Brewers’ player pool loaded with last summer’s Missions

The Missions' Adrian Houser pitches against the Redbirds on April 9 at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander`
Adrian Houser, pitching for the San Antonio Missions at Wolff Stadium in 2019, is part of the Milwaukee Brewers’ player pool announced Monday.
The Milwaukee Brewers announced their initial player pool for the 2020 Major League Baseball season.

The pool includes these position players from the 2019 San Antonio Missions:

Milwaukee Brewers player pool includes these position players from the 2019 San Antonio Missions:
C David Freitas
C Jacob Nottingham
IF Keston Hiura

These pitchers who saw action with the 2019 Missions are also included in the Brewers’ player pool:

Ray Black
Zack Brown
Corbin Burnes
Adrian Houser
Brent Suter

Missions watch: Ray Black

Ray Black pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers in a Feb. 23 spring training game at American Family Fields of Phoenix. - photo by Joe Alexander
Ray Black pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers in a Feb. 23 spring training game at American Family Fields of Phoenix. – photo by Joe Alexander
One in a series of brief looks at players with ties to the San Antonio Missions as we get ready for the 2020 baseball season.

Ray Black had a brief stretch with the San Antonio Missions last summer as a relief pitcher.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander joined the Milwaukee Brewers organization in a trade-deadline deal on July 31 that saw the Missions’ Mauricio Dubon go to the the San Francisco Giants organization.

Black made six appearances for the Missions, allowing only one earned run. He gave up one hit with nine strikeouts and two walks in 6.0 innings.

He finished the season with Milwaukee. Black made 15 relief appearances for the Brewers and had a 5.14 ERA.

Black started 2020 spring training with the Brewers’ big club in the Cactus League. He appeared in two games before being sidelined by an injury.

Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on March 10 that Black has a sore back but the issue isn’t considered serious.

Black was originally drafted by the Giants in the seventh round in 2011. He made his MLB debut in 2018 and made 26 relief appearances for the Giants that season.

Ray Black pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers in a Feb. 23 spring training game at American Family Fields of Phoenix. - photo by Joe Alexander
Ray Black pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers in a Feb. 23 spring training game at American Family Fields of Phoenix. – photo by Joe Alexander

Missions watch: David Freitas

David Freitas of the 2019 San Antonio Missions with the Milwaukee Brewers in a 2020 spring training game at American Family Fields of Phoenix. - photo by Joe Alexander
David Freitas with the Milwaukee Brewers in a 2020 spring training game.
One in a series of brief looks at players with ties to the San Antonio Missions as we get ready for the 2020 baseball season.

David Freitas led the San Antonio Missions in hitting last season with a .381 average.

Freitas hovered around the .400 mark for much of the summer while playing catcher and first base in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

Freitas, who will turn 31 years old on March 18, was a 15th-round draft pick in 2010 and has paid his dues in the minor leagues. He has played in 802 games in the minors with a .289 average and 73 home runs.

He played in his first major league game in 2017 with the Atlanta Braves. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound right-hander has played in a total of 58 games in the majors including 16 at the end of the last season after being called up by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Freitas went to 2020 spring training with the Brewers’ big league crew. He is hitting .211 (4-of-19) in the Cactus League in 13 games.

David Freitas on Twitter

Missions watch: Lucas Erceg

Lucas Erceg of the 2019 San Antonio Missions playing for the Milwaukee Brewers in a 2020 spring training game at American Family Fields of Phoenix. - photo by Joe Alexander
Lucas Erceg playing for the Milwaukee Brewers in a 2020 spring training game at American Family Fields of Phoenix.
One in a series of brief looks at players with ties to the San Antonio Missions as we get ready for the 2020 baseball season.

One of the best infield arms in the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system belongs to Lucas Erceg.

The 24-year-old from California showed off his skills last summer at Wolff Stadium – primarily as the San Antonio Missions’ third baseman.

What held Erceg back was a season when he struggled to get in an extended groove at the plate. The left-handed hitter batted .218 with 15 home runs in 116 games in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He struck out 102 times in 357 at-bats.

A second-round draft pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016, Erceg batted a combined .327 his first professional season in rookie and Class A ball in the summer of 2016.

Erceg is with the Brewers’ big club in 2020 spring training, seeing action at both third base and first base. He has played in 13 Cactus League games so far and is hitting .182 with one home run and five RBIs in 22 at-bats.

It doesn’t look like the Brewers have room for Erceg on their opening day roster, so he appears likely to be back at Wolff Stadium with the Missions a month from now when they open their 2020 season on April 9.

Update: On Monday afternoon, Erceg was one of nine players the Brewers reassigned to Minor League camp. The list also includes pitchers Thomas Jankins and Miguel Sanchez from the 2019 Missions.

Missions watch: Angel Perdomo

The Brewers' Angel Perdomo, who pitched for the San Antonio Missions in 2019, on the mound for a spring training game on Feb. 24 at American Family Fields of Phoenix. - photo by Joe Alexander
The Brewers’ Angel Perdomo on the mound for a spring training game on Feb. 24 at American Family Fields of Phoenix.
One in a series of brief looks at players with ties to the San Antonio Missions as we get ready for the 2020 baseball season.

Angel Perdomo enters his second season pitching in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.

The 6-foot-6 left-hander spent most of last season with the Triple-A San Antonio Missions. He was third on the team in appearances with 40, all in relief, and compiled a 3-2 record and 5.17 ERA. He recorded 38 strikeouts in 54.0 innings.

Perdomo started the 2019 season with the Double-A Biloxi Shuckers. He dominated in five games and put together a 2-0 record with a 1.17 ERA and 21 strikeouts and 5 1/3 innings before being called up to the Missions.

The 25-year-old from the Dominican Republic was added to the Brewers’ 40-man roster on Nov. 4, 2019. He is with the big club for spring training. In his first two appearances in the Cactus League this spring, he pitched scoreless innings with four strikeouts, one hit and one walk.

Update: Angel Perdomo pitched one inning Wednesday afternoon in the Brewers’ 5-1 loss to the White Sox in a spring training game in Phoenix. Perdomo struck out all three batters he faced.

Missions watch: Corey Ray

The Brewers' Corey Ray in right field in a spring training game Feb. 26 at Scottsdale Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander
The Brewers’ Corey Ray in right field in a spring training game Feb. 26 at Scottsdale Stadium.
One in a series on players with ties to the San Antonio Missions as we get ready for the 2020 baseball season.

One thing we know Corey Ray can do is chase down fly balls.

Ray has been roaming center field and right field in the Milwaukee Brewers’ first Cactus League games of spring training.

The hope is he regains the form that made the 2016 first-round draft pick a rising star in the Brewers’ minor league system. In 2018, Ray hit .239 and showed his power with 27 home runs in 135 games with Double-A Biloxi.

As a San Antonio Missions center fielder in 2019, he was limited to 53 games due to injuries and had a tough time getting in a groove at the plate for most of the season. He was on the injured list from May 23 to July 3. From there he spent a week on a rehab assignment, then went to Double-A Biloxi.

Ray didn’t rejoin the Missions until Aug. 1, when the Pacific Coast League season was more than half over. He batted .188 for the year with seven home runs.

The 25-year-old from Chicago looks healthy enough to have a sunnier 2020 based on his showing in early Cactus League games. Ray was a late-inning sub in the Brewers first spring training game of 2020, taking over in center field on Feb. 23 at American Family Fields of Phoenix.

He was in the starting lineup the next day. He started in right field on Feb. 26 when the Brewers played at the San Francisco Giants’ home field at Scottsdale Stadium. He has gone 1-for-10 to start the spring, but the one hit was a home run.

Adam McCalvy of MLB.com projects Ryan Braun, Avisail García, Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich and Ben Gamel as locks to be outfielders on the Brewers’ opening day roster. That might leave room for a spot for Ray, who is currently on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster.

If not, the 25-year-old from Chicago would probably start the season tracking down fly balls at Wolff Stadium for the second year in a row.

Corey Ray on Twitter

Missions watch: Jacob Nottingham

Jacob Nottingham was hit on the right hand during the Milwaukee Brewers' first spring training game of 2020 at American Family Fields of Phoenix. - photo by Joe Alexander
Jacob Nottingham was hit on the right hand during the Milwaukee Brewers’ first spring training game of 2020 at American Family Fields of Phoenix.
First in a series of brief looks at players with ties to the San Antonio Missions as we get ready for the 2020 baseball season.

As if playing catcher isn’t tough enough.

During the Milwaukee Brewers’ first spring training game in the Cactus League on Feb. 23, Jacob Nottingham was hit on the right hand while batting and had to leave the game.

The Brewers reported that Nottingham wasn’t seriously injured. He returned to action as Milwaukee’s starting catcher three days later.

Jacob Nottingham was in the Milwaukee Brewers' starting lineup on Feb. 26 against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Field, three days after being hit on the right hand in the Brewers' first spring training game of 2020. - photo by Joe Alexander
Jacob Nottingham was in the Milwaukee Brewers’ starting lineup on Feb. 26 against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Field, three days after being hit on the right hand in the Brewers’ first spring training game of 2020. – photo by Joe Alexander

He has played in four of Milwaukee’s first eight Cactus League games.

The 6-foot-2 Nottingham, who turns 25 years old on April 3, started more games at catcher for the San Antonio Missions in 2019 than any other player. He played in 83 games as a catcher, first baseman and designated hitter. Nottingham batted .231 with five home runs and 40 RBIs.

Nottingham had limited action with the Brewers last summer. He played in nine games and had two hits in six at-bats including his first major league home run.

According to an MLB.com projection by Adam McCalvy, Nottingham has a possibility of making the Brewers 2020 opening day roster. David Freitas, who was a teammate of Nottingham on the 2019 Missions, is also listed as a possible at catcher.
Brewers’ projected 2020 roster on MLB.com

Jacob Nottingham on Twitter

Todd Rosiak of The Athletic tweeted an interview with Nottingham on Feb. 24:

Former Missions trip wraps up at Wrigley Field

Former San Antonio Missions second baseman Keston Hiura playing for the Milwaukee Brewers against the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 30, 2019, at Wrigley Field. - photo by Joe Alexander
Former Missions second baseman Keston Hiura playing for the Brewers against the Cubs on Aug. 30, 2019, at Wrigley Field. – photo by Joe Alexander
The third and final game of my trip to catch up with some former 2019 San Antonio Missions players was on a sunny afternoon at Wrigley Field.

The Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-1 on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.

It was a tough day for the former Missions. Keston Hiura started at second but suffered a hamstring strain and went on the injured list the next day.

Hernan Perez started at third base. Trent Grisham and Cory Spangenberg both got in the game late.

Former Missions pitchers Ray Black and Jay Jackson each threw one scoreless inning in relief.

Game photos taken from my seat in Section 225.

Former Missions star Keston Hiura homers in Game 2 of Brewers trip

The Milwaukee Brewers' Keston Hiura celebrates after hitting a fourth-inning home run on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Miller Park. - photo by Joe Alexander
The Milwaukee Brewers’ Keston Hiura celebrates after hitting a fourth-inning home run on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Miller Park. – photo by Joe Alexander
The second game of my Milwaukee Brewers trip was a sunny afternoon at Miller Park.

Keston Hiura hit his 16th major league home run as the Brewers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 Wednesday, Aug. 28.

Former San Antonio Missions in the Brewers’ starting lineup were Trent Grisham in center, Hiura at second and Cory Spangenberg at third.

Hiura had two hits including a double and three RBIs. Grisham also had two hits with a double.

Game photos from my seat in section 208.

Former Missions with the Brewers and my first visit to Miller Park

Former San Antonio Missions players Keston Hiura, Trent Grisham and Cory Spangenberg in uniform for the Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 27 at Miller Park. - photo by Joe Alexander
Former San Antonio Missions players Keston Hiura, Trent Grisham and Cory Spangenberg in uniform for the Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 27 at Miller Park. – photo by Joe Alexander
After a summer of watching the San Antonio Missions, I got a chance to see some former Missions in the majors.

Tuesday, Aug. 27 was also my first visit to Miller Park in Milwaukee.

Trent Grisham in left field, Keston Hiura at second, Cory Spangenberg at third and Adrian Houser on the mound were all in the starting lineup for the Brewers.

Game photos were taken from my seat in Section 212.

The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Brewers 6-3.