MILWAUKEE -- Minor League camp at American Family Fields of Phoenix is about to open for business.
Beginning Wednesday, after players undergo physicals and intake testing, the Brewers are staging what they’ve termed a “Build-Up Camp” for select prospects outside of the 40-man roster who are not subject to ongoing negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association toward a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The camp will offer more than 50 mostly young players, plus six more experienced starting pitchers, the opportunity to get a jump on 2022.
Milwaukee's top 2021 Draft pick, Sal Frelick, top pitching prospect Ethan Small and fellow Brewers prospects Hedbert Perez, Jeferson Quero, Tyler Black, Joe Gray Jr., Antoine Kelly, Freddy Zamora and Zavier Warren -- all in the top half of MLB Pipeline’s most recent list of Milwaukee’s top prospects -- are among the players scheduled to take part.
“I think we went with ‘Build-Up Camp’ with the intent being that while there's going to be some veteran players mixed in, the bulk of the players will be more first- and second-year players that maybe need to learn their bodies physically to know when they're ready to go, when they can work at 100 percent,” Brewers vice president of Minor League operations Tom Flanagan said. “We’re going to make sure they're prepared, try and limit injury and improve their performance.”
The roster includes 13 picks from last year’s Draft. Frelick, an outfielder drafted 15th overall, and Black, an infielder selected in Competitive Balance Round A, will be joined by pitchers Russell Smith (second round), Logan Henderson (fourth round), Brannon Jordan (ninth round), Caden Vire (12th round) and Ryne Moore (18th round); catcher Wes Clarke (10th round); infielders Ethan Murray (fifth round), Zack Raabe (eighth round) and Kaylan Nicasia (16th round); and outfielders Tristan Peters (seventh round) and Jace Avina (14th round).
Charlie Greene, the Brewers’ veteran field coordinator and catching instructor, is the point man on scheduling for each day. The agenda will include field work, with one-on-one instruction, and some classroom work, including players working on English as a second language.
“From a player-development perspective, it's been business as usual,” said Eduardo Brizuela, the Brewers’ vice president and special assistant to the GM/baseball operations. “I think we're even more active than we were a year ago, you know? It kind of feels like we're going back to 2019, where it was like normal baseball, a normal offseason. …
“We always talk about having a strong foundation. I think this is a great opportunity to do it. You're also going to be able to do a lot of fundamentals. It's ensuring that you have the time and the opportunity to work on something with all the tools that we have here at the complex to give them that feedback. I think that's super important.”
The full group of Brewers Minor League pitchers and catchers are not scheduled to report until March 5 for physicals and the first formal workout the next day. Position players follow on March 11 and 12.
The Brewers’ first Minor League Spring Training games are currently scheduled for March 19.
“When you think about that, it’s almost a full month of extra reps that this first wave will get,” Flanagan said.
“I think from the Minor League perspective, it's closer to normal than we've had in some time,” Flanagan said. “So, that's a positive, where guys can kind of know in advance when they're going to show, you know, what the spring is going to look like. And then hopefully roll right into the season.”