The Brewers are set to promote one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, right-hander Corbin Burnes, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. The team has also activated outfielder Lorenzo Cain from the 10-day disabled list; sent fellow outfielder Ryan Braun and catcher Manny Pina to the DL; recalled infielder/outfielder Nate Orf and catcher Jacob Nottingham from Triple-A; and optioned righty Aaron Wilkerson, per Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.
In yet another move, Milwaukee announced that it has designated lefty Mike Zagurski for assignment. Between Zagurski’s exit and Burnes’ promotion, the Brewers still have an open spot on their 40-man roster.
Now 23, Burnes will get to the majors quickly after joining the Brewers as a fourth-round pick in 2016. After Milwaukee selected him, Burnes proceeded to race through the lower levels of the minors over the previous two seasons, and has spent all of this year at Triple-A. Burnes hasn’t been great at preventing runs in 2018, having recorded a 5.15 ERA in 78 2/3 innings (19 appearances, 13 starts), though the Brewers’ Triple-A home in Colorado Springs is a tough environment for pitchers. And to his credit, Burnes has managed 9.27 K/9 against 3.55 BB/9.
Both MLB.com (No. 56) and Baseball America (No. 58) regard Burnes as a top-60 prospect in baseball and one of the best farmhands in a quality Brewers system. In its free scouting report, MLB.com lauds Burnes’ “lightning-quick arm,” adding that he offers a 92 to 95 mph fastball with “natural cutting action,” two impressive breaking pitches and a solid changeup.
It’s unclear whether Burnes will factor into the Brewers’ rotation in the short term, as Wade Miley is nearing a return from the DL and could join Junior Guerra, Chase Anderson, Jhoulys Chacin and Freddy Peralta to comprise their starting staff. Wilkerson started for the club Saturday, going five innings and allowing two earned runs in a loss to Atlanta. The defeat dropped the Brewers to a still-excellent 53-36, good for a 1 1/2-game lead in the NL Central. With Milwaukee looking like a strong playoff contender, it could further bolster its roster – including its rotation – in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, though the club does have potential pitching reinforcements on the way in Miley, Jimmy Nelson, Brent Suter and Zach Davies (all of whom are on the DL). Although, Nelson may not pitch until September, if at all, general manager David Stearns told Haudricourt and other reporters Sunday.
Cain, meanwhile, will act as a reinforcement for the Brewers’ position player group after missing nearly two weeks with a groin strain. He had gotten off to a tremendous start in the first season of a five-year, $80MM contract. The also-expensive Braun has been uncharacteristically ineffective, on the other hand, with a .235/.283/.427 line in 255 plate appearances. Injuries have been an all-too-common issue of late for Braun, who’s now dealing with a back strain.
Pina, the Brewers’ starting catcher, is heading to the shelf with a left biceps strain. He’s part of a Brewers backstop contingent that hasn’t offered much at the plate this year, as Pina has hit .227/.294/.376 in 214 PAs. Pina has thrown out 36 percent of would-be base stealers, however, and been a middle-of-the-pack pitch framer, per Baseball Prospectus. His absence will leave the Brewers with Erik Kratz and Nottingham as their two catchers.
As for Zagurski, he lasted under two weeks on Milwaukee’s 40-man before it designated him. The well-traveled 35-year-old has seen his first major league action since 2013 this season, though it hasn’t been pretty. In two appearances with the Brewers, Zagurski has combined for one inning and allowed seven earned runs on five hits and two walks.