June 2012

Brewers extend affiliation with rookie Helena

The Brewers haveannounced a two-year player development contract (PDC) extension with the rookie-level Helena Brewers of the Pioneer League. The deal now runs through the 2014 season.

“We are excited to extend our player development contract with the Helena franchise,” farm director Reid Nichols said in a statement. “The Helena front office, led by President/General Manager Paul Fetz, is professional and responsive, and the fans of Helena have given us great support.”

The Helena Brewers have been the Brewers’ advanced rookie affiliate since 2003. Helena was also a Milwaukee farm team from 1985 through 2000.

“We are thrilled to continue our working relationship with the Milwaukee Brewers,” Fetz said. “This has been a partnership that has lasted a very long time, and in our business that is a strong sign that you have a positive, respectful and mutually beneficial relationship. As our parent club, Milwaukee has always strived to send us their best ambassadors and we appreciate it.”

Current Brewers players such as Ryan Braun, Mike Fiers, Mat Gamel, Taylor Green and Jonathan Lucroy all began their professional baseball careers with the Helena Brewers. Helena won the Pioneer League title in 2010, the franchise’s first championship since 1996.

Helena’s 2012 season begins Monday against Great Falls Voyagers, the rookie affiliate of the White Sox.

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Brewers’ supplemental first-rounder to sign

Mitch Haniger, the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo outfielder selected by the Brewers with the 38th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft, tweeted this afternoon that he is set to sign with Milwaukee on Thursday, presumably after passing a physical exam.

A baseball source confirmed late Monday that the sides have a tentative agreement, and said Haniger would get a $1.2 million bonus. That’s below the baseball’s $1.359 million recommendation for the 38th overall selection.

The Brewers already signed their other two picks from Day 1 of the Draft, prep catcher Clint Coulter and college outfielder Victor Roache.

Haniger, 21, is a 6-foot-2, 215-pound center fielder. He was the runaway Big West Conference leader in home runs (13), RBIs (64), slugging percentage (.626) and total bases (132).

He hails from the same school that produced Brewers outfield prospect Logan Schafer, whom Haniger considers a friend.

“I had heard from my advisors that [the Brewers] were one of the teams real interested, but once Victor Roache got taken in the late first round, I thought there was less of a chance they were going to take me at 38,” Haniger said on Draft night. “But it’s awesome, it was a great feeling. Words can’t describe it.”

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Estrada closer to rejoining rotation

Right-hander Marco Estrada moved closer Sunday to a Minor League rehabilitation assignment, and the Brewers are planning to return him to the starting rotation, not the bullpen, when he’s ready.

Estrada, on the disabled list with a right quad strain, threw a bullpen session on Sunday morning and is slated for a simulated game early Tuesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. After another bullpen, he could then be cleared for a rehab start on Saturday, perhaps with one of the Brewers’ Class A clubs so Estrada would not have to bat. The Brewers think he’ll need two Minor League starts.

“He’s doing pretty good,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “He still can’t run 100 percent when he’s running straight out, but in bullpens, he doesn’t feel it at all.”

Estrada started the season in relief but moved to a starting role after left-hander Chris Narveson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Estrada was hurt himself on May 23, when he strained his right quadriceps legging out a double in an eventual Brewers win over the Giants.

Right-hander Mike Fiers made his third start in Estrada’s place on Saturday, losing to the Padres. Fiers will make at least one more start, Roenicke said, probably Saturday at Minnesota.

After that, the Brewers won’t require a fifth starter until June 26 at Cincinnati. That date perfectly coincides with Estrada’s projected return, assuming he is ready after two rehab starts.

“If Marco isn’t ready, then Fiers will go longer than that,” Roenicke said.

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Top two Brewers picks signed

UPDATE: Brewers just announced that both Coulter and Roache have signed.

Catcher Clint Coulter, the Brewers’ top pick in the First-Year Player Draft, completed a physical exam this afternoon and is expected to be under contract by the time the Brewers hold a 5:30 p.m. CT news conference at Miller Park. A baseball source said Coulter would sign for $1.675 million, the figure allotted for the 27th overall pick.

Stay tuned for word from the Brewers, who have yet to formally announce any of their signings including 28th overall selection Victor Roache. His deal is done, and he will also be at the evening news conference.

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Roache signs with Brewers

A baseball source just confirmed for me what Baseball America reported earlier tonight — outfielder Victor Roache, the second of Milwaukee’s back-to-back picks in the first round of the Draft, signed Thursday for $1.525 million. That’s slightly below the $1.65 million slotted for the 28th overall selection.

The Brewers have made no announcement, but I hear they may introduce Roache at Miller Park on Friday. Of course, we’ll have full coverage at Brewers.com.

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Ramirez will try again Thursday

Former Cub Aramis Ramirez only has one more shot to face his old team after he missed a third straight start Wednesday with a strained left quadriceps. Ramirez remains truly day-to-day, and the Brewers will decide Thursday morning whether he plays the team’s afternoon series finale against the Cubs.

Ramirez was sure of one thing.

“I’m 100 percent sure I’m not going to go to the DL,” he said.

He said he was hopeful about returning to the lineup on Thursday. So was manager Ron Roenicke.

“He’s feeling a lot better,” Roenicke said. “From [Tuesday] to today, big improvement. Hopefully, we have that same improvement [on Thursday], and maybe he’ll be ready to go. He did some exercises out earlier with Dan [Wright, the team’s head athletic trainer], and felt good in almost all of them.”

The Brewers used a new lineup for the 20th consecutive game on Wednesday.

“We need him back,” Roenicke said. “Do get ‘Ramie’ back there would change our lineup a lot.”

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After son gets drafted, Roenicke a proud papa

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was a proud papa on Wednesday, when the Brewers nabbed his son, Lance, in the 25th round of the First-Year Player Draft.

“He’s fired up,” Ron Roenicke said. “He was happy when he got the call, and I talked to him right after that. He’s a happy camper.”

And for dad?

“It’s nice,” he said. “I think any good news now is nice.”

Lance Roenicke was a fifth-year senior at the University of California-Santa Barbara. He has history with the Brewers’ Area Code teams in California, and is coming off a big senior season in which he batted .310 with four home runs, 35 RBIs and seven stolen bases.

“He’s worked hard, and I’m glad to see he’s going to get the chance to play,” Ron Roenicke said. “He’s talked about [going pro]. He’s certainly athletic enough to do it, it’s just a matter of having all the tools come together. …

“He knows what it takes. He’s got three cousins that played professionally, one [Josh] is in the Major Leagues right now with Colorado, so he has the experience of talking with them when he doesn’t want to talk to dad about things. I think all of that helps. He understands what it’s all about, playing every day and the bus travels. He’ll get to experience some of it.”

The Brewers were not the only National League Central team to keep things in the family. The Cubs made manager Dale Sveum’s son, Rustin, their 39th-round pick. The Cardinals drafted manager Mike Matheny’s son, Tate, and third base coach Jose Oquendo’s son, Eduardo.

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All-Star contender Braun ‘appreciative of support’

If Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was surprised to rank so high on the first round of All-Star Game balloting results released Tuesday, he didn’t let on.

Braun, who has received not-so-friendly treatment at stadiums across the country, was running third among NL outfielders, meaning he’s in position to start his fifth consecutive Midsummer Classic. The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp led NL outfielders (and all NL players, for that matter) in votes, and the Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran was second.

Braun had the fourth-most votes of all NL players.

“I’ve always been appreciative of people’s support. It’s always meant a lot to me,” he said. “It’s certainly not a priority. I’m trying to focus on getting healthy and helping our team get back to where we expect to be.”

Braun returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing Sunday’s start with right Achilles and hip issues.

Was there any uncertainty at all about where he’d rank in the first round of balloting results?

“It’s not something I’ve ever given a lot of thought to,” Braun said. “Like I said, I’ve always been appreciative of the support of the fans in All-Star voting. Beyond that, it’s not something I think about too much day-to-day. …

“The people here [in Wisconsin] have continued to support us in spit of the fact that we haven’t got off to a great start. That always means a lot. Things aren’t always going to go the way you want as a team, but the fact the fan base has continued to support us, continued to show up, and help create a great atmosphere here, helps us when we’re scuffling.”

Braun had to withdraw from last year’s All-Star Game because of a leg injury, and there remains the possibility that he’d have to bow out again. Braun injured his right Achilles logging his 100th career stolen base in San Diego on May 1, and since then has twice re-aggravated it. Over the weekend, he slid awkwardly on another steal and added a right hip strain to his Achilles issue.

Asked how he felt Tuesday, when he was back in his usual three-hole, Braun shrugged.

“I feel alright,” he said.

Might it bother him all year?

“I hope not,” Braun said. “You always hope it goes away, but any injury you deal with in the season, it rarely goes away completely. Look around the league. [Dustin] Pedroia has been dealing with his thing for a while, and it got worse. [Troy] Tulowitzki, [Matt] Kemp, a lot of guys. It’s really difficult to [make an injury] go away when you play every day and you play hard. I can’t control when I have to sprint after a ball or dive for a ball or slide into a base.”

He can control stolen bases, though Braun said adrenaline takes over at times, and he considers it “stupid” not to steal if an opposing pitcher is letting him do so.

“Whenever a guy is 1.5 [seconds] or slower to the plate, I’m going to be safe 99.9 percent of the time,” Braun said. “I’ll try to pick and choose my spots. I think it’s an important part of my game and an important part of our game, and there’s even more emphasis on it when you lose a guy like Prince [Fielder], because we have to find a way to manufacture runs.”

Braun was asked whether he’d considered the merits of simply shutting down for a week to let his injuries heal. He said he wasn’t sure a week would do it.

So, he’ll play on.

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Brewers take another outfielder to start Draft Day 2

With their fourth selection of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the Brewers took athletic high school outfielder Tyrone Taylor in the second round (No. 92 overall).

Taylor — the third outfielder selected by Milwaukee in this year’s draft — is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound right-hander from Torrance High School in California. Committed to Cal State Fullerton, Taylor batted .473 with six home runs, 26 RBIs and 10 stolen bases as a junior in 2011.

With his athleticism considered to be one of his best tools, Taylor also was a standout football player in high school on both sides of the ball as a running back and safety. In a release from Cal State Fullerton when Taylor committed to the school in 2011, head coach Rick Vanderhook described Taylor as “extremely talented with great instincts in the outfield.”

The 18-year-old Taylor, who played for the Brewers in the 2011 Area Code Games, was the Pioneer League’s Most Valuable Player as a junior.

Round 3, Zachary Quintana, RHP, Arbor View High School, Nevada

Listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Quintana is a right-handed pitcher with a fastball he said tops out at about 96 mph. Armed with a curveball and change up to go with his fastball, Quintana, who just turned 18 last month, is committed to play at San Diego State. With 13 home runs his senior year, he holds the school record at Arbor View High School.

Round 4, Tyler Wagner, RHP, Utah

As the second straight pitcher from Las Vegas taken by the Brewers, Wagner made 22 appearances for Utah this year as a junior. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-hander registered two saves with a 3.59 ERA. He also notched 34 strikeouts and  27 walks in 42 2/3 innings.

Wagner had a more successful sophomore campaign in 2011, boasting a 2.04 ERA and school-record 12 saves on the way to being named a First-Team All-Mountain West Conference reliever.

Round 5, Damien Magnifico, RHP, Oklahoma

Standing 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Magnifico owns a fastball that consistently hits 100 mph. The right-hander went 3-1 in seven starts this season at Oklahoma, appearing in 21 games overall with a 3.68 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings.

Magnifico lacks a strong secondary pitch, although he can throw a slider, and his fastball possesses little movement. There are also injury concerns surrounding the redshirt sophomore, who had screws inserted in his elbow while in junior college.

Round 6, Angel Ortega, SS, Colegio Hector Urdaneta High School, Puerto Rico

Ortego is a slender middle infielder, who checks in at 6-foot-2, 160 pounds. The switch-hitter is committed to play college baseball at Alabama State.

Round 7, David Otterman, LHP, University of British Columbia

In 12 starts this season, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Otterman went 5-3 with a 2.57 ERA. He surrendered 45 walks in 77 innings, but he also struck out 72 batters and allowed just one home run.

Round 8, Edgardo Rivero, CF, Puerto Rico Baseball Acadamy,  Puerto Rico

Rivero has shown good range in the outfield but is limited by his arm. At 155 pounds, the 18-year-old likely will never be a power hitter, but he has proven to be  a solid contact hitter.

Round 9, Alejandro Lavandero, RHP, Belen Jesuit Prep School, Florida

Lavandero’s fastball has been clocked as high as 92 mph. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound right-hander is a switch-hitter at the plate.

Round 10, Anthony Banda, LHP, San Jacinto College North

In 13 games this season, Banda accumulated a 7-1 record along with a 2.01 ERA. Banda, who stands 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, also struck out 73 batters in 71 2/3 innings.

Round 11, James Gainey, RHP, United States Naval Academy

As a sophomore with the Midshipmen this season, Gainey was 3-3 with a 3.25 ERA in 10 starts. He was second on the team with 54 strikeout. During his freshman year, Gainey struck out six batters in two separate relief appearances.

Round 12, Eric Semmelhack, RHP, Wisconsin-Milwaukee

A product of Oak Creek, Wis., Smmelhack is a big right-hander, standing 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds. In his junior campaign with the Panthers, Semmelhack registered 72 strikeouts and a 3.77 ERA on the way to a 5-7 record in 15 starts.

Round 13, Alan Sharkey, 1b, Coral Springs High School, Florida

Sharkey batted .435 with 29 RBIs and four home runs in his senior year with the Colts. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound first baseman is committed to play his college baseball at Nova Southeastern University.

-- Jeremy Warnemuende

Braun in line for another All-Star start

Baseball fans have backed Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun to the tune of 1,112,971 votes, placing him third among National League outfielders in the first round of All-Star Game balloting results released Tuesday.

If the Midsummer Classic were tomorrow, Braun would start for the fifth straight year, alongside leading NL vote-getter Matt Kemp of the Dodgers and Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals. Kemp by far leads all NL players with more than 1.9 million votes.

Other Brewers on the ballot are further down the list. Rickie Weeks is running fourth among second baseman despite his sub-.200 batting average, and third baseman Aramis Ramirez, injured catcher Jonathan Lucroy and injured shortstop Alex Gonzalez are fifth at their respective positions. Lucroy is out for six weeks with a fractured hand and Gonzalez is out for the year after knee surgery, so neither would be able to play in the All-Star Game.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites — online or via your mobile device — using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday, June 28, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Fans can also once again participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby. The 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby — part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day — will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 9.

The 2012 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 1, on the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com.

And the voting doesn’t end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, July 10. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.

The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

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