The Milwaukee Brewers have been floating in a sea of mediocrity since (and before) their 96-win 2011 campaign. Much of the problem is attributed to a weak farm system created by poor drafting and prospect turnout. In the 2013 draft, then-Scouting Director Bruce Seid’s decided to go for broke, and the Brewers went hard after high-risk/high-reward talent. The change in approach kicked off the farm system’s transformation from arguably the worst in 2014 to among the best entering 2017. Hidden behind the top hands of the Brewers farm is an interesting talent in Jon Perrin, an imposing figure on the mound who does not let a batter walk.
Lesser-Known Brewers Farm Hand: Jon Perrin
Perrin, 23, is from Olathe, Kansas. The 6’5″, 220-pound righty played for Oklahoma State before being drafted by the Brewers in the 27th round of the 2015 draft. The Detroit Tigers selected Perrin in the 33rd round in the previous year. The seasons he had before each draft are what make Perrin so interesting.
What Perrin accomplished at the D1 college level was nothing short of impressive. Originally a walk-on, he was OK at best, with mid-80s velocity and college-average command during his freshman year, good for a 3.86 ERA. He improved in his sophomore year when given more innings, cutting down immensely on walks and ending with an ERA at 3.26. He came back for his junior year and became a premier arm, owning a low-90s fastball. Perrin led the team in innings (102) and strikeouts (81), and posted a 2.38 ERA.
Scouts hadn’t given Perrin much thought before his junior season, and he forced them to pay attention. Still, after a strong season out of nowhere, the Tigers decided he was a 33rd round talent. Perrin is a smart kid, and chose to finish school. He was drafted six rounds earlier by the Brewers after his senior year, during which he posted a 4.07 ERA season with an increased walk rate. He has certainly set out to prove his college days were not a fluke.
Down on the Brewers Farm
Professionally, Perrin has been lights-out for the most part as he traversed the lower levels of the Brewers Farm. The Brewers first assigned Perrin to the rookie-level Arizona League. A short and encouraging stint earned Perrin a promotion to the Single-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Although A-ball beat him up pretty good, Perrin managed to walk just four batters in 39.2 innings. His 34 strikeouts were also encouraging in the face of a 4.31 ERA. With Perrin’s first professional season in the books, it was clear he had talent that warranted attention. A 0.9 BB/9 and 7.7 K/9 at the Single-A level out of a 27th rounder is nothing to sneeze at. It showed just how much he may have been overlooked.
The Timber Rattlers put Perrin’s arm to work to start off 2016, though not for long. Perrin was dominant to start the year. Through six starts and 36 innings, he held a 2.50 ERA. It was no fluke, either. Perrin struck out 47 batters, and racked up double-digit K’s in two outings. In his tyrannical rule of the strike zone, Perrin walked only one.
Following his promotion to Advanced-A, Perrin struggled at first. He walked four and hit one batter in four innings in his second game with the Brevard County Manatees. His next appearance saw him toss seven innings and hit two batters while fanning just three. Perrin eventually found his command and ended his stint in Advanced-A with a 2.60 ERA in 110.2 innings. He walked 19 while striking out 95.
The Brewers decided to move Perrin up for a start in Double-A to end the 2016 season. In his lone start with the Biloxi Shuckers, he lasted just 3.1 innings. He walked three and struck out two, giving up 10 runs on eight hits. Expect him to start 2017 in Double-A and reclaim his command. He has nowhere to go but up in the Brewers farm.
Perrin’s command has been remarkable and exciting. Its emergence is what got Perrin looks by scouts in college. It’s what he used to climb three rungs on the minor league ladder in 2016.
Because the Brewers farm holds a healthy amount of promising pitchers, Perrin gets fewer looks than he probably should. It makes sense that he is an under-the-radar guy, however. Perrin owns a low-90s fastball with some movement, but nothing too far above average. He has a sharp and deceptive slider that tricks younger players, but likely won’t be anything too special as he moves up. Perrin’s strength is being able to spot these pitches well and avoid walks.
Perrin does not offer anything lights out, and likely never will. Those familiar with Perrin peg him for a back-of-the-rotation guy, if he makes it to the majors. His worst-case scenario is a career as a 4A guy, offering a team an option when faced with injury. Still, as a 27th rounder, there is immense value in finding a guy who can contribute to an organization in that role. With a career 1.4 walks per nine in the minor leagues, he is a prospect worth checking on.