MILWAUKEE -- Five years ago, Aaron Wilkerson was stocking frozen foods at a grocery store. On Wednesday, he was on his way to the Major Leagues.The Brewers are bringing up the 28-year-old right-hander, Wilkerson's agent, Burton Rocks, confirmed. The Brewers did not make any immediate announcement, but Wilkerson could help
MILWAUKEE -- Five years ago, Aaron Wilkerson was stocking frozen foods at a grocery store. On Wednesday, he was on his way to the Major Leagues.
The Brewers are bringing up the 28-year-old right-hander, Wilkerson's agent, Burton Rocks, confirmed. The Brewers did not make any immediate announcement, but Wilkerson could help as soon as Friday night, when the Brewers, who are down a starter since Jimmy Nelson's a season-ending shoulder injury, will be the road team at Miller Park for the opener of a series against the Marlins.
When Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell announced his pitching rotation for the series -- relocated to Milwaukee because Miami is recovering from Hurricane Irma -- he left Friday open, followed by Zach Davies on Saturday and Brandon Woodruff on Sunday.
"We're not trying to hide anything from anybody," Counsell said. "We're playing the game, seeing where it leaves us and that kind of determines the next day in some of these spots."
Wilkerson has taken a unique path. He underwent Tommy John surgery after pitching at Cumberland University and was out of baseball for two years. He needed a job along the way, so Wilkerson worked third shift at a grocery store in Waco, Texas, and liked the work. Eventually, he was offered a promotion to manage of the department.
He figured he was done with baseball.
"I could have very easily stayed where I was, stocking frozen food, and probably made decent money," Wilkerson said. "But I'm glad I took the road I took."
His road took him through the independent circuit in 2013, starting with the Fort Worth Cats, then the Florence Freedom and the Grand Prairie AirHogs. Wilkerson compiled a 2.96 ERA in 19 starts along the way and caught the eye of a scout from the Red Sox, who picked him up and employed him for parts of the next three Minor League seasons before Wilkerson was traded in July 2016 with infield prospect Wendell Rijo to the Brewers for veteran infielder Aaron Hill.
Wilkerson spent the entire 2017 regular season at Double-A Biloxi, going 11-4 with a 3.16 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, as well as a strikeout-to-walk ratio just shy of four to one. He was bumped to Triple-A Colorado Springs for the playoffs and tossed seven hitless innings in a SkySox win.
"Aaron's unique road to the Majors, having been undrafted out of college and stocking food in a freezer, has made him battle-tested for the Major Leagues," Rocks said.
• The Brewers scratched right fielder Domingo Santana from Wednesday's starting lineup against the Pirates with a tight right trapezius muscle. Hernan Perez started in Santana's place.
• Milwaukee rounded out its Arizona Fall League participants with pitchers Adrian Houser, Nate Griep, Jon Perrin and Quintin Torres-Costa. For Houser, it's an opportunity to compile innings, as the former Top 30 prospect continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery.
The Brewers had previously named four position players to the prospect-rich league: outfielders Monte Harrison and Corey Ray and infielders Lucas Erceg and Jake Gatewood.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.