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  • A Post-Season Review Of The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Standouts

    Harold Hutchison

    With a 62-68 record in the 2023 season, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers may seen like a bit of a disappointment. The club just about broke even, though: they scored 602 runs and allowed 605. Which players were the biggest standouts?

    Image courtesy of © Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK

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    Let’s look at some of this team’s best performers, some of whom have been largely overlooked as prospects.

    Joe Gray Jr.
    Gray mostly played in center field for the Rattlers, but was also in right field. He delivered power (29 extra-base hits in 402 at-bats) and added some significant speed (16 stolen bases) during his time in Appleton. He received a brief promotion to Double A in the middle of the season as well.

    Eric Brown Jr.
    Injuries cost Brown significant time in 2023, but when he was on the field, he was a sparkplug, posting a .362 OBP and 37 stolen bases in 245 at-bats. Brown was the Crew’s first-round pick in the 2022 draft, and will need to prove he can stay healthy.

    Ernesto Martinez
    Despite an early-season slump following a lost 2022 season, Martinez rebounded to deliver power (22 extra-base hits in 243 at-bats), speed (13 stolen bases) and OBP skills. Martinez has been overlooked when compared to other prospects, but could be an option for first base in 2025.

    Robert Moore
    The Brewers’ Competitive Balance Round B pick in 2022 has been very intriguing. While primarily playing second base, he was a capable fill-in at shortstop when Brown was injured. The switch-hitting Moore posted a .682 OPS over 490 at-bats in his first full professional season, delivering 44 extra base hits and adding 26 stolen bases.

    Tanner Shears
    Shears started the season with the Carolina Mudcats, but was promoted to Wisconsin, where he assumed a share of the closer’s role. He posted seven saves in 26 appearances covering 29 2/3 innings pitched for Appleton, with a 1.315 WHIP and a 1.52 ERA.

    Shane Smith
    Smith also started the season with the Mudcats, but grabbed a share of the Timber Rattlers closer's role, racking up six saves while pitching 26 1/3 innings and posting a 0.84 WHIP. Smith was signed by the Crew in 2022 after pitching in college.

    Max Lazar
    Lazar continued his comeback (after missing the entire 2021 season) by making the move to the bullpen, where he was an early-season mainstay for the T-Rats before earning a promotion to Biloxi. Lazar’s solid season of bullpen work followed an excellent performance out of the rotation in Brisbane in the 2022-2023 winter season.

    Justin King
    King brought pure heat to the bullpen in Appleton, striking out 15.8 hitters per nine innings in the 30 2/3 innings he pitched. While he only had one save, his 2.93 ERA marked a solid performance. King’s one weakness was allowing too many walks–7.3 every nine innings.

    Luis Amaya
    Amaya was an early-season find for the T-Rats, earning a promotion to Biloxi by posting a 2.41 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in Appleton over 37 1/3 innings. While he only garnered two saves, he did provide durability by going over two innings per outing prior to his promotion.

    Alex Hall
    Hall has been a longtime Brewers farmhand, and even made a brief appearance on the 40-man roster in 2022. But this year, in Wisconsin, the Aussie broke out offensively, tying Gray for the team lead in home runs. Hall always flashed OBP skills, but this year marked an interesting step forward, as he split time between catcher, first base, and left field.

    Who do you think were the biggest standouts for the Timber Rattlers in 2023?

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