Minors | General | 6/3/2015

All-Americans making strides

Colin Brown        
Photo: Perfect Game

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – With three Perfect Game All-Americans on the roster, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers entered Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night, May 26 with young talent ready to emerge. Although early season struggles have set the Timber Rattlers back, the team is now looking towards its talented prospects for a much needed spark on the road.

As their series concluded against the Cedar Rapids Kernels – a team with three former PG All-Americans of their own to open the season in Nick Gordon, Stephen Gonsalves and Brian Navaretto – on Thursday night, that’s exactly what they got from their ace, a pitching performance that garnered a much needed win.

The ace of the Timber Rattlers staff, Kodi Medeiros, was a first-round selection of the Brewers in the 2014 MLB Draft. A hard throwing southpaw, Medeiros has been solid over the course of the season thus far although his stats may not reflect it. With a 2-2 record that has been highlighted by his two winning appearances, Medeiros provided seven strong in both outings, not allowing an earned run in either performance.

While some may believe Medeiros has looked average on the mound to this point, Thursday night at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids he was anything but, pitching seven scoreless innings against the Kernels while only allowing two hits and striking out five. With last night’s win marking the first W in nine tries against Cedar Rapids this season, the Timber Rattlers headed home capping an 11-game road trip which they finished 5-6.

Over the course of the night Medeiros looked as advertised. He was efficient, strong, and had the ability to command numerous pitches around the strike zone.

I felt good,” Medeiros said. “Our offense scored early, so that made it easy for me to focus on throwing strikes.”

The Brewers prospect was untouchable at certain points, especially after the second inning when he really seemed to settle in. With the Rattlers pushing the lead to 4-0 in the fourth, Medeiros put the clamps on the Kernels, not allowing another hit through his seven innings of work.

With the Wisconsin bullpen picking up where Medeiros left off, the rest was history as the team put away Cedar Rapids, ending the road trip with a 6-0 victory.

With five more strikeouts on Thursday night, Medeiros’s 52 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings of work ranks third in the Midwest league. He also has fewer innings pitched than either of the two pitchers ahead of him.

The 19-year old Hawaii native was also a 2014 Perfect Game All-American who, in a Perfect Games scout’s words, “was unhittable and someone who can flat out pitch.” With a fastball that touches 95 mph and an excellent breaking ball, it was easy to see why Medeiros was a first-round selection and someone the Brewers hope rises through the ranks quickly.

Although he is now stationed in Low-A Wisconsin, Medeiros says his time pitching for Perfect Game and the Timber Rattlers has been something he’ll never forget.

I’ll always be thankful for the people who helped me along the way. Whether it was in back home or here in Wisconsin. I’ve learned a lot that I will take with me wherever I go”

As the 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Medeiros’s reported signing bonus was two million dollars, which is an under-slot deal for where he was picked. With the 12th pick supposed to receive around $2.8 million, Medeiros took a pay cut so the Brewers could sign the other players they drafted early, including fellow 2013 PG All-Americans Monte Harrison and Jake Gatewood.

Although Medeiros was the Brewers first pick in the 2014 draft, taking the pay cut shows his maturity and willingness to win at a young age, something not all 19-year olds have. With electric stuff on the mound added to a positive attitude on and off the field, it seems like the Brewers have a future star in the making.

While Medeiros is the undisputed leader of the Timber Rattlers organization and one of the top prospects in the Brewers farm system, the two other Perfect Game All-Americans that were also drafted by the Brewers in 2014 also show incredible promise.

Monte Harrison, a standout high school football star, was the team's second round pick last year. As a high school senior, Harrison showed off his athletic ability by becoming one of the top football recruits in the state of Missouri while also moving his way up MLB Draft boards. As the summer approached, Harrison decided to forego college and sign with the Brewers.

Starting his first full year as a professional in Wisconsin, Harrison has struggled at the plate but has begun to pick it up of late, possibly taking a little longer than expected to settle into his new role. A sweet swing accompanied by a sense of ease when fielding his position, Harrison is looking as if he has the goods to become a special player once he puts it all together.

I just go out there and let the game come to me,” Harrison said. “You can’t press too hard or you won’t succeed. Baseball is a game of failure.”

With baseball savvy combined with great raw talent, Harrison should come along as the season moves into the summer months.

Another the third Perfect Game All-American on the Timber Rattlers is shortstop Jake Gatewood. A first round selection in last June’s amateur draft, Gatewood has been the Rattlers' everyday shortstop for the entire 2015 campaign to this point.

Looking strong defensively, Gatewood should also start to shake off his early struggles at the plate as the season heats up. With major power potential, Gatewood is also a tremendous athlete who was showing off his range at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium where he tracked down four or five hard hit balls that seemed to be making their way towards a hole on the infield.

When asked about the exposure he received through Perfect Game, and how Perfect Game helped develop his skills, Gatewood replied with gratefulness.

I got a lot of exposure and publicity playing for Perfect Game,” Gatewood said. “They helped me get my name out there and transform myself into an all-around better player.”

With a 6-0 shutout win last Thursday, the Timber Rattlers headed home on a positive note. While Medeiros is pitching well, the feeling seems to be that Wisconsin is forming an identity of playing small ball on the offensive side compiled with power pitching and smart/efficient defense on the other.

As the season rolls on, Wisconsin will become home to three super talents who have the ability to perform at major levels. All we can do now is sit back and wait for them to round into form.

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