Wiemer fills up the box score in the desert

October 17th, 2021

Scottsdale, Ariz. -- Since taking him in the fourth round of the 2020 Draft, the Brewers have decided to let Joey Wiemer be Joey Wiemer. With some slight modifications. Every bit of that profile was on display Saturday night.

Milwaukee’s No. 23 prospect went 2-for-3 with a homer, three RBIs, three runs scored, a walk, a hit-by-pitch and an outfield assist to help Salt River beat Mesa, 15-7, in a game that lasted 7 1/2 innings at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

It was the type of kinetic, high-energy, hard-hitting, hard-running, hard-throwing performance the Brewers have almost come to expect from the Cincinnati product in his first full season.

“I think they’ve caught on that I’m really unorthodox,” Wiemer said. “It’s just part of my game.”

The right-handed slugger set the tone for Saturday’s laugher early on. Fellow Brewers prospect Mario Feliciano opened the scoring with an RBI double to right-center, and two batters later, Wiemer showed even more pop with a two-run homer the opposite way to right to give the Rafters a 3-0 lead. Coming on a 1-0, 89.8 mph fastball from Mesa right-hander Michael Dominguez, the ball had an exit velocity of 108 mph and traveled 386 feet. It is the hardest-hit home run measured by Statcast so far this fall at Salt River.

“Honestly, I thought I was late to that ball,” Wiemer said. “Somehow, I was still able to get a barrel to it. I’ll take those.”

The fact that Wiemer was able to generate that level of power the opposite way speaks to how far he’s come in that category already in the pro game. The 6-foot-5 outfielder never hit more than six homers in a collegiate season and left Cincinnati with only 12 dingers over his three years on campus, despite showing good raw pop and a kinetic swing that can look like a tornado when he lets it go (for good and bad).

Upon entering the pro game, the Brewers wanted him to keep that same energy in his at-bats while trying to get him to elevate the ball a little more. The result was 27 homers this past season, 14 of which came in 34 games after a promotion to High-A Wisconsin. His slugging percentage with the Timber Rattlers was an astounding .719.

“It was just some swing adjustments,” he said. “Getting deep into my back leg. Less head movement. Let my hands go to work.”

Wiemer showed off arguably his loudest tool one inning later in the field. The Salt River right fielder, who threw in the upper-90s as a college closer, nailed Ramon Rodriguez trying to go first to third on a Kameron Misner single in the third frame. The metrics on that seed showed it came in at 88.6 mph, all the more impressive given that it came with no crow hop and Wiemer’s momentum taking him to his left.

The Brewers' budding talent rounded out his nightly display of tools on the basepaths. He was hit by a pitch in the fourth and proceeded to move first to third on a successful hit and run before scoring on an aggressive send during a wild pitch. Later in the same frame, he legged out an infield hit, danced around enough at first to force a balk and came home on an RBI single by Ezequiel Tovar. Wiemer’s baserunning antics helped him score two of Salt River’s eight runs in the fourth inning alone.

It’s that ability to steal -- or even threaten to steal -- that helped Wiemer swipe 30 bags between Low-A and High-A this season, making him one of 16 20-20 players in the Minors.

The opponents may have changed. The setting might be different. The challenge might be heightened. But for a night in Arizona, Wiemer was able to be the electric Wiemer that has sent his stock skyrocketing in 2021.

“It’s keeping the same feel,” he said. “I’m not overthinking it. I went 0-for-4 the first day. It’s baseball. It’s going to happen. So just go out there and compete.”

The game was called early with both sides looking like they may run out of pitchers. Salt River and Mesa staffs combined for 22 walks in the contest, 11 apiece.

Rockies' No. 6 prospect Michael Toglia provided the Rafters’ other homer of the game with a two-run shot in the eight-run fourth. It was his second homer in as many games. No. 4 overall prospect Spencer Torkelson went 2-for-3 as the DH and No. 45 Brett Baty added a triple as part of a 1-for-3 showing. Both corner infielders are 7-for-14 (.500) to open the Fall League and lead the circuit in hits and average.