Since Spring Training, Brewers fans have been clamoring over Ethan Small. Following a strong Spring, Small turned heads both inside the organization and out. On Sunday morning, Brewers fans were treated to news they’ve been longing to hear. Ethan Small is getting the call up. The Brewers 2019 first rounder is their top pitching prospect through 2022 and has been generating fan buzz all season with his hot start at AAA Nashville.
Small’s Minor League Career
Small has thrown 38.1 innings for Nashville sporting a 3-1 record. Small has put out a 1.88 ERA with 49 strikeouts. The southpaw has looked dominant against AAA lineups and rarely looks uncomfortable on the mound.
More shutdown stuff from Ethan Small, who logged 7 strikeouts over 6 scoreless innings this weekend, allowing just 1 hit.
For the season: 13.1 IP, 18 K, 5 H, 1 ER pic.twitter.com/aelHNsGVJL
— Brewers Player Development (@BrewersPD) April 20, 2022
Since being drafted in 2019, Small has recorded a 1.78 ERA through SIngle-A to Triple-A ball. To compliment his run prevention, Small has 177 strikeouts in 136.2 innings. The Mississippi State product has certainly shown why he merited the first round selection.
What Small Will Bring to the Brewers
At first look, fans will notice the 24-year-olds lanky 6-foot-4 frame. While Small does not pack a ton of power in that frame, he does bring a lot of movement. That movement is evidenced in his fastball. Small brings a fastball in the 90-94 MPH range, but brings with it a ton of vertical movement. Small is a command pitcher shown by his 49 strikeouts to 22 walk ratio in 2022. The movement on his fastball generates a lot of swings and misses and rightfully so.
Small is able to compliment his fastball with an effective changeup. The changeup has been a great strikeout pitch for Small. Small’s changeup has average downward sink and a ton of run, but the change in velocity is what proves most effective. Coming across at 80-82 MPH, the changeup does exactly what it needs to keep hitters off balance.
— Dominic Cotroneo (@Dom_Cotroneo) March 18, 2022
The biggest concern with Small has been the effectiveness of his third pitch. Small has an average curveball, but is not nearly effective as he would like it to be. The curveball does not feature as much break as scouts would like, but with the Brewers pitching lab, there will certainly be time to improve this.
Following a tendon flare up that sidelined Small the majority of the 2021 second half, the southpaw started to work on improving his slider. An effective slider from a lefty with the arm-slot Small has can be a devastating pitch for opposing hitters. Small reworked his grip on the slider and that has appeared to make a difference. With a mid-80’s slider still developing, Small can truly work himself into a significant role in the Brewers organization.
Small has become a master of varying his timing to keep hitters and baserunners off balance. Whether it is varying up his leg kick or checks on runners, Small has been phenomenal at not allowing opposing players to get an accurate read on him. This timing component is often overlooked, but can make all the difference. Being unable to get the timing figured out for a hitter can make them extremely uncomfortable in the box and can make even average pitches hard to hit.
Ethan Small, Messing with Timing. pic.twitter.com/P2avLMBUt3
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 4, 2021
Outlook For Small
While many fans are optimistic that Small will be here to stay, time has yet to tell. As fans have seen with Aaron Ashb, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta, the path to being a standout pitcher is rarely a straight line. Small will almost certainly have his ups and downs in his first appearances with the Brewers, but fans will need to remain calm and patient. Rarely in Major league Baseball do pitchers come up and instantly look dominant against the best hitters.
Small is still a developing young arm and this call up does not mean he won’t be sent back to Triple-A at some point to continue developing. The Brewers have an excellent pitching staff and that may limit Small’s time until Freddy Peralta comes back. With that being said, if Small comes up and looks the part of a big league pitcher, the Brewers will definitely be inclined to keep him on the roster. Whether he will be used primarily as a starter or bullpen piece is also yet to be seen. One thing is for sure. Brewers fans all over will be keeping a close on the development of Small on the big league roster.
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