Brewers' rotation a credit to farm system
SAN FRANCISCO -- Wily Peralta's return from a two-month stint on the disabled list Tuesday gave the Brewers four homegrown players in the current -- albeit six-man -- starting rotation, a notable development considering the common perception that Milwaukee does a poor job developing pitchers.
Besides Peralta, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, the Brewers' current rotation includes Mike Fiers (22nd-round Draft pick in 2009), Jimmy Nelson (second round, 2010) and Taylor Jungmann (first round, 2011). Tyler Cravy (17th round, 2009) and Tyler Wagner (fourth round, 2012) also started games this season for Milwaukee and are back in the Minors.
The two other pitchers in the Brewers' rotation as of Tuesday were big-money free agents: Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza.
"I think it's significant moreso in [that] they're early in his careers," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of the homegrown quartet. "That's a positive sign moving forward. It's a credit to our player development, that you're able to get four starters from your own system.
"Pitching development, as we've seen throughout baseball, is very difficult. We see guys blossom at different times and become 'guys' at different times. But these guys are doing a good job and have had success in the big leagues."
The only club with as many born-and-bred pitchers in its current rotation is, fittingly, the Cardinals, who have been baseball's standard-bearers in recent years for pitching development. Their rotation includes three drafted players (Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez) and one international signee (Jaime Garcia). The exception is John Lackey, who was acquired in a trade. Injured Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright also was acquired via trade.
The Phillies are close. They are operating at the moment with a four-man rotation because of off-days in the schedule, and three of those pitchers are homegrown.
"Everybody wants the best of every world, like, 'Just produce six players a year from player development. That's 'all' we want.' But it's hard," said Counsell, who was intimately involved in Milwaukee's player development efforts in his previous role as a special assistant to the general manager. "It's hard to be critical of a system that once produced Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart at the same time. That's a lot of players, and those are four All-Stars. And Rickie Weeks -- five All-Stars.
"If there wasn't any pitching during that time and you produced five All-Star position players, I don't think there's a lot of room to complain there."
Why is it so much more difficult to develop pitchers compared to position players?
"I don't think anybody has the answer to that," Counsell said. "The first thing that comes to your mind is health. There's more attrition, pitching-wise, with health. More serious injuries that derail pitching. ... And then I think it's just a tough craft. It really is."