Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Begin 2018 with Four Future Stars
As the 2018 minor league baseball seasons get underway, many around the game are taking notice of the impressive roster the Milwaukee Brewers have put together. With the additions of outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain to go along with established stars like closer Corey Knebel, OF Ryan Braun, and 2B Jonathan Villar, this is a team that USA Today rated as the eighth best team in baseball coming into the season.
What should keep Brewers fans drooling for years to come is that the talent is not exclusive to the Major League level. Bleacher Report ranks the Milwaukee organization as the seventh best minor league system, as there are blue chip prospects throughout the organization, including with the Mid-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
The Timber Rattlers Have A Great Duo
The Milwaukee Brewers have done an outstanding job in the draft the last five seasons, helping to catapult the team into a threat to win the Central Division. It has also given them some of the best prospects in the game, and four of those will take the field for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers this season.
Catchers KJ Harrison (16) and Payton Henry (28), pitcher Carlos Herrera (26) and outfielder Tristen Lutz (11) are rated as four of the top prospects in the Brewers system by Baseball America. Both fall within the top 25 and should find their stay in Wisconsin a short one.
KJ Harrison –Harrison was selected in the third round of the 2017 draft and spent just 48 games in Helena (Pioneer League) before moving to the Mid-A team. Harrison hit .308 with 10 homers and 33 RBI and is outstanding behind the plate as well. The Brewers system is loaded with great young catchers, which might impede the 20-year-old’s progress a little, but the Hawaiian native should easily be in AA by season’s end.
Payton Henry – Henry was a sixth round pick in 2016 and he’s got some pop in his bat. The catcher hit .256 in the Arizona league in 2016 but, last season, he moved to Helena where he hit .242 in 55 games with 7 homers and 33 RBI. Henry also scored 38 runs and added 17 doubles. The catcher threw out a solid 28 percent of would-be base stealers last year.
Carlos Herrera – Herrera was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Seattle Mariners. He spent one season in rookie ball before joining the Brewers in 2016. Last season, the right-hander split time between rookie ball Helena and Mid-A Wisconsin. He posted an overall record of 5-2 with a 3.97 ERA. In 59.0 innings, Herrera allowed only 40 hits while striking out 52.
Tristen Lutz – Lutz was a first round pick last year, and he performed exceptionally well in Helena. The outfielder started out in the Arizona rookie league before moving to the Montana team. In Arizona, he hit .279 in 16 games, but had a stand out month in Helena, hitting .333 in 24 games. Lutz blasted 6 homers, drove in 16, and scored 23 runs.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers begin the season with a two-game set at the Beloit Snappers. Bowden Francis will start for Wisconsin against Jean Ruiz. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35.
By Robert Pannier