Although it’s been a quiet offseason around baseball, as well as for the San Diego Padres, the Padres did make an acquisition earlier in the offseason in the signing of right-handed pitcher Colten Brewer on November 22.
Despite being signed as a minor league free agent, Brewer does have a pretty well-regarded draft pedigree, as the right-hander was drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite not pitching in the 2011 season because of injury, Brewer had a solid showing in his first taste of professional ball in 2012, marked by six starts and 25 innings in Rookie ball. Following that, injuries would keep Brewer out of professional baseball for much of 2013 and all of 2014. Despite three full years in the Pirates’ organization, Brewer only made nine starts and only threw 38 and two-thirds innings.
Despite his injury setbacks, Brewer came back healthy and threw 119 and a third innings as a starter in 2015 with a 4.90 ERA in Low-A ball. Brewer followed that healthy season with another mostly healthy season, during which he put up a 4.09 ERA in 70 and a third innings, operating mostly as a starter. Following the 2016 season, Brewer was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the New York Yankees, who apparently saw Brewer as an option out of the bullpen.
Coming off a solid season spent in High-A in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Brewer suddenly found himself in a new organization with the New York Yankees.
Despite finishing the 2016 season in High-A, Brewer began the season back in High-A with his new team. Over his nine and a third innings, Brewer struck out 15 batters with just one walk and did not give up any earned runs. Brewer then moved up to Double-A, where he appeared in 29 games and threw 41 and a third innings, in which he struck out 43 batters to just 11 walks with a 1.31 ERA. Following that performance, the Yankees decided to move Brewer up to Triple-A.
Despite his Double-A success, Brewer bombed in his Triple-A debut, giving up 13 earned runs in just 10 innings pitched. Following this performance, Brewer became a minor league free agent because of the Yankees 40-man roster crunch. On November 22, the Padres signed Brewer and designated right-hander Kyle Lloyd for assignment.
2018 Projection and Long-Term Outlook
Going into 2018, it’s pretty difficult to project Colten Brewer given his lack of big league experience.
Despite his Triple-A struggles, Brewer is almost guaranteed a spot in the Padres’ big league bullpen because of the major league contract he signed this offseason. If his Double-A numbers are any indication, Brewer looks to have the ability to run a high strikeout rate with a manageable walk rate.
The big question will be whether or not Brewer can limit the long ball like he did in his first two stops along the Yankee’s minor league ladder in 2017. With a low 90s fastball that plays up in the bullpen, and a low 80’s slider with some solid bite, Brewer has the tools to be a league average bullpen arm at the least. At 25 years old, and finally healthy, now is the time for Brewer to either sink or swim at the next level. And with a name like Brewer, how can he not succeed?