The Biloxi Shuckers, Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, announced their initial roster for the 2021 campaign on Monday. The roster is headlined by four of the Brewers Top 20 Prospects and features two of the Brewers last three first-round draft picks.
Pitchers: Cody Beckman, Luis Contreras, Jake Cousins, Leo Crawford, Bowden Francis, Matt Hardy, J.T. Hintzen, Robbie Hitt, Nathan Kirby, Ethan Small (#4), Peter Strzelecki, Zach Vennaro, Braden Webb, Noah Zavolas.
Catchers: Jhonnys Cabrera, Payton Henry (#19).
Infield: Daniel Castillo, Cam Devanney, Lucas Erceg, Tyler Friis, David Fry, Gabriel Garcia, Brice Turang (#2).
Outfield: Ryan Aguilar, Jesus Lujano, Tristen Lutz (#12), Alexander Palma
See the full roster here.
Headlining the pitching staff is lefty Ethan Small, the Brewers’ first-round pick in 2019. Small is rated as the #4 prospect in the Brewers’ organization according to MLB Pipeline and Baseball America. A native of Jackson, TN, Small returns to the Magnolia State after pitching with Mississippi State from 2016-2019 where he won SEC Pitcher of the Year in his final year with the Bulldogs in 2019.
Brewers’ 2018 first-round pick Brice Turang, who is rated as the #2 prospect in the Brewers’ organization by MLB Pipeline and #1 prospect by Baseball America, will hold down the middle infield for the Shuckers to start 2021. The shortstop split time between Single-A Wisconsin and High-A Carolina in 2019, slashing .256/.367/.340 with 19 doubles, six triples, three home runs and 37 RBI.
Tristen Lutz, the Brewers’ #12 prospect, is one of the centerpieces of the Shuckers initial outfield. Taken with the 34th overall pick in the Competitive Balance Round by the Brewers in 2017, Lutz played in 112 games with Carolina in 2019, mashing 24 doubles and 13 home runs while driving in 54.
Behind the plate, Payton Henry will be one of the two catchers on the roster to start the 2021 campaign. Henry is rated as the #19 prospect in the Brewers’ system by MLB Pipeline and slashed .242/.315/.395 with 22 doubles, 14 home runs and 75 RBI with Carolina in 2019. He was awarded the MiLB Gold Glove for catchers in 2018 after playing 98 games with Wisconsin. All four prospects spent 2020 at the Brewers Alternate Training Site in Appleton, WI.
The Shuckers projected starting rotation features Small, RHP Bowden Francis, RHP Luis Contreras, RHP Noah Zavolas and LHP Leo Crawford. Francis returns to Biloxi after making 25 of his 28 appearances with the Shuckers in 2019. The righty struck out 145 batters in 128.1 innings, the second-most strikeouts in a single season in Shuckers’ history. Contreras, who signed with the Brewers out of independent ball in 2019, made one appearance for the Shuckers in 2019, closing out Biloxi’s franchise-record 82nd win on Labor Day against Birmingham.
Zavolas joins Biloxi after earning Carolina League Pitcher of the Year honors with the Mudcats in 2019. Acquired by the Brewers in a trade with the Mariners before the 2019 season, Zavolas went 6-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 22 appearances with Carolina in 2019. Rounding out the starting staff is Crawford, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2020 offseason to complete the trade for Corey Knebel. Between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa in 2019, Crawford went 7-4 with a 2.81 ERA, striking out 134 batters in 121.2 innings.
In the bullpen, Cody Beckman and Nathan Kirby are the Shuckers two lefties, while righties Jake Cousins, Matt Hardy, J.T. Hintzen, Robby Hitt, Peter Strzelecki, Zach Vennaro and Braden Webb make up the rest of the relief corps. Kirby, a Competitive Balance Round A Pick out of Virginia in 2015, returns to the mound for the first time since 2018. Flamethrowers Cousins and Vennaro joined the Brewers out of the independent ranks in 2019 while Beckman, Hardy, Hintzen, Hitt and Strzelecki all logged time with Carolina in 2019. Webb has previous experience in Biloxi, primarily starting for the Shuckers at the end of the 2018 season and beginning of the 2019 campaign.
In the infield, David Fry and Lucas Erceg return to the Shuckers, while Daniel Castillo, Cam Devanny, Gabriel Garcia and Turang will make their Double-A debut with the Shuckers. Tyler Friis, who signed with the Brewers in late April, will make his first appearance in the Brewers’ system after reaching Double-A Akron in the Cleveland Indians organization in 2019.
Fry joined the Shuckers for three games during the Southern League Championship Series while Erceg returns to Biloxi as a two-way player in 2021 after serving as the Shuckers’ primary third baseman in 2018. The left-handed hitter will also spend time as a right-handed pitcher for Biloxi.
Castillo, Devanny and Garcia will all bypass High-A on their way to Biloxi. After signing as an international free agent with the Brewers in 2017 out of Venezuela, Castillo spent 2018 in the Dominican Summer League before playing in 40 games with the Arizona League Brewers in 2019. Taken in the 15th round of the 2019 draft, Devanny played in 61 games between the Arizona League Brewers and Rocky Mountain Vibes in 2019. Garcia, a 14th round pick in the 2016 Draft out of Broward, spent all of 2018 and 2019 with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Joining Henry behind the plate will be Jhonnys Cabrera, the youngest member of the Shuckers roster at 18 years old. An international signing out of Venezuela, Cabrera appeared in 53 games in the Dominican Summer League in 2019, hitting .273 while notching 20 RBI and scoring 37 runs.
Rounding out the roster in the outfield are Ryan Aguilar, Lutz, Jesus Lujano and Alexander Palma. Aguilar appeared in 24 games with the Shuckers in 2019, and despite his promotion to Double-A still led the Carolina League in on-base percentage (.403) and OPS (812). Signed by the Brewers out of Venezuela in 2015, Lujano was a Midwest League All-Star in 2019 and will be 22 years old when the season starts. Finally, Palma comes to the Brewers after spending seven seasons in the Yankees organization, primarily playing for the High-A Tampa Tarpons in 2019.
The Shuckers open their 2021 season on May 4 in Birmingham against the Barons at 7:05 pm. The game can be heard live on Cruisin’ WGCM AM 1240/FM 100.9 and online. Biloxi’s home opener comes on May 11 at 6:35 pm against the Mississippi Braves at MGM Park. Individual tickets to all 60 Shuckers’ home games are available for purchase now at biloxishuckers.com or by clicking here. Full Shuck Nation Memberships,Half Shell Shuck Nation Memberships, flex plans and group outing are also available by calling 228-233-3465.
ABOUT THE BILOXI SHUCKERS:
The Biloxi Shuckers are the Double-A Affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Shuckers play at MGM Park in Biloxi, Mississippi. For more information, please visit biloxishuckers.comand follow us on Twitter @biloxishuckers and at facebook.com/biloxishuckers.