Maryvale Baseball Park —— On Monday night, pitching for the Arizona League Brewers on a rehab assignment, Milwaukee Brewers right-handed pitcher Adrian Houser completed his fifth (brief) AZL start of the 2017 season on his road back from Tommy John surgery. The 24-year-old righty, who appeared in two games in the big leagues way back in 2015, was sidelined midseason in 2016 with the injury, and is only now starting to return to full health—with a timetable that would likely put him fully ready to compete for a big league gig by spring training, 2018.
On Monday night, he tossed two more innings in the AZL, at home in Maryvale against the Arizona League Dodgers and he allowed one run on three hits and a walk over that span, with four strikeouts to his name. I regrettably didn’t get velocity readings for Houser’s stuff last night—when he came out, rather than asking the pitchers charting behind me for numbers, I was otherwise occupied focusing on a very high-profile new pitching prospect—but I did get a full video of Houser’s outing, which you can see right here:
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The biggest (early) concerns for a Tommy John survivor like Houser here are two-fold: command, and pitch life. Adrian Houser more or less had both on Monday night. His command profile will continue to improve as he works his way fully back from the injury to be ready for 2018, but as far as pitch life goes—goodness gracious. You can plainly see it in the video; he’s throwing a legitimate hammer curveball, he’s not struggling to pop the mitt a little bit with his fastball, and everything is showing good late movement that suggests his arm is probably feeling pretty good. The road from here to another shot at the big leagues is still a long one, but Adrian Houser looked great on Monday night and I can’t help but think it’s another big step forward for a guy who could sneak his way into impacting the Milwaukee Brewers in a big way next summer.
AZL Brewers News, Notes, And More
Not just Adrian Houser in here this morning; as I sit in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport waiting for a way-too-early flight back to Los Angeles, some news and notes on a few Milwaukee Brewers prospects from this week in the Arizona League:
-As I had hoped, we sat down with righty Austin Rubick for an on-camera interview. He really gave us some interesting stuff, opening up to host Sande Charles about the tough emotional times he went through with a failed college experience, and what he had to do to get to pro ball today. I’ll have that full interview up on the site later this week; in the meantime, if you missed it from a few days ago, here’s a full breakdown (and video!) of Rubick’s August 10 start for the AZL Brewers. There’s a ton to like about where this kid is headed.
-Later this week or early next, I’ll post a full scouting report and some game video on outfielder Je’Von Ward. Ward, the Brewers’ twelfth-round selection this June, was pried away from a commitment to USC with an over-slot bonus to sign. He’s incredibly raw right now, but a very, very good athlete. It’s just going to take some time for him to put it all together.
-If you missed it the other day, we posted video and analysis of righty Chase Williams rehabbing this week with the AZL Brewers. You can click here to read/watch that. He looked great in my view on August 10, sitting 93-95 mph with a 90 mph (!) slider. He’s a relatively unknown prospect in that system right now, having thrown just a handful of games between last summer and this one due to injuries. If he’s fully healthy, though, watch out—he has a serious, serious power profile that could help him move quickly.
-Last, but certainly not least, watch out for outfielder Robert Henry. I’m obsessed with this kid. I know, I know — he’s a 39th rounder out of an Ivy League school (Brown University in Rhode Island), but he’s got some loud tools, led by an absolute cannon of an arm in center field and backed up well by very good foot speed on the bases and in the outfield. He plays hard, he plays very smart, and he’s an extremely good situational hitter who is already taking exceptionally high-quality at-bats. Old for this league on account of his college background, I’d love to see him get a (very short) look at Low-A Wisconsin later this year, though with just a few weeks left in the season that may not happen. Regardless, he’s a legit ballplayer who is going to sneak up on some people the next few seasons. He’s far from being a high-impact prospect, but seriously… don’t sleep on this kid. He wasn’t the best player I saw in the AZL this week, but he was far and away my favorite player. I’ll put up some at-bat video and a full scouting report on him in a few days.