Being a Milwaukee Brewers Minor League Pitcher of the Year has often led to success. In 2015, Jorge Lopez won the award and later saw time in Major League Baseball. He was followed by Brandon Woodruff in (2016) and Corbin Burnes (2017). Both Woodruff and Burnes had big impacts with Milwaukee in 2018.
Last year’s minor league Pitcher of the Year Zack Brown is currently on the same impactful path. With great stuff and impressive minor league numbers, Brown will be the next young arm to contribute at the major league level.
Zack Brown Poised to Contribute in Milwaukee
Minor League Debut
The Brewers drafted Brown in the fifth round of the 2016 draft out of the University of Kentucky. After a a tough first 12 appearances, he has gotten better at each and every stop in the minor leagues.
During his first full season in 2017, Brown excelled in Single-A Wisconsin and High-A Carolina. In 18 appearances (13 starts) at Wisconsin, Brown compiled a 4-5 record with a 3.41 ERA. Pitching in 85 innings, Brown struck out 84 batters. After his promotion he was even better. In Carolina, he went a perfect 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA and an incredible 1.04 WHIP.
This past season at age-23, Brown was flat out dominant. Pitching in 23 outings (22 starts), he set career marks in strikeouts (116), wins (9) and opponent batting average (.208). Brown on the mound usually meant good things for the Shuckers as they put together an 18-2 record on games that he started throughout the year. Even more impressive, Brown led all Southern League pitchers with a 2.48 ERA.
All of these numbers together earned him not only the Brewers Pitcher of the Year Award but the Southern League MVP award as well. In a league filled with talented arms, Brown shined above the rest. His 57% ground ball rate along with the high number of strikeouts makes him a great fit for Miller Park as well.
As a prospect in MLB, Brown is starting to receive recognition as well. Last season he started 25th on MLB.com’s Brewers top prospect list and finished the year at No. 8. Though he still did not make MLB.com’s top 100 prospect list this year, he was tabbed as the 85th best overall prospect on Keith Law’s ESPN list. Many scouts have tabbed Brown as a future reliever, but Law sees him as a possible middle to back end of the rotation starter.
With an invite to big league camp this spring, Brown is expected to start 2019 in Triple-A San Antonio. With this move he will benefit from not having to pitch at Colorado Springs next year, something many of his counterparts have had to face. If he is able to show sustained success it is only a matter of time until he is in Milwaukee.
The Brewers have many arms competing for the middle to back end of the rotation currently. While it is unrealistic to see Brown making starts in Milwaukee this year, he will most definitely see innings throughout the season if healthy. Chances are that he will have a path similar to Woodruff and Burnes, being brought along slowly in the bullpen once he arrives. The Brewers have a ton of young talented arms in Milwaukee, with Brown the next one on the way.
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