We wrap up our series today examining the position-by-position depth in the Brewers farm system, by taking a look at the left-handed pitchers on the horizon for Milwaukee.
Players like Teddy Higuera and CC Sabathia don’t come around all that often, and it’s been a while since the Brewers have had even a serviceable lefty in their starting rotation, but they hope to change that over the next few years with several young lefties working their way towards Milwaukee.
At the top of the list for left-handed pitchers sit a trio of young arms in Josh Hader, Kodi Medeiros and Nathan Kirby who all have great potential, but also have some serious question marks attached to them.
Hader, 22, came over to Milwaukee in a deal with the Houston Astros and has turned into one of the Brewers top pitching prospects. There are questions as to whether he’ll be able to stick in the rotation or if he might move to the bullpen at some point, but his stuff is electric as witnessed by his 161 strikeouts in 126 innings of work last season.
Medeiros, 20, was drafted by the Brewers in the first round of the 2014 draft and Milwaukee has tested the young lefty early in his career. He got his first taste of full season ball with Wisconsin in 2015, then spent all of last year with Brevard County as one of the youngest players in the Florida State League. He’s struggled to throw strikes at times but his pitches have a ton of movement and he could be a tough one if he can throw strikes.
Kirby, 23, helped lead the Virginia Cavaliers to a College World Series title in 2015 before being drafted by the Brewers. He logged just 12.2 innings in his pro debut before undergoing Tommy John surgery which knocked him out for all of 2016, but should return to action this season.
Another Tommy John victim is 22-year-old Quintin Torres-Costa, who was a 35th round pick by the Brewers out of Hawaii in 2015. He went under the knife in 2013 but rebounded well and could establish himself as a left-handed relief option for Milwaukee in the coming years.
With a delivery that is tough for hitters to pick up on, Torres-Costa gets his fastball to the plate in the low-90’s but it looks much faster, especially to lefties, and he mixes in a nice changeup to keep hitters off balance.
In 64.1 innings between Helena and Wisconsin last season, Torres-Costa struck out 81 with lefties batting just .229 against him.
OTHERS TO WATCH
In addition to the names above, the Brewers have a couple of other lefties knocking on the door in Brent Suter, Andrew Barbosa and Wei-Chung Wang who could all contribute sooner than later.
Suter, 27, is a former 31st round pick out of Harvard who has worked his way up through the Brewers system, before making his major league debut with Milwaukee last August. In 14 appearances with the Brewers, Suter went 2-2 with a 3.32 ERA.
Barbosa, 29, is a big 6’8″ lefty signed by Milwaukee in the offseason. The native of San Juan, Puerto Rico had previously spent time in the Diamondbacks and Mets organizations, racking up 494 strikeouts over 417.1 innings of work.
Wang, 24, is a name familiar to Brewers fans after he spent a portion of the 2014 season in Milwaukee’s bullpen after being selected from Pittsburgh in the Rule 5 Draft. He’s worked his way back up through the Brewers system over the past two years as a starter and reached Triple-A Colorado Springs late last season.