While the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t really have any big name prospects playing in winter leagues, they did have several fringe major leaguers getting some action.
Catcher Robinzon Diaz, who shall forever be remembered as the player that the Blue Jays sent to Pittsburgh in exchange for Jose Bautista, played 21 games for Cibao in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, hitting .238/.284/.313 with three doubles and one home run in 80 at bats. He split the season between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville, hitting .302/.335/.433 overall.
30-year-old infielder Irving Falu, who signed with the Brewers this offseason, hit only .195/.277/.276 in 123 Puerto Rican league at bats. Falu played one game with the Royals this season and hit .256/.320/.329 with their Triple-A affiliate in Omaha.
Veteran corner infielder Juan Francisco, 26, didn’t have a great season with Milwaukee, hitting .221/.300/.433 and played winter ball in his native Dominican Republic. There, he hit .260/.351/.393 with nine doubles, a triple and three home runs in 150 at bats. While his sky-high strikeout rates came down in the Dominican, he still struck out 42 times in 150 bats (he struck out 138 times in 348 major league at bats).
Hector Gomez, a 25-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic had a much stronger season in the winter league back home than he did in Double-A Huntsville. He hit .269/.290/.396 with four doubles, two triples and three home runs in 134 winter at bats but walked only twice and struck out 28 times.
After making his major league debut with the Brewers this season, first baseman Sean Halton, 26, also went down to the Dominican for some winter ball and he hit a very strong .327/.410/.538. In Triple-A Nashville, Halton hit 42 extra-base hits while holding his own with a .238/.291/.396 line with four doubles and four home runs in 111 big league plate appearances.
Reserve outfielder, 27-year-old Elian Herrera, was picked up on waivers by thee Brewers from the L.A. Dodgers and also played at home in the Dominican. He hit .288/.310/.378 with four doubles and three triples in 111 Dominican at bats. He only played in four games with the Dodgers last year but hit a very solid .282/.357/.370 for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes.
Backup catcher Martin Maldonado, 27, played in Puerto Rico this winter, hitting .271/.354/.329 in 85 at bats after a poor-hitting season with the Brewers.
25-year-old Jason Rogers pulled some double duty this winter, playing 18 games in the Arizona Fall League and then heading down to the Dominican Republic for another 13 with Leones del Escogido where he hit .235/.304/.314. Rogers played mostly first base this season in Double-A Huntsville and had a very successful season, hitting .270/.346/.468 with 22 home runs.
Versatile infielder/outfielder Eugenio Velez, released in the middle of 2013 by the Blue Jays and signed to a minor league deal by the Brewers, hit very well in his 20 games in the Dominican, putting up a .295/.375/.436 line. His numbers in Triple-A Nashua were even better than his already strong numbers from Buffalo but the 31 year old hit .314/.398/.472 with 35 extra-base hits in 373 minor league at bats last season and added 30 stolen bases.
26-year-old righty Hiram Burgos made his MLB debut in 2013, throwing 29 1/3 innings for the Brew Crew and posting some unappealing numbers. He was much stronger pitching in his native Puerto Rico, racking up 38 2/3 innings with a 1.40 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 12 walks and 35 strikeouts.
The Brewers were active on the waiver wire this offseason: they also selected 28-year-old Puerto Rican righty Jose De La Torre from the Red Sox. Like Burgos, De La Torre made his major league debut in 2013 and also posted an ERA above 6.00, walking almost one batter per inning despite racking up 15 strikeouts in 11 1/3 big league innings. In winter ball, De La Torre threw 18 1/3 innings, posting a 3.93 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP along with nine walks (two were intentional) and 18 strikeouts.
29-year-old Dominican righty Alfredo Figaro returned to the major leagues in 2013 with the Brewers after having been in Japan for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He was very solid, posting a 4.14 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 74 big league innings with just 15 walks and 54 strikeouts. Figaro pitched 13 2/3 innings in his native Dominican Republic this winter and only gave up four earned runs with three walks and thirteen strikeouts.
Arcenio Leon, a 27-year-old Venezuelan lefty, returned home to throw 30 innings out of the bullpen in Venezuelan winter league action. He had a 2.70 ERA, 1.50 WHIP with 12 walks and 32 strikeouts. In 2013, Leon was a swingman in Huntsville, throwing 71 1/3 innings including 10 starts, with an ERA of 5.68, a WHIP of 1.65 and walking more than he struck out with 58 walks and 41 strikeouts.
Johnnie Lowe, 28, threw 12 2/3 innings in Venezuela as well, posting a 7.82 ERA and 1.82 WHIP with three walks and 13 strikeouts. Lowe had a good season in Triple-A Nashville, however.
26-year-old righty Eric Marzec had a very good season split between High-A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville, posting a 1.95 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP over 60 innings. Marzec has spent his winter with the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League and has a 4.34 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, seven walks and 28 strikeouts in just 18 2/3 innings out of the bullpen.