Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
A big dip in performance for the community’s top pitching prospect
The community had sky-high hopes for Milwaukee Brewers RHP Zack Brown. In 2018, he’d shown the type of promise Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes had before him. Unfortunately, 2019 was not the follow up fans wanted.
In his AAA debut, Brown threw 116.2 innings with a 5.79 ERA and a 5.67 FIP. Compare that to his 2.44 ERA and 3.33 FIP in his 125.2 AA innings and it’s a huge dip in performance.
Likely the most significant change for Brown was his walk rate. In 2018, Brown limited his BB/9 to 2.58 and in 2017, it sat at 2.9. This season, it leapt to 4.94. Putting runners on for free is never good, but this was the wrong season to lose control at AAA.
Most pundits agree that the AAA ball was the same ball used in MLB. That means better ball flight and more home runs. You can see that in Brown’s 1.23 HR/9 when he’d never previously had a HR/9 above 0.82. Hitters also hit .342 on balls in play, which suggests some level of bad luck for Brown that led to even more runs scoring against him.
The solution for Brown’s 2020 season is simple on paper: throw strikes. His lack of control as a control pitcher led to awful outcomes and short outings. Even if the ball is juiced, he still needs to make his pitches and strictly wasn’t doing so. He’ll be 25 on Dec. 15, so he’s just approaching his prime. If he can find that control that led him to huge levels of success at AA, he could be making MLB debut.
What are your 2020 expectations for Brown? Do you see him returning to form? Let us know in the comments.