The Boston Red Sox have been quiet on the trade front thus far in the offseason, with one lone exception. Back on November 20th, the Red Sox sent infielder Esteban Quiroz to the San Diego Padres in exchange for right-handed relief pitcher Colten Brewer. Brewer spent the majority of his career in the minors but made a brief cameo in the majors during the 2018 season. The 26-year old is on the 40-man roster, but will he be in Boston on Opening Day?
Red Sox Prospects: Colten Brewer
2018 was a season to remember for Brewer, but in many ways, it was also a season to forget. Originally drafted in 2011 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Brewer finally got a taste of the majors after a strong season with the Padres AAA affiliate. Brewer pitched to the tune of a 3.75 ERA and a 2.93 FIP in 48 innings of minor league relief. He showed strikeout potential with his 11.81 K/9 rate and was good at keeping balls on the ground, as evidenced by his 55.8% ground ball rate. While he lacked a high ceiling, he did everything you’d want to see out of a potential middle-inning relief arm.
However, his time with the Padres was a serious disappointment. Brewer struggled against the advanced competition, giving up a 5.59 ERA while walking 6.52 batters per nine innings in his time in the majors. However, despite the terrible numbers, there’s plenty of reason to believe in Brewer as a prospect moving forward.
For one, this is a very small sample size. Brewer pitched just 9.2 innings in the pros, which is hardly anything. Additionally, his 3.26 FIP implies he was getting unlucky with batted balls. His walk rate, while terrible in the majors, was never a problem throughout his career. His 6.52 major league BB/9 was most likely an aberration caused by a small sample size and the nerves of facing big league hitting. It’s very common for a young prospect to struggle early in their major league career before adjusting to the competition. Just look at former Red Sox prospect Jalen Beeks.
Brewer is similar to a lot of Red Sox pitchers when looking at his pitch tool. The newest Red Sox is a two-pitch guy, utilizing his cutter and his curveball as his primary offerings. His cutter sits in the low 90’s but reportedly has the potential to reach the mid 90’s. His curveball, meanwhile, sits in the low 80’s and features a hard break. Neither pitch is electric, so his ceiling is somewhat limited. However, they both possess decent movement and decent command.
What To Work On
As far as progression, there really isn’t much for Brewer to work on. At 26 years, Brewer basically is what he is. There’s nothing he can do to become an elite closer, but he’s also shown enough to prove he belongs, at the very least, on the 40-man roster.
The next step for Brewer is proving he can do it against major league pitching. He has the skillset to stick in the majors but has yet to show that ability on the mound. He’ll certainly have his opportunity to that this year in an uncertain bullpen. Basically, at the moment he’s a high floor, low ceiling prospect who doesn’t have much projection left.
Brewer will definitely be with the Red Sox at some point in the season, the only question is when. The Sox traded for him and are using a spot on the 40-man roster on him, so they clearly believe in his ability. His AAA numbers show he can survive in the majors, even if his ceiling is somewhat low.
Brewer making the opening day roster depends on a lot of factors outside of his control. If the season started today, he’d probably make it. However, the Red Sox have yet to dive into free agency, and they’ll almost certainly add a reliever or two. The Sox have expressed interest in bringing back Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly, and there are interesting options like Dave Robertson, Andrew Miller, and Zach Britton available on the market.
The Red Sox have never shied away from free agency, so Brewer will probably battle with guys like Bobby Poyner and Brandon Workman for the last spots on the roster. However, even if he doesn’t make it on Opening Day, Brewer will probably be one of the first call-ups once injury inevitably strikes.