times in 107 games in 2018, and he did so while playing at the Double-A level for the first time. The former first-round pick (2015) played all three outfield positions, but likely fits best in center.

Mario Feliciano, C (No. 23) -- The 19-year-old was sent to the Fall League to make up for lost time as he played in 46 games this season as he battled injuries. Feliciano showed offensive potential in 2017, his first full season, hitting .251/.320/.331 with four homers. However, Feliciano struggled at the plate this season, hitting .205/.282/.329 through 42 games with Class A Advanced Carolina before being sent to the rookie-level Arizona League.

Weston Wilson, 1B -- Wilson is the definition of versatile. The 24-year-old has played seven positions (he hasn't pitched or caught) in his Minor League career and played six (didn't play center field) in 2018 alone. Since he was selected in the 17th-round of the 2016 Draft, Wilson has spent the bulk of his career at either first or third base. In addition to playing all over the diamond, Wilson also had his best offensive season to date. The 24-year-old hit .270/.326/.434 and hit a career-high 14 homers in 117 games. Wilson spent most of the season with Class A Advanced Carolina but was promoted to Double-A Biloxi late in the year.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Milwaukee Brewers

Hiura belts 3rd AFL HR in comeback victory

MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Keston Hiura, the Brewers' No. 1 prospect, again showed why he's one of the best hitters in the Arizona Fall League this year, as he led Peoria to a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Mesa on Thursday at Peoria Sports Complex.

Hiura went 2-for-4, with his biggest hit coming in the seventh inning. MLB's No. 30 overall prospect belted a two-run home run, his third homer of the Fall League season, to tie the game at 3.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Keston Hiura, the Brewers' No. 1 prospect, again showed why he's one of the best hitters in the Arizona Fall League this year, as he led Peoria to a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Mesa on Thursday at Peoria Sports Complex.

Hiura went 2-for-4, with his biggest hit coming in the seventh inning. MLB's No. 30 overall prospect belted a two-run home run, his third homer of the Fall League season, to tie the game at 3.

Hiura leads the AFL with 19 RBIs, and he is batting .326 through 12 games. The Milwaukee second baseman attributes his consistency to staying relaxed and having fun.

2018 Arizona Fall League rosters

"Just knowing my body, staying within myself, not trying to do too much," Hiura said. "Going out on the field having fun every day with a bunch of great players."

Coming off his second season of pro baseball, the Brewers' 2017 first-round pick has lived up to his billing as one of the top hitters from his Draft class.

"It's the same game you've played since you were a little kid," Hiura said. "Regardless of if there's 10 fans or thousands of fans, it's the same game."

After hitting four home runs in 42 games in his first season in the Minors, Hiura hit 13 homers in 123 games in the 2018 Minor League campaign. As for his recent power surge in the Fall League, Hiura says it is less mechanical and more mental.

"I haven't messed with my swing since probably high school," Hiura said. "Eliminate the pitches they're trying to get me to chase at and be able to put the barrel on the ball."

Although Hiura is having success in the AFL, he knows there are ways he can still improve.

Video: Hiura on earning Fall League Player of the Week award

"A big reason I'm out here this fall is to get more work at second base," Hiura said. "Get more live reads off the bat and be able to move around the infield."

Hiura was the Arizona Fall League Player of the Week last week, and he's now having another great week for Peoria.

Andre Simms is a senior journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Milwaukee Brewers

Pipeline names Crew's Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- It was a case of mutual admiration when the Brewers' MLB Pipeline hitting and pitching prospects of the year reunited in the dugout at Miller Park at the end of September.

Corey Ray and Zack Brown spent a lot of time together in dugouts in 2018. They were teammates at Double-A Biloxi.

MILWAUKEE -- It was a case of mutual admiration when the Brewers' MLB Pipeline hitting and pitching prospects of the year reunited in the dugout at Miller Park at the end of September.

Corey Ray and Zack Brown spent a lot of time together in dugouts in 2018. They were teammates at Double-A Biloxi.

"We would score, and I would come in the dugout and say, 'How many more do you need?'" said Ray, the former first-round Draft pick who batted leadoff for Biloxi. "A lot of times, he would look at the scoreboard and say, 'That's good.'"

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Many times, those runs would come in the first inning thanks to Ray, the first player in Southern League history to lead the way in both homers and stolen bases. He was named league MVP, and Brown was the circuit's pitcher of the year after leading the league and the Brewers organization with a 2.44 ERA.

Each team's hitting and pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

"It was awesome to start a game with Corey in the box," said Brown. "However many leadoff home runs he hit -- you knew he was going to put the bat on the ball early in the game. Hopefully, before I ever touched the mound, I had a run or two."

Video: Top Prospects: Corey Ray, OF, Brewers

It was the sort of season Ray was looking for after a relatively disappointing 2017. Milwaukee made him the fifth overall pick in the '16 Draft, and Ray posted a .679 OPS at Class A Advanced Carolina in his first full professional season.

This year, after moving up to Double-A, his OPS was .801. Ray hit 27 homers, 32 doubles and seven triples while stealing 37 bases.

"For me, mentally, just for some of the hard work to have paid off in a small way is very encouraging," Ray said. "You work so hard, and you know that one day it will pay off. Just to be moving in the right direction allows me to continue to work hard -- and maybe even work harder."

Video: Ray, Brown named Brewers' Minor League POY

Brown, a fifth-round pick in the same Draft that brought Ray to the Brewers, won the honor despite missing a month with a sprained ankle. The Shuckers were 20-2 when he pitched.

"It took a hit on me mentally, but I think in Arizona I was just trying to stay on track," Brown said. "It was four weeks between outings in Biloxi, and to come back and have a good outing and get back with the guys -- that was huge for me."

The duo were together in Milwaukee to be honored on the field during the final homestand of the regular season after being named organizational Minor League player and pitcher of the year by the Brewers. For Brown, that meant following in some big footsteps; the previous two winners of the award, Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, were the first two pitchers sent to the mound by the Brewers in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Rockies.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

San Antonio becomes Brewers' Triple-A affiliate

MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers have a new Triple-A home in San Antonio.

The Missions, who are moving up a level to the Pacific Coast League for 2019 after more than a century in the Double-A Texas League, entered into a two-year player development contract with the Brewers on Tuesday, marking another move for Milwaukee's top Minor League affiliate.

View Full Game Coverage

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers have a new Triple-A home in San Antonio.

The Missions, who are moving up a level to the Pacific Coast League for 2019 after more than a century in the Double-A Texas League, entered into a two-year player development contract with the Brewers on Tuesday, marking another move for Milwaukee's top Minor League affiliate.

View Full Game Coverage

The Brewers spent the past four years in Colorado Springs, but owners of that club -- the Elmore Sports Group -- are relocating the franchise to San Antonio. Before Tuesday's announcement, the possibilities were down to Fresno or San Antonio.

"We had a chance to go down there last week and view the facility, see what changes and renovations they are going to make to the facility, and we were impressed," Brewers general manager David Stearns said. "A great market for our highest affiliate. We think it's a great final stop before our players come to Milwaukee."

Tweet from @missionsmilb: Missions Announce two year PDC with the @Brewers in @TripleABaseball #ThisIsMyCrew https://t.co/bXcsqrz1g0 pic.twitter.com/zA6ORaepsP

Just like in Nashville, Tenn. -- Milwaukee's Triple-A home from 2005-14 -- the Brewers will find themselves in the middle of a stadium debate. Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium opened in 1994, eight miles outside of downtown, and plans for a new downtown ballpark have not materialized. Stearns said he viewed that as a "longer-term project" for the Elmore Group and that the Brewers were focused on improving the current facility.

Missions president Burl Yarbrough said the team plans to upgrade the clubhouse and batting cages for the move up to Triple-A. Those projects are expected to be ready for next season, Stearns said, and while they will be paid for by the affiliate, the Brewers had input.

The current playing surface, however, "is outstanding," Stearns said, and having a Triple-A team in the Central Time Zone near a major airport will represent an improvement in terms of getting players to the big leagues in times of need.

"We are very excited to be working with the Milwaukee Brewers," Yarbrough said in a statement. "With our promotion to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, they will be terrific partners as we begin a new era of Missions baseball in 2019. The Brewers were in town last week to see our facility and discuss our renovation plans for the clubhouse and batting cages.

"After meeting with them and seeing their excitement for San Antonio, we feel the Brewers were the best fit for us. The Brewers have one of the top farm systems in baseball, and we look forward to helping them put many more players into Major League Baseball."

The teams have history. The Missions were Milwaukee's Double-A affiliate in 1972.

The Brewers already have PDCs with Double-A Biloxi and Class A Wisconsin, and they own the Class A Advanced Carolina affiliate. Rookie-level Helena is also owned by the Elmore Sports Group, and it is moving to Colorado Springs for 2019 and will remain affiliated with the Brewers, according to Stearns. Travel will be trying in the Pioneer League, but the facility will be first class for rookie ball.

"Player development is very important for us, and all of this goes into the big pie that is player development," Stearns said. "It starts with good, talented players and quality athletes. You add on top of that quality instructors and then you add on to that quality facilities, and the goal is to put together a solid and comprehensive player development apparatus. Really, top to bottom right now, we're pretty pleased with our affiliate structure."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Biloxi sweeps 2018 Southern League awards

Brewers ready for roster expansion this weekend in Washington
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- It was a clean sweep of the Southern League's major awards for the Brewers' Double-A Biloxi affiliate.

Former first-round Draft pick Corey Ray was named the league's Most Valuable Player, right-hander Zack Brown was named the league's most outstanding pitcher and Mike Guerrero was named manager of the year on Wednesday. Ray is MLB Pipeline's No. 2 Brewers prospect, and Brown is No. 8.

View Full Game Coverage

CINCINNATI -- It was a clean sweep of the Southern League's major awards for the Brewers' Double-A Biloxi affiliate.

Former first-round Draft pick Corey Ray was named the league's Most Valuable Player, right-hander Zack Brown was named the league's most outstanding pitcher and Mike Guerrero was named manager of the year on Wednesday. Ray is MLB Pipeline's No. 2 Brewers prospect, and Brown is No. 8.

View Full Game Coverage

• Brewers' Top 30 prospects

"Sweeping the awards is a great honor that extends not only to the three individuals, but to the whole Biloxi team and coaching staff," said Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan, who was en route back to Milwaukee on Wednesday after a few days with the Biloxi club. "Corey and Zack had fantastic years, to be sure. But they would be the first to heap praise on their teammates and the staff for helping them to earn their awards."

It's not unprecedented; the Jackson Generals swept the same trio of awards two years ago. But it does bode well for Ray, the Brewers organization's first Southern League MVP since Hunter Morris in 2012, and Brown, the organization's first Southern League pitcher of the year since Jorge Lopez in 2015.

Entering Wednesday, Ray, the fifth overall pick in the 2016 Draft, leads the Southern League with 27 home runs, 32 doubles, 35 stolen bases and was second with 73 RBIs and 83 runs scored. His .807 OPS is 128 points higher than last season and Class A Advanced Carolina, when Ray was coming back from a knee injury.

"I think a fully healthy Corey Ray has shown he can do some pretty big things," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I'm excited about it. You see the year he's had and how it stacks up against a lot of other Minor Leaguers, and he's in pretty rare air with doing some things that very few guys are doing."

Ray smashes 26th home run

Brown won the league's pitching honor despite missing a month with a sprained left ankle. He leads the league with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, and has 113 strikeouts in 119 2/3 innings. The Shuckers are 18-2 when he starts.

"Zack is a well-blended package of the physical and mental side of pitching," Biloxi pitching coach Dave Chavarria said. "Physically, he can throw anything at you and make quick adjustments. Mentally, he's not afraid to make mistakes and learn from them. He's a great teammate, eager to get better every day that he's out there, and just loves to compete."

Brown's 6th K

Under Guerrero, the Shuckers need to win one of their final five games to set a club record for regular season victories. They have already clinched a postseason berth, and will host the first two games of their best-of-five South Division Championship Series next Wednesday and Thursday.

Callups coming into focus
The Brewers will set a plan for September callups on Thursday, Counsell said, giving the players involved a chance to get to Washington to join the Brewers. They will come in waves; a handful on Saturday when rosters expand, at least one more Sunday when Zach Davies and Corey Knebel are eligible to return from optional assignments to the Minors, and potentially more later next week, though Counsell said Major League needs would supersede Triple-A Colorado Springs' potential playoff appearance.

"It'll be kind of need-based a little bit as far as we go there," Counsell said.

• Who's in line for callup to Milwaukee?

Among the players hopeful of a promotion is the only other catcher on Milwaukee's 40-man roster, Jacob Nottingham. The Brewers' No. 9 prospect has arrived in Colorado Springs after rehabbing a fractured wrist in Phoenix, and he's on track to be active for the SkySox at some point this weekend. That would position him to be in one of the secondary waves of callups.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Prospect Gatewood out for year with ACL tear

First baseman ranks No. 14 in Brewers' system in latest Pipeline update; Soria joins team
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jake Gatewood, the Brewers' No. 14 prospect in MLB Pipeline's updated rankings unveiled this week, has a torn ACL in his left knee and will undergo season-ending surgery.

Gatewood was injured running to first base in Double-A Biloxi's game at Jackson on Tuesday night. He traveled to Milwaukee for an MRI scan and a visit with Brewers head physician Dr. William Raasch, who made the diagnosis. He's the second premium Brewers prospect to go down with a torn ACL, joining infielder and No. 11 prospect Mauricio Dubon.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Jake Gatewood, the Brewers' No. 14 prospect in MLB Pipeline's updated rankings unveiled this week, has a torn ACL in his left knee and will undergo season-ending surgery.

Gatewood was injured running to first base in Double-A Biloxi's game at Jackson on Tuesday night. He traveled to Milwaukee for an MRI scan and a visit with Brewers head physician Dr. William Raasch, who made the diagnosis. He's the second premium Brewers prospect to go down with a torn ACL, joining infielder and No. 11 prospect Mauricio Dubon.

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After undergoing some "prehab" at the Brewers' training facility in Phoenix, Gatewood will undergo surgery in the next week or two. The Brewers hope he is close to baseball activity by the start of Spring Training, but will know more after the surgery, according to farm director Tom Flanagan.

Gatewood was a rising prospect in the MLB Pipeline rankings on the strength of his career-high 19 home runs, one behind teammate Corey Ray for the Southern League lead as of Friday afternoon.

The biggest jump in the rankings went to Biloxi teammate Zack Brown, who also went down with an injury this week. Brown sprained his left ankle trying to avoid a comebacker on Sunday and is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks, putting him in danger of missing the rest of the Double-A season. Brown is 9-0 with a 2.34 ERA in 111 2/3 innings this season.

Infielder Keston Hiura remained No. 1 on the Brewers' list, followed by right-handers Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta, both of whom are currently in the Major Leagues and moving toward graduating from prospect rankings.

Shortstop Brice Turang, the Brewers' top pick in this year's Draft, entered the list at No. 5. Other 2018 Draft picks who made the cut were outfielder Joe Gray Jr. (No. 9), left-hander Aaron Ashby (No. 23) and outfielder Micah Bello (No. 25).

Soria joins the fray
Veteran right-hander Joakim Soria, acquired Thursday in a trade with the White Sox, reported for duty on Friday and said he was open to whatever role the Brewers have in store, just as manager Craig Counsell suggested he may be more flexible with how he deploys closer Corey Knebel.

Knebel has fallen short this season of the high standard he set as an All-Star in 2017, struggling at times to command his curveball. The results are reflected in his ERA (1.78 last year/4.08 through Thursday), FIP (2.53/4.28) and strikeout rate (40.8 percent/33.1 percent).

"I'd like to get Corey out on the mound more, and if we're going to pitch him more, it's not just going to be in closing situations," Counsell said. "We need Corey to pitch well, whatever inning that is. … One of the ways to get Corey going a little bit is to be sure we get him out on the mound and not have a lot of space between his appearances."

Video: Joakim Soria discusses being traded to the Brewers

This is the third time since 2014 that Soria has been traded in July to a team with hopes of contending. He got a look at the Brewers at Guaranteed Rate Field in early June, when the White Sox won two of three from the Brewers.

Asked about leaving a closer role in Chicago for an uncertain role with Milwaukee, Soria said, "I want to win. I came to the Brewers organization to help them in any way possible to win a championship, whatever inning it is."

The Brewers optioned reliever Jacob Barnes to Triple-A Colorado Springs to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for Soria.

Last call
• The Brewers delayed activating another reliever, Matt Albers, from the 10-day disabled list on Friday, but he remains healthy and ready to go. Counsell cited other roster considerations -- probably a reference to outfielder Lorenzo Cain's bumps and bruises suffered in Thursday's series-opening win, when Cain jammed his right wrist sliding into second base and tweaked his left knee on a swing.

The Brewers opted to leave Cain out of the lineup Friday. Keon Broxton, who has options and was a candidate to be sent down when Albers returns from the DL, started in Cain's place.

"Wrist is good. Knee is good. I'm just not playing," Cain said before adding playfully, "I told them I could play and I'm not playing. They do that a lot. They don't listen to me anymore, so I don't fight them anymore."

• After getting good news from an MRI scan of his tight lower back a day earlier, the Brewers announced Friday that right-hander Zach Davies was ready to resume a Minor League rehab appearance. Davies pitched for Class A Wisconsin at Peoria, Ill., retiring all seven batters he faced on 30 pitches, 21 strikes. He struck out four.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

7 contenders with prospects to make a big deal

MLB.com

At this time of year, when buyers are competing to bolster their rosters for the stretch run and sellers are looking to next season and beyond, arguably nothing is more important than the prospects contenders have -- and are willing -- to trade.

While much attention is paid to the top name or two in each team's farm system, depth matters too.

At this time of year, when buyers are competing to bolster their rosters for the stretch run and sellers are looking to next season and beyond, arguably nothing is more important than the prospects contenders have -- and are willing -- to trade.

While much attention is paid to the top name or two in each team's farm system, depth matters too.

Catch up on the Latest Trade Talk

Just look at the Dodgers, who were able to acquire Manny Machado from the Orioles without giving up their top two prospects, outfielder Alex Verdugo (No. 29 overall, per MLB Pipeline) and catcher Keibert Ruiz (No. 38 overall). They also held onto right-hander Dustin May (No. 83 overall), whom Baltimore reportedly coveted.

And yet, Los Angeles' five-player package, which was headlined by outfielder Yusniel Diaz, was enough to get a deal done. Diaz was the Dodgers' No. 4 prospect at the time of the trade, and he now tops the O's system while ranking 57th overall.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

So which clubs are in the best position to make a trade like that between now and Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline? Here are seven teams with the prospects to swing a summer blockbuster, ordered based on the number of prospects they have on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list.

Note: Prospect Points are determined by assigning a numerical value to each spot in the Top 100, giving 100 points to No. 1, 99 points to No. 2, and so on. A team's total is calculated by adding the values assigned to each of its Top 100 prospects.

1. Braves
Top 100 prospects (8): Right-hander Mike Soroka (No. 15 overall, per MLB Pipeline), right-hander Kyle Wright (No. 25), right-hander Ian Anderson (No. 40), third baseman Austin Riley (No. 44), catcher Cristian Pache (No. 58), left-hander Luiz Gohara (No. 63), right-hander Touki Toussaint (No. 78), left-hander Kolby Allard (No. 93)
Prospect Points ranking: 3rd
The Braves' system is stacked, as the club has four more prospects in the Top 100 than any other team on this list. With Atlanta in rebuilding mode over the past several years, the club hasn't made a major Trade Deadline acquisition since Michael Bourn in 2011, and that was under a different regime. Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos was at the helm in Toronto when the Blue Jays picked up David Price from the Tigers for Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris and Jairo Labourt in July '15, but Anthopoulos has expressed his reluctance to trade young assets for a rental player this time around. If the Braves do deal from their wealth of Top 100 prospects, it will likely be for controllable talent. They are believed to be in the market for relief help and have also been linked to Toronto starter Marcus Stroman, who is under team control through '20.

2. Yankees
Top 100 prospects (4): Left-hander Justus Sheffield (No. 28 overall), outfielder Estevan Florial (No. 47), right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga (No. 77), right-hander Albert Abreu (No. 79)
Prospect Points ranking: 12th
The Yankees' farm system remains among the best in the game without even taking into account Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, who have both lost their prospect status. The club's system has also been heralded for its depth, even beyond the players in the Top 100. Though the Yankees made a bid for Machado and have discussed Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets, general manager Brian Cashman seemingly has been hesitant to raid the farm for a big-name player. New York has already acquired Zach Britton and J.A. Happ without moving any Top 100 prospects, and there's a chance it won't make any other major moves, even with Aaron Judge sustaining a chip fracture in his right wrist on Thursday and the Yankees sitting 4 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the American League East entering Friday.

Video: Yankees acquire J.A. Happ

3. Dodgers
Top 100 prospects (4): Verdugo, Ruiz, catcher/third baseman Will Smith (No. 74 overall), May
Prospect Points ranking: 11th
Yep, even after acquiring Yu Darvish last July and Machado on July 18, the Dodgers still possess an impressive collection of youngsters in the Minors. But it remains to be seen if president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi are looking to make another big transaction. On one hand, the Dodgers' World Series window is open now, and adding a big-name pitcher such as deGrom or Chris Archer could be the move that brings home a title. Furthermore, it would give the club an insurance policy if Clayton Kershaw decides to opt out of his contract in the offseason. On the other hand, the Dodgers have an incredibly deep roster, six healthy starters and a bullpen that could get Josh Fields and Tony Cingrani back from the disabled list soon.

4. Phillies
Top 100 prospects (3): Right-hander Sixto Sanchez (No. 17 overall), third baseman Alec Bohm (No. 46), right-hander Adonis Medina (No. 73)
Prospect Points ranking: 14th
Another surprise contender in the National League East, the Phillies have been consistently featured in Trade Talk throughout July, and their reported willingness to part with right-hander Medina made them a finalist for Machado. But after falling short in their pursuit of Machado, Philadelphia has turned its attention to lower-cost players. Meanwhile, the club has remained steadfast in its refusal to deal the crown jewel of its farm system, Sanchez, who has recorded a 2.51 ERA in Class A Advanced this season. Still, even if Sanchez remains off the table, the Phils have the pieces to make a Trade Deadline splash should the club's front office decide it is one big acquisition away from emerging as the favorite in a wide-open NL.

5. Brewers
Top 100 prospects (3): Second baseman Keston Hiura (No. 27 overall), right-hander Corbin Burnes (No. 53), right-hander Freddy Peralta (No. 82)
Prospect Points ranking: 17th
Milwaukee was a Trade Deadline seller in general manager David Stearns' first season in charge, sending Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rangers and Will Smith to the Giants in 2016, and Stearns held off on making a notable deal last July despite being in contention for the postseason. It's been a different story this year, with the Brewers landing reliever Joakim Soria and third baseman Mike Moustakas, though the highest-ranked prospect they moved in those transactions was outfielder Brett Phillips, who was 10th on Milwaukee's list before being sent to Kansas City for Moose. That leaves Stearns with a strong system to trade from as he looks to address the rotation, which remains the club's biggest area of need. Peralta has already made a significant impact in the Majors, posting a 3.74 ERA with an 11.8 K/9 rate in eight starts, so it's unlikely the Brewers would move him for another starter. Meanwhile, the belief around baseball, according to The Athletic (subscription required), is that Milwaukee won't trade Hiura, who has recorded an .868 OPS in the Minors this season. But Burnes could be in play as the headliner in a blockbuster deal.

Video: Joel Sherman on possible Trade Deadline stories

6. Astros
Top 100 prospects (3): Right-hander Forrest Whitley (No. 7 overall), outfielder Kyle Tucker (No. 8), outfielder Yordan Alvarez (No. 42)
Prospect Points ranking: 6th
After winning the 2017 World Series championship with former highly rated prospects such as Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman and Lance McCullers Jr. playing key roles and trading for Gerrit Cole in the offseason, the Astros still have a good deal of promising youngsters on the farm. But Houston's MLB roster is so talented that the club likely won't need to move any of its top prospects for a substantial upgrade. Of course, if Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow does want to bring in, say, the Reds' Raisel Iglesias or the Marlins' J.T. Realmuto, he likely could make it happen by dangling Whitley, Tucker and/or Alvarez.

7. A's
Top 100 prospects (3): Left-hander Jesus Luzardo (No. 12 overall), left-hander A.J. Puk (No. 39), catcher Sean Murphy (No. 54)
Prospect Points ranking: 10th
Although the A's financial restrictions are well documented, executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane hasn't been averse to dipping into the farm system to make a trade when the club has been in contention in the past. In July 2014, Beane sent top prospect Addison Russell along with youngsters Billy McKinney and Dan Straily to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The A's supplemented their system by trading Sonny Gray to the Yankees and Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nationals last summer, adding Luzardo, Jorge Mateo (Oakland's No. 7 prospect), James Kaprielian (No. 9), Sheldon Neuse (No. 10) and Dustin Fowler in those deals. Luzardo may be off the table, but Beane still has plenty to work with here.

Thomas Harrigan is an editor for MLB.com.

Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros

Burnes quickly ascends to key role for Brewers

Aguilar out Sunday due to cramps; Guerra, Peralta to return vs. Nats
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Corbin Burnes' rise from the 2016 Draft to high leverage Brewers reliever two years later was fast. But that's only part of the story.

Burnes didn't even pitch full-time until 2013, his senior year at Centennial High School in Bakersfield, Calif. He was a self-described slow-footed, slap-hitting middle infielder before that, and since he had no ambition of playing professional baseball at the time, he essentially answered, "Why not?" when it was suggested he move to the mound.

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MILWAUKEE -- Corbin Burnes' rise from the 2016 Draft to high leverage Brewers reliever two years later was fast. But that's only part of the story.

Burnes didn't even pitch full-time until 2013, his senior year at Centennial High School in Bakersfield, Calif. He was a self-described slow-footed, slap-hitting middle infielder before that, and since he had no ambition of playing professional baseball at the time, he essentially answered, "Why not?" when it was suggested he move to the mound.

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He threw a fastball, curveball and changeup in high school, topping out at 87-88 mph. Burnes added a cutter once he got to St. Mary's College, where head coach Eric Valenzuela helped morph the pitch into the lengthy, nasty slider Burnes is known for today. His ERA fell and his strikeout rate rose in each of his three collegiate seasons.

Along the way, Burnes grew four inches and filled his frame. The Brewers made him their fourth-round Draft pick.

"I was still learning all through college," Burnes said.

He proved a quick learner. Burnes, the Brewers' top pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline, shot through Milwaukee's Minor League system in two calendar years, earning 2017 Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors with the third-best ERA (1.67) of qualified pitchers throughout Minor League baseball. When the organization shifted Burnes to the bullpen this season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, manager Rick Sweet and pitching coach Fred Dabney presented it on June 14 as "good news," Burnes said. It meant a quicker path to the Major Leagues.

"I'm just making the most of every opportunity," Burnes said. "I'm all for it."

There was no breaking-in period. Burnes' big league debut came July 10 in Miami, when Burnes inherited a two-run lead in the eighth inning and, after airing his very first pitch to the backstop, settled in to retire all six batters he faced for a two-inning save. On July 14, he pitched two scoreless innings in Pittsburgh with the Brewers down a run.

Video: MIL@MIA: Burnes goes 2 scoreless in debut to get save

And on Saturday against the Dodgers, Burnes inherited a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the fifth inning of a game the Brewers trailed, 2-1. Burnes escaped without allowing a run, then pitched a scoreless sixth and was rewarded with his first Major League victory when the Brewers rallied to beat Clayton Kershaw.

"It's been based on need a little bit," said Counsell. "And he's handled every situation wonderfully. He's going to give up runs here, but there's a reason he's a very highly thought of player, and a reason he shot through the Minor Leagues. That's part of the reason we're using him in these situations. It's been a shot in the arm for our bullpen."

Like they said about Josh Hader last year, Brewers officials say they view Burnes as a starting pitcher long-term. But unlike Hader, who works primarily with two pitches and was so dominant in relief that he stuck, it sounds as if the club means it about Burnes.

"Corbin will be a starter next year. For sure. One hundred percent," Counsell said. "There is no debate on that one."

For now, Burnes will continue to contribute out of the bullpen.

"It's awesome to get the trust of Counsell and the staff to get put in the situations I've been in," Burnes said. "I'm going to keep trying to make the most of it."

Last call
• The Brewers held Jesus Aguilar out of Sunday's series finale against the Dodgers after he reported tightness in his hamstrings on Saturday night. Aguilar, who entered the day as the National League's co-leader with 25 home runs, didn't get much of an All-Star break because he participated in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby before getting two at-bats for the National League in the game itself.

Junior Guerra is expected to be ready to come off the disabled list (right forearm strain) to start Tuesday's game against the Nationals at Miller Park. The Brewers plan to recall Freddy Peralta from a brief assignment to Class A Wisconsin to start Wednesday's series finale.

• Another starter on the 10-day disabled list, Zach Davies, is scheduled to test his injured back by throwing live batting practice on Monday. The next step would be a Minor League rehab assignment. One of Monday's hitters will be first baseman/outfielder Eric Thames, who has a chance to return from the 10-day DL (hamstring) when he's eligible on Tuesday.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Corbin Burnes

Crew can deal from rich system to fill gaps

Brewers have top prospects to swap to address lackluster offensive production from infield
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- The best first half in Brewers history ended with six straight losses, and it doesn't get easier after the All-Star break.

The Brewers return to action Friday at Miller Park against the Dodgers and Manny Machado, who will make his L.A. debut against a Milwaukee team that reportedly finished as runner-up in trade talks with the Orioles. Next on the homestand are the Nationals, followed by an eight-game West Coast trip against the Giants and Dodgers. That carries the Brewers past the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline and into an August schedule that includes a critical three-city trip with games against the NL East-leading Braves, NL Central-leading Cubs and then the Cardinals.

MILWAUKEE -- The best first half in Brewers history ended with six straight losses, and it doesn't get easier after the All-Star break.

The Brewers return to action Friday at Miller Park against the Dodgers and Manny Machado, who will make his L.A. debut against a Milwaukee team that reportedly finished as runner-up in trade talks with the Orioles. Next on the homestand are the Nationals, followed by an eight-game West Coast trip against the Giants and Dodgers. That carries the Brewers past the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline and into an August schedule that includes a critical three-city trip with games against the NL East-leading Braves, NL Central-leading Cubs and then the Cardinals.

"We have to find a way to get it done in the field," said Lorenzo Cain. "We open with the Dodgers and play them a few times. The schedule definitely doesn't get any easier. We have to find a way to pull together and compete."

Reinforcements could help, and with Machado off the board, Brewers GM David Stearns will have to look elsewhere. The injury-battered Brewers finished the first half with outfielder Ryan Braun, first baseman Eric Thames, catcher Manny Pina, infielder Jonathan Villar, reliever Matt Albers and starter Zach Davies on the 10-day disabled list -- plus ace right-hander Jimmy Nelson still on the 60-day DL and facing an uncertain timeline coming back from shoulder surgery. Pina is expected back Friday.

Here's a look at where the Brewers stand with the Trade Deadline looming:

Current status: Buyer
The Brewers' aggressive pursuit of Machado, a free agent at season's end, cemented that club officials believe they have a postseason contender. Even after losing seven of eight games on a brutal road trip to close the first half, the Brewers set a franchise record for victories before the All-Star break (55) and tied the Cubs for the most victories in the NL. That, despite a long list of personnel losses that extended to poor performances from players like shortstop Orlando Arcia and right fielder Domingo Santana who were expected to contribute. Both players are beginning the second half at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Video: Craig Counsell on Orlando Arcia being sent down

What they are seeking
Statistically, it appears the Brewers' chief need is offense. They finished the first half seventh in the Major Leagues with a 3.65 ERA -- and yes, that was fueled by a fantastic bullpen, but Milwaukee's starters ranked a respectable 10th of 30 teams at 3.87, one spot ahead of the starter-rich Cubs. Meanwhile, Milwaukee's hitters were 17th at 4.35 runs per game, with particular need at shortstop (tied for last in MLB at 48 wRC+) and second base (27th, 69 wRC+). Thus, the interest in Machado.

What they have to offer
The Brewers have a rich farm system, even after sending four premium prospects including then-top prospect Lewis Brinson to the Marlins in January for Christian Yelich. It starts with hitting phenom Keston Hiura, No. 1 on MLB Pipeline's Brewers Top 30 Prospects list and No. 30 on MLB Pipeline's overall Top 100 list. He would be tough to trade, but he's not off-limits in the way players like Prince Fielder and Braun were in years past. The Brewers would prefer to deal from two areas of relative strength: Pitching and outfielders. Their Nos. 2 and 4 prospects are pitchers -- Corbin Burnes and Luis Ortiz -- and there's also No. 9 Freddy Peralta. Burnes and Peralta are in the Major Leagues currently, and particularly prized. If the Brewers find a trade partner in need of outfielders, there's a match to be had. Santana, Brett Phillips, Corey Ray, Trent Grisham and quick-rising Tristen Lutz are all age 25 or younger.

Video: MIL@MIA: Burnes goes 2 scoreless in debut to get save

Possible scenario
MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported the Brewers have been in touch with the Twins about pending free-agent infielders Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier, neither of whom is the caliber of All-Star starter Machado, but would nonetheless represent an upgrade. Escobar has the versatility the Brewers like, including experience at shortstop, and an .834 OPS this season. The Twins' top center-field prospect, per MLB Pipeline, is 10th-ranked Akil Baddoo; the two outfielders above him on Minnesota's list, including All-Star Futures Game participant Alex Kirilloff, profile to the corners or first base. Grisham, the Brewers' No. 7 prospect, is having a tough year at Double-A Biloxi but remains a well-regarded prospect.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Brewers' top prospect on the fun of trade rumors

Futures Game participant Hiura says Minor Leaguers joke around to handle the uncertainty
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- For every Manny Machado or Noah Syndergaard rumor, there's a Keston Hiura on the other side, a top prospect waiting to see what the looming non-waiver Trade Deadline sends rippling through the Minor Leagues. In a Double-A Biloxi clubhouse teeming with top prospects, players have made it a running joke.

Someone gets pulled from a game?

WASHINGTON -- For every Manny Machado or Noah Syndergaard rumor, there's a Keston Hiura on the other side, a top prospect waiting to see what the looming non-waiver Trade Deadline sends rippling through the Minor Leagues. In a Double-A Biloxi clubhouse teeming with top prospects, players have made it a running joke.

Someone gets pulled from a game?

He's getting traded.

Manager Mike Guerrero steps foot in the clubhouse?

Someone's about to be gone.

:: 2018 Futures Game coverage ::

"It's just all fun and games," said Hiura, Milwaukee's top prospect per MLB Pipeline (No. 30 in MLB Pipeline's Top 100), and thus, the subject of some of those rumors. "I think that's how people cope with it and relax a little."

Hiura was relaxed on Sunday, though he struck out in both of his at-bats as the designated hitter for the U.S. team in a 10-6 win over the World squad in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park. It was a who's who of baseball's future, stocked with players who can relate to Hiura's familiarity with trade rumors.

While his name has not been mentioned much in the Machado derby -- Machado, the Orioles shortstop, is a free agent at season's end, and the Brewers almost certainly wouldn't part with a player of Hiura's caliber for a rental -- he has surfaced in discussions about potential trade pieces with more club control. Think Jacob deGrom or Syndergaard, if the Mets opt to trade one of their top arms, and the Brewers opt to go big to fortify their starting pitching.

The other Brewers prospect in the Futures Game, right-hander Luis Ortiz (Brewers' No. 4 prospect), has reportedly been part of the Machado talks. But the Orioles are believed to want Major League pitching in the deal, and Ortiz has been pitching for Biloxi.

Video: WLD@USA: Ortiz gets Diaz to ground out to end 9th

"There's a lot of talk," said Hiura. "With all the trade talk, we've been joking around with each other that someone's going to be gone soon. But it's been fairly easy for me to focus. Whatever happens behind the scenes, I can't control that.

"Family-wise, my dad always freaks out a little when he gets a text from me. He's like, 'Did you get traded or something?' So there's a lot of talk, but I've been able to handle it pretty well."

Hiura has handled everything pretty well since the Brewers made him the ninth overall pick in the 2017 Draft. Hiura, a hitting prodigy out of UC Irvine, was mostly limited to DH duty last year and at the start of this season over concerns about his right elbow, but he has avoided surgery and has played 43 games at second base between advanced Class A Carolina and Biloxi while slashing a robust .308/.370/.498.

Recently, Hiura missed about a week with a sprained thumb after tangling with a first baseman, but he reported for Futures Game duty at 100 percent, he said.

"I've never seen anybody hit like him," said Ortiz. "There's only one guy probably -- [Atlanta Braves All-Star] Ozzie Albies. I faced him in 2016 and he's by far one of the best hitters I've seen, and Keston reminds me of him. He's short to the ball and he just doesn't miss."

Ryan Braun (2006) and Corey Ray (2017) are the only other players to participate in the Futures Game the year after being drafted by the Brewers. Hiura's path so far is most similar to Braun's, who made it to Double-A midway through his first full professional season.

"It's been a quick 13-14 months. There's been a lot to it," Hiura said. "Playing at four different levels in that time, getting adjusted to the professional baseball lifestyle. It's been interesting. I've learned a lot about myself in the last year.

"I always felt I was ready to compete with the best around. Being able to move up quickly in the system is definitely something I wanted to work toward. I was always up to the challenge."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Keston Hiura