MILWAUKEE -- From National League MVP Award candidate Christian Yelich to pitching prospect Drew Rasmussen, 45 players either firmly in the Brewers’ plans for a shortened 2020 season or bidding for a spot in them will take part in summer camp at Miller Park starting this week.
Monday’s announcement represented the Brewers’ first step in setting their initial player pool for the 2020 regular season. As many as 15 more players will be announced at a later date, most all of whom will report to the club’s alternate facility in Appleton, Wis., to prepare for the possibility that they might be needed during a 60-game a regular season slated to open July 23-24.
• FAQ: Roster and transaction rules for 2020
For the players who scored invitations to Miller Park, summer camp begins this week with COVID-19 testing and physical exams. The team will host staggered workouts beginning Saturday.
• FAQ: All you need to know about 2020 season
Here are the players who will take part (those in italics are not on the 40-man roster):
Pitchers (23): Brett Anderson, Ray Black, Zack Brown, Corbin Burnes, Alex Claudio, Jake Faria, J.P. Feyereisen, Justin Grimm, Josh Hader, Adrian Houser, Corey Knebel, Eric Lauer, Josh Lindblom, Shelby Miller, Mike Morin, Freddy Peralta, David Phelps, Drew Rasmussen, Brent Suter, Bobby Wahl, Devin Williams, Brandon Woodruff, Eric Yardley
Manager Craig Counsell said last week that he anticipates carrying 16-17 pitchers on the initial 30-man active roster, which will shrink to 28 after two weeks and to 26 two weeks after that. That means the first month of a regular season could look like recent Septembers, in which Counsell has shown a knack for finding unexpected contributors. Keep an eye on Rasmussen, the hard-throwing right-hander who had been reassigned to Minor League camp before the shutdown in March. Now, he’s back.
The delayed start to the season was most beneficial for Knebel, who originally wasn’t expected to pitch until mid-May at the earliest following Tommy John surgery, and Lauer, who would have missed Opening Day because of a left shoulder impingement. If they can show in camp that they are ready, Knebel should be a weapon at the back end of the bullpen, while Lauer should compete for a spot in the starting rotation.
Catchers (4): David Freitas, Omar Narváez, Jacob Nottingham, Manny Piña
The Brewers acquired Narváez in a trade with the Mariners and planed to make him the primary catcher ahead of a capable backup in Piña. Narváez will have to play catch-up over the next three weeks in order to be comfortable handling an extended pitching staff by Opening Day.
Infielders (12): Orlando Arcia, Jedd Gyorko, Ryon Healy, Keston Hiura, Brock Holt, Mark Mathias, Logan Morrison, Jace Peterson, Ronny Rodríguez, Justin Smoak, Eric Sogard, Luis Urías.
The pandemic has dramatically changed the calculus for the Brewers in the infield. Urías might have opened the season on the injured list as he came back from surgery on a broken left hamate bone, but now he’s healthy and ready to compete for shortstop with Arcia. And across the diamond, non-roster invitee Morrison is no longer in a roster crunch thanks to the extra spots available and the implementation of the designated hitter in the NL. He flashed serious power in Spring Training, and the Brewers are eager to watch him swing the bat at a home ballpark that favors left-handed hitters.
Outfielders (6): Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton, Lorenzo Cain, Ben Gamel, Avisaíl García, Christian Yelich.
Yelich is moving to left field to open a spot for newcomer García, whose strong throwing arm makes him a prototypical fit for right field. Braun, entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, still figures to share some time in right with García and at first base with Smoak, but also can get at-bats via the DH. And speaking of rules changes, the implementation of a “runner at second” rule in extra innings might convince some clubs to carry a speed specialist, which would make Broxton more appealing.
The 40-man players not on the summer camp roster are pitchers Angel Perdomo and Trey Supak and outfielders Corey Ray and Tyrone Taylor. They could be assigned to the alternate training site, along with top Brewers prospect Brice Turang and perhaps a 2020 Draft pick or two, since Milwaukee plans to include some prospects in the pool who aren’t Major League ready in order to continue their development.
A couple of important factors to remember:
• The initial 60-man player pools are not the final word on which players will suit up for the Brewers this season. Rather, they represent the players eligible to participate at any one moment in time and will change in the weeks ahead as the result of trades, releases and injuries or illnesses. Each team's player pool cannot exceed 60 at any time.
• Only the players in a team’s player pool will be eligible to be traded, limiting the number of Minor League players who will be moved this summer. Players acquired via trade must be assigned to a team’s player pool.
“In the 40-plus conversations with players the last couple of days, everybody’s excited,” Counsell said. “I think everybody was at a point of exasperation and so everybody felt like they got the news they wanted, and now I think we’re all excited to get back to work.”
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.