MILWAUKEE—On assignment at the independent American Association all-star game in 2009, Brewers scout Tim Collinsworth spotted a slightly-built righthander who threw much harder than his body seemingly would allow.
"He saw the velocity and said we should sign this guy," general manager Doug Melvin said.
That guy was Brandon Kintzler, whom the Brewers purchased from the St. Paul Saints on July 24, 2009. They assigned him to Double-A Huntsville, where he ran up a 4.54 ERA over 36 innings.
The Brewers sent Kintzler back to Huntsville this season, but he produced remarkably different results. In fact, he did so well that in early June he earned a promotion to Triple-A Nashville, where the 26-year-old continued to shine as a late-inning reliever, notching 16 saves on the year.
Though he missed time with an oblique strain, Kintzler kept up the pace, going 4-0, 1.47 on the year with 44 strikeouts and seven walks over 49 innings. He allowed just 30 hits and only one home run, generating a strong 2.2 ground-to-flyout ratio. Opposing batters hit .171.
Curious to see Kintzler in person, the Brewers summoned him to the big leagues on Sept. 1. He's listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, but both measurements seem generous.
"I'm not sure he's 6-1," Melvin said. "But he's got a good arm."
So how does Kintzler generate 90-95 mph velocity? "I use my whole body," the Las Vegas native said. "It looks like I'm jumping off the mound. You've got to use your whole body when you're small."
It also helps to have a healthy arm, something Kintzler went without during the early stages of his amateur career. He pitched through elbow tendinitis at Dixie State (Utah) JC and fell to the Padres in the 40th round of the 2004 draft.
"I tried to fight through it," he said. "That probably cost me a lot in the draft."
The worst was yet to come. Kintzler's shoulder began bothering him in '06, prompting his release by San Diego in April, followed by season-ending surgery.
An acquaintance invited him to play for Winnipeg of the independent Northern League, where he pitched in '07 and '08. The Goldeyes granted Kintzler's trade request by sending him to St. Paul in '09, which led to his discovery by the Brewers.
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