The Brewers announced Thursday morning that they’ve signed catcher Jakson Reetz, outfielder Garrett Whitley and right-hander Moises Gomez to minor league contracts. All three received invitations to Major League Spring Training as well.
Reetz, 26 next month, made his big league debut with the Nationals in 2021, appearing in two games and collecting a double for his first (and, to date, only) Major League hit. A third-round pick by the Nats back in 2014, Reetz ranked among Washington’s top 30 prospects at Baseball America each year from 2015-21, topping out at No. 14 (2015-16) and ranking No. 25 heading into the 2021 season.
While he’s regarded as a solid defender thanks to his receiving and pitch-blocking skills, Reetz has yet to hit much in pro ball. He posted a combined .189/.297/.317 slash in 300 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A this past season and carries a career .230/.347/.355 batting line through 472 minor league games in total. Reetz showed some promise with a .253/.370/.441 and 13 homers in High-A back in 2019, but his return to competitive play and debuts in Double-A and Triple-A this past season didn’t go well from an offensive standpoint.
Whitley, 25 in March, has an even loftier draft status. Selected with the No. 13 overall pick by the Rays back in 2015, Whitley ranked among the top-10 farmhands (per BA) in a perennially loaded Rays system each year from 2016-18. Whitley hit .255/.370/.510 and walked at a 12.6% clip in 237 Double-A plate appearances this past season, but he also whiffed in 28% of his trips to the plate at that level. He struggled mightily upon a bump to Triple-A, where he hit just .172/.269/.301 and fanned in a third of his 108 plate appearances (against a diminished 8.3% walk rate).
Like Reetz, Whitley has drawn positive reviews for his defensive skills. He’s a center fielder touted for 60- or even 70-grade speed (on the 20-80 scale) with an above-average throwing arm. Large strikeout rates have plagued him throughout his minor league tenure, even as he’s generally walked at a strong clip. In all, Whitley is a .234/.343/.407 career hitter in pro ball.
Gomez, who’ll turn 25 in February, split the 2021 season between the Mariners’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, pitching well for the former but being hit hard with the latter. The gap between Gomez’s 1.23 ERA in 29 1/3 Double-A frames and 5.94 ERA in 16 1/3 Triple-A innings might not be as great as one would expect, however.
Gomez actually posted better strikeout and walk percentages in Triple-A (23.7% and 5.3%, respectively) than in Double-A (21.2%, 5.9%). However, the righty was blown up for a sky-high .392 average on balls in play during his brief run with Triple-A Tacoma, and his left-on-base percentage fell from 87% to 57.9%. A drop of that magnitude in strand rate is only natural when so many balls in play are falling for hits. The results in Triple-A certainly don’t look appealing, but Gomez has an upper-90s heater and has never posted an ERA north of 3.30 at any minor league level outside of last year’s 13-game cup of coffee in Triple-A.