Spring training is an exciting time of the year because in March everyone wipes the slate clean. This often leads to optimism and hope that under the radar players can perform well and plead their case for making the opening day roster. For the Brewers, they have quite an abundance of new pitchers both on the 40-man roster and as non-roster invitees.
Here we will take a look at five under the radar pitching candidates who are looking to make the 2023 opening day roster.
1) RHP Gus Varland
Varland was selected by the Brewers during the Rule 5 draft in November. He was most recently a member of the Dodgers organization and found success in the minor leagues last year after transitioning into a bullpen role. As a member of the pen, Varland’s fastball began touching 98 MPH and his slider 90 MPH. He also started racking up the strikeouts and over his last 18.1 innings pitched in 2022 he accumulated 31 strikeouts. The Brewers selecting him in the Rule 5 draft is interesting because he has not pitched above Double-A and must remain on Milwaukee’s 26-man roster in order for them to retain him.
2) RHP Abner Uribe
Like Varland, Uribe also has not pitched above Double-A but yet is a member of the Brewers 40-man roster. The Brewers elected to add him to the 40-man roster in November in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. On the mound, Uribe is a flamethrower who can reach triple digits, but injuries and control have hampered his progression and development. He showed improved command in the Arizona Fall League, so hopefully that trend continues in spring training and beyond.
3) RHP Joel Payamps
Payamps was acquired by the Brewers during the three team trade with the Athletics and Braves that also yielded them William Contreras and Justin Yeager. He has major league experience in which over four seasons he has a 3.35 ERA. In 2022 he pitched 55.2 innings and had a 3.23 ERA. Payamps is out of minor league options, so it seems likely that he will get an opening day roster spot.
4) LHP Alex Claudio
Claudio last pitched for the Brewers during the 2020 season. He elected to sign a minor league contract with Milwaukee for the 2022 season. The soft tossing lefty has a funky delivery and tends to generate a lot of ground balls. Currently, Hoby Milner is the only other left-handed bullpen option on the active roster. The Brewers have been linked to a few left-handed free agents, but if none of them are signed Claudio could potentially work his way onto the opening day roster with a good spring training.
5) RHP Thyago Vieira
Of the Brewers non-roster invitees, Vieira is an interesting option. He has a similar profile to Uribe in that he throws hard, control has been an issue, and injuries have limited him at times. One big difference is that Vieira has spent the past few seasons in Japan where overall he had a 2.86 ERA over 125 innings, 150 strikeouts, and 61 walks. He’s one pitcher that fans should be excited to see pitch live once spring training gets underway.
Brewers pitchers and catchers will officially report to spring training on February 16th. Position players have until February 21st. Spring training games for the Brewers begin on February 25th and go until March 28th. Over that month we will see if any of the above mentioned players are able to carve out a role on the opening day roster or not.
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