Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Brewers Cactus League Pitchers Struggle To Make The Roster

Brewers Kelvim Escobar
The Brewers began their first round of options and releases at pitcher this week. Releasing Kelvim Escobar, and optioning a pair of starters to Nashville, the team made the first moves in a heated battle for a spot in the rotation in 2013.
After playing twelve seasons with two teams, Escobar was invited to Arizona with the Brewers to attend spring training. At thirty-six, the aging starter was a long-shot to make the mound, but with over one-hundred wins since debuting with the Blue Jays in 1997, he was worth the look. A nagging shoulder injury suffered in 2009 continued to impede his performance during camp, however, and MRIs showed the tear wasn't likely to improve any further.

The veteran has no hard feelings about the decision. Talking with reporters after the news broke; Escobar said he understands that the younger generation of pitchers is stepping into his place, and that he never had any illusions about his chances. He followed up by admitting that he does still hope to make a major league squad before the season begins, though he also would be happy with guaranteed starts in Mexico's leagues. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke also revealed this week that prospects Tyler Thornburg and Johnny Hellweg would be optioned to the team's Triple-A affiliate in Nashville. The right-handed pair came into camp as the Brewers second and fourth ranked prospects, respectively, and are expected to debut as starters during the season after stretching in the minors.

Hellweg was acquired from the Angels bullpen last summer in the Zack Greinke trade. He managed a 4.15 ERA with seven strikeouts in two starts and five reliefs with Huntsville after the deal, earning an invitation to Maryvale for 2013. The twenty-four year-old entered camp as an expected bullpen candidate, but was deemed better fit at starter.

Tyler Thornburg Struggles In Cactus Leage Play

Thornburg, second to just Wily Peralta in the team's prospect ranking, is a tried and true minor league starter. At twenty-four, he had a poor debut performance in his first Cactus League start this year, giving-up four runs on four hits over four innings. He was slotted to start Wednesday against Colorado, but with aces Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada returning from the World Baseball Classic, Gallardo will take his place.

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