THE STARTING NINE: MONDAY, JULY 31ST

The Starting Nine is a weekly feature that will post each Monday, including nine items from the past week worth checking out (if you haven’t already) as we get ready for the week ahead.

1. Congratulations go out to the AZL Brewers, who became the first of Milwaukee’s affiliates to clinch a playoff spot with a win on Saturday night. Maryvale’s 19-8 record in the first half of the season was good for first place in the AZL’s Central Division, 1.5 games up on the Dodgers.

2. It’s been tough sledding for the Brewers lately, but one bright spot has been the performance of pitcher Josh Hader, who twirled three shutout innings of relief against the Cubs on Saturday night. Adam McCalvy took a look at Hader for Brewers.com and drew comparisons between the lefty and Cleveland Indians stud, Andrew Miller.

3. At Low-A Wisconsin, first-round pick Keston Hiura continues to show what he can do with the bat, hitting an even .400 through his first 11 games. He has hit safely in every game he has played since joining the Timber Rattlers and indications are that things are going well with his throwing program and he could see action in the field before long.

4. In the world of prospect rankings, MLB Pipeline released an updated list of Milwaukee’s Top 30 prospects, including a lot of familiar faces, but plenty of new ones too.

5. Over at Disciples of Uecker, Jake Covey unveiled his mid-season rankings for the Brewers, going 51 players deep with analysis. Spoiler alert: Lewis Brinson checks in at number one.

6. Meanwhile, over at Brew Crew Ball, Brad Ford has his always excellent Minor League Roundup for Week 16 posted. Be sure to take a look and see who’s doing what throughout the Brewers’ farm system.

7. Need a break from reading? Then be sure to give a listen to the newest podcast in town, Milwaukee’s Tailgate. Hosted by a trio of wonderfully knowledgeable Brewers fans, Steve Garcsynski, JP Breen and Ryan Topp provide fantastic insight on both the MLB and MiLB fronts. Android, iTunes, Soundcloud, whatever your preferred method is, these guys have you covered. For more, check them out on Twitter @MKETailgate or find them on Facebook at MKETailgateBaseballPodcast.

8. There’s been all kinds of roster juggling in recent weeks, including the promotion of outfielder Troy Stokes, Jr. from Carolina to Biloxi. Unfortunately, he took the place of Tyrone Taylor, who landed back on the disabled list with the same hamstring injury that has plagued him all season. To catch up on all of Milwaukee’s recent transactions, be sure to head over to Brewerfan.net and take a look at the Transactions thread on their minor league forum.

9. Of course, I can’t let the day go by without mentioning the trade deadline. A few weeks ago it seemed much more likely that the Brewers would be fairly active at the deadline, but given their recent performance, today could be a quiet day. Milwaukee might be best served to just stand pat for now, but even if they don’t make any deals, there could still be a very interesting couple of days approaching as the Brewers will need to continue to tinker with their starting rotation.