CHICAGO -- Sunday’s introductions were nothing new for Brewers callup David Freitas. The 30-year-old catcher has played for seven organizations over 10 professional seasons and is in the big leagues with his third different team.
“Last year, playing behind [Mariners catcher Mike] Zunino, I had to learn how to be ready to play every 4-5 days,” Freitas said. “Being in there every day, you definitely get a better rhythm and timing of pitchers and a better feel for the everyday grind. Obviously, the more I’m in there, the better I’ll feel. That’s me personally. That’s definitely something that works for me.”
Here’s a look at some of the others who joined the fray Sunday.
Arrival: Tyler Austin
Of the six players in this first wave of callups, Austin is the newest to the Brewers. He has played in the big leagues for the Yankees, Twins and Giants, spending time with the latter two teams this season, and came to Milwaukee via a Minor League deal after being designated for assignment by San Francisco in August.
Austin’s calling card is his bat. A right-handed hitter, he belted 17 homers for the Yankees and Twins in 2018 and has a career .841 OPS in the Minor Leagues.
“I never thought it was going to be like that,” said Austin of his many travels. “But it’s part of the game. I’m excited to be here.”
Breakout: David Freitas
Acquired by the Brewers in a mid-April trade with the Mariners, Freitas led all of Minor League baseball with a .381 batting average and a .461 on-base percentage. Like Austin, he’s a right-handed hitter.
“When I went to [Triple-A] San Antonio, I told [Missions manager] Rick Sweet, ‘Sweet, as long as I’m in the lineup, I’m happy,’” Freitas said. “And he kind of stuck to it, which I really appreciate. He found ways to put me in the lineup every day. Playing every day is a lot more fun than not. So I wouldn’t say it clicked, I got a lot more opportunity this year.”
Something to prove: Jimmy Nelson
This is Nelson’s second stint in the Majors this season following a long road back from major shoulder surgery in late 2017. The first stay did not go well, as Nelson pitched first as a starter and then moved to relief, where he pitched to an 8.36 ERA with 14 walks compared to 15 strikeouts in 15 innings. But his recent results in San Antonio were promising, as Nelson posted a 3.38 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings in August.
Along the way, he became a fully functional member of the bullpen, pitching back-to-backs, multi-inning stints, mid-inning entries and a number of other circumstances required of relievers. His velocity continued to improve as well.
Asked how he felt physically, Nelson said, “I don’t want to talk about it too much. I just want to get out there and prove it. I’m tired of talking about the physical side of it. I got back to what I felt like was me, physically and mentally. I started to figure out my command and an aggressive mindset. This second time through [Triple-A], it was night and day. It was like I was a different person.”
With so many arms available, the Brewers won’t have to overuse Nelson, but they can be a bit more aggressive with him than Suter, who needs rest between outings as he comes back from Tommy John surgery.
Name to watch: Trey Supak
Even if he’s not in the next wave of callups, which is expected after the Triple-A season comes to an end, Supak did a lot to raise his stock this season. He began at Double-A Biloxi and was good enough in 20 starts to win Southern League Pitcher of the Year honors for going 11-4 with a 2.42 ERA. Supak found Triple-A hitters much more of a challenge; as of Sunday morning, he had a 9.30 ERA in seven starts in the Pacific Coast League. Supak should begin to figure in the Brewers’ big league plans at some point next season.