The competition is stellar, but right-hander Charles Brewer is ready to contend at this and a higher level.
Right now in the Arizona Fall League, Brewer, at 6-4, 205, is refining skills and tightening his concentration level for an opportunity next spring. That would mean making the jump in the Diamondbacks organization from AA Mobile to Chase Field, but Brewer’s infectious enthusiasm and determination could make him a serious candidate for a roster spot next March.
Despite a broken hand in June while pitching for AA Mobile, and a rehab period at Salt River, Brewer, who is 23 years old, was able to rejoin the Bay Bears late in the season, and help capture the Southern League title. One mission accomplished, and now it’s on to Chase Field.
The injury prevented Brewer from pitching his desired 175-180 innings, but he still recorded a 5-1 season in 11 starts and a commendable 2.58 ERA. A 12th round pick of the Diamondbacks in the 2009, Brewer says he’s past the injury, and ready for that jump.
“The jump” is a ticket to The Show, and the way D-backs general manger Kevin Towers has structured the organization, Brewer has a formidable challenge ahead. Because Towers stockpiled the organization with solid pitching, Brewer will have to compete against Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Bauer, Jarrod Parker, David Holmberg, Kevin Munson, Wade Miley and whatever off-season acquisitions Towers can deliver. That’s in addition to Josh Collmenter, who used a 4-0 record in the Arizona Fall League last year to gain Towers’ attention.
Still, Brewer says he is in the process of making adjustments to face stiffer competition than at the AA level, but admits the road ahead will be difficult.
“It comes down to execution,” he said. “I know I need to focus and what happens will likely be based on execution.”
For now, Brewer is part of the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, and has the luxury of having his Mobile pitching coach Dan Carlson as his pitching coach with the Rafters. Among his teammates from the Diamondbacks organization are infielders David Nick and Ryan Wheeler, outfielder Adam Eaton and pitchers Eric Smith, Bryan Woodall and Munson.
With only 11 games last season at AA and 44 games over the previous two years at Missoula (Rookie League), South Bend (A) and Visalia (A), Brewer says competition in the Arizona Fall League is far and away the best he has faced, and clearly an important step forward.
“The Fall League blows away AA,” he said. “By far, this is best competition I’ve ever faced. All of these players hit high in the order of their teams, and ready to take the next step. Here, you take ‘the student of the game’ mentality to another level, and there‘s so much attention to detail.”
Unusual for a younger pitcher, Brewer says his out-pitch is the curve, and here in the Fall League, he’s developed a cutter. Through his fast ball is in the low 90s, Brewer admits “I am not a power pitcher.” Development of the cutter and curve becomes essential, he pointed out.
Plus, it certainly helps to have your old pitching coach around.
“There’s no building a relationship and trust is inherit,” said Carlson, who‘s been with the Diamondbacks organization for 11 years. “So, it makes teaching easier. What’s impressive about Charles is he leaves no stone unturned. You notice immediately his work ethic and determination.”
Brewer was off to a shaky start in the Fall League and allowed 12 runs, 10 earned in his first 9 2/3 innings. He attributes that to a slow adjustment of better hitters and higher personal expectations.
In his last start last Friday Oct. 21 against the Peoria Javelinas, Brewer settled down, allowed five hits, one run in 4 ½ innings, and pronounced himself ready for the next step. Now, it’s finishing strong in the Fall League, which ends Nov. 17, and repairing to facilities at Salt River for off-season conditioning.
A native of Scottsdale, who went 33-0 at Chaparral High School and helped the Firebirds to three state titles, Brewer said he would like nothing better than to pitch in his home town.
“After the season they had, that would be a blast,” he smiled. “That’s my goal and, to get there, I want to be the best pitcher I can be.”
FIRST HONOR FOR GIBBY
Diamondbacks skipper Kirk Gibson was named National League Manager-of-Year by The Sporting News on Oct. 24.
At the same time, the publication also named Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays as the American League Manager-of-the-Year.
Named as the D-backs interim field manager on July 1, 2010, Gibson was given a two contract just after the 2010 season, and responded with a division title and a trip to post-season play.
For a team which lost 97 games the year before, Gibson’s intensity and competitive baseball personality was eagerly embraced by his players and that translated into wins. In the process during 2011, the Diamondbacks came from behind 48 times to win games, and that was the most in the major leagues. By the end of the season, the Diamondbacks completely transformed their image and production.
Their 94-68 record took the National League West Division title, and a trip to the NL Division Series against Milwaukee.
Voting, for the Spoerting NEws publication, was done by 23 major league managers. Twelve AL managers voted for the AL manager of the year; 11 NL managers chose the NL manager of the year.
The more prestigious Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of American will be announced on Wednesday Nov. 16.
MORE ON D-BACKS IN THE ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
Diamondback players continue to make contributions to the Rafters.
Outfielder Adam Eaton, the D-backs 19th round pick in the 2010 first Year Player Draft and third baseman Ryan Wheeler, the 5th round pick in 2009, were tied for second on the Rafters in hitting, each with a .333 average through the team’s first 12 games.
Second baseman David Nick, the team’s 4th round pick in 2009, was hitting .314 after 12 games. Reliever Bryan Woodall (4-4, 3.43, 4 saves at AA Mobile) had a 7.88 ERA in his first six appearances, right-hander Eric Smith (5-13, 6.35 in 28 starts for A Visalia) was 1-0, 2.00 ERA in five appearances, and right-hander Kevin Munson (4th round pick in 2010), was 1-0, 1.23 ERA in seven appearances.