The Brewers have signed right-hander Easton McGee and all-too-appropriately-named outfielder Brewer Hicklen to minor league contracts, reports Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. They’ll both be in major league camp during spring training, though McGee won’t be pitching, as he’ll still be rehabbing from last May’s Tommy John surgery. McCalvy further adds that McGee’s minor league deal is a two-year pact, so he’ll be in the Brewers system through at least the 2025 season.
McGee, 26 next month, appeared briefly in the big leagues with the 2022 Rays and 2023 Mariners, combining for 9 2/3 shutout innings. He fanned three hitters and walked just one during that time. He’s a soft-tosser by today’s standards, averaging 91.5 mph in ’22 and seeing that number drop to 90.1 mph prior to this past season’s surgery.
McGee was Tampa Bay’s fourth-round pick back in 2016, and though he doesn’t have power stuff or a history of elite run prevention in the upper minors (4.78 ERA in 141 Triple-A frames), he does boast outstanding command. He’s faced just shy of 2100 hitters since being drafted and walked only 4.6% of them. At 6’6″, his lanky frame likely helps his pedestrian fastball velocity play up a bit, and that standout command is difficult to develop in players. On what amounts to a no-risk minor league pickup for the Brewers, he’s a nice arm to stash in the system in hopes that he can eventually emerge as a back-end starter or perhaps a multi-inning reliever.
Hicklen, 28 in February, made his MLB debut with the 2022 Royals but went hitless in a minuscule sample of six plate appearances. He’s a 2017 seventh-round pick with a career .244/.348/.486 line at the plate in 853 Triple-A plate appearances.
While he didn’t hit for much power in 2023 (10 homers in 72 games), Hicklen popped 28 long balls with Kansas City’s Triple-A club in 2022 and has drawn praise for his plus-plus (70-grade) speed. Those wheels have been on display in Triple-A, where he’s swiped 56 bags in 61 tries. Overall, he’s stolen 186 bases in the minors with a hefty 85% success rate. He’s worked primarily in left field during his minor league career, but Hicklen has 1310 innings in right field and another 621 frames in center, so he’s capable of playing all three spots.