Zack Brown says he looks forward to throwing a baseball for Milwaukee later this summer.
The Seymour High School graduate who then pitched for the University of Kentucky Wildcats was drafted by Milwaukee in 2016 and has been pitching in the Brewers organization ever since.
Last year, he pitched for San Antonio in the Pacific Coast League and had a record of 3-7 with an ERA of 5.79 in 25 games. The Missions had a record of 80-60 and finished second in the PCL’s Southern Division.
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“I’ll hit the ground running,” he said. “I’m trying to get as much information as I can.”
Brown, 25, is 6-foot-1 and weighs about 200 pounds. His career minor league mark is 20-17 with a 3.80 earned run average. He was pointing to make a move to the majors this year until spring training and the entire sport were sidetracked.
Staying in communication with his agent and the Brewers’ players representative, Brett Suter, Brown said when the owners and the players union reach an agreement to resume the start of the sport, the teams will train at their respective ballparks.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in mid-March, and all sports, including Major League Baseball’s spring training, came to a halt.
Brown was with the Brewers in spring training in Phoenix, Arizona, and returned to Seymour in early April. He has been throwing every Tuesday and Friday to be prepared whenever Major League Baseball summons players back to their teams.
“We’re at a point now where I’ve got to get some ups and downs against live hitters and simulate some innings, so I’ve been going 20-pitch warmup and then 20-pitch innings where it was three outs, or five hitters, or whatever,” he said. “The other day, I did a simulated three innings just trying to stay as ready as I can to go deep into games.”
Brown faced live batters, including Alan Perry and other athletes from Seymour.
“It has been good to have some guys (batting),” Brown said.
The coronavirus couldn’t have come at a worse time for Brown, who felt like he had made a lot of progress this spring and had better command of his pitches.
“I felt like I was getting ready to go and rebound from the season last year,” he said. “I felt it was a really good spring training. I threw six innings in the big league games. I felt like I was executing what I was working on this spring, which was is a good thing, and I’ve been healthy, which is the big thing. I wanted to stay healthy and get ready for the season.”
He faced the Los Angeles Angels twice and San Diego Padres once in those outings.
“The big thing for me was commanding the strike zone a little bit better after the struggles last year and really honing in on the breaking ball,” he said.
Brown said he feels like he is better spotting his pitches.
“It will go in and out,” he said. “Last year, it was out for a long time, and it was very frustrating. This spring, I felt I was pretty solid getting in the strike zone or making pitches look like a strike for as long as possible and getting some swings and misses.”
Brown is prepared to head to Milwaukee.
“If we do come back, it looks like we’ll be back in Milwaukee, and we’ll be in our home cities to work out, so I’ll have that,” he said. “My goal is to just get back in the swing of things and get that routine going and make every day the same as much as I can.”
Brown said he is relying on four main pitches: A four-seam fastball, a sinker, a change-up and a slider. He said it is important to throw all pitches with the same motion to not tip his pitches.
“I need to keep everything the same to throw off hitters,” he said.
Major league rosters have been expanded from 25 players in the past to 26 players this season, and there was talk going around that the rosters may be expanded to 27 or 28 players.
There will not be any minor league baseball this season.
Brown said he has heard the players who don’t make big league rosters will have games against extra players from other teams, and for the Brewers, that means games against Minnesota and the Chicago Cubs and White Sox.
“All I can worry about is staying healthy and staying ready,” Brown said. “I’ve got to be prepared for anything. This whole experience has been frustrating, but it has been a good experience for down the road and see how the business side works a little bit more. There is still a lot to be decided.”