MILWAUKEE—The Brewers focused on pitchers in the early rounds of the 2010 draft, signing college righthanders Jimmy Nelson (second round), Tyler Thornburg (third), Matt Miller (fifth) and Austin Ross (eighth).
The Rookie-level Helena club reaped immediate benefits in riding that quartet to the Pioneer League title. Promoted en masse to low Class A Wisconsin this season, the group's low draft pick had found the most initial success.
A Louisiana State product, Ross went 5-1, 1.64 through his first eight appearances for the Timber Rattlers, totaling 48 strikeouts and 15 walks in 49 innings. The 22-year-old showed excellent command of the strike zone by allowing just 31 hits, while his .176 opponent average and 0.93 WHIP ranked among the Midwest League leaders.
Minor league pitching coordinator Lee Tunnell has been impressed with Ross, on and off the field.
"From the first time you meet him, he's very professional," Tunnell said. "He presents himself well, takes his job seriously and has a vision to be a major league pitcher. He's intelligent and focused.
"So if you ask if we are surprised by his success, no we are not surprised at all."
Ross throws his fastball in the 88-92 mph range, up a tick from his college days, and with great location. He has a solid slider and has shown improvement with his changeup, formerly a below-average pitch.
Ross pitched in relief at times with LSU and some scouts projected him as a middle reliever in the majors. But the Brewers are working on expanding his repertoire and believe his strong desire to improve will work in his favor.
"He comes to the ballpark every day looking to get better," Tunnell said. "He's having success for all the right reasons. He knows what he's doing out there.
"There are some things he still has to work on, as with any pitcher. He's learning how to control the running game and knows he has to keep working on his changeup.
"But you have to be impressed with the way he goes about his business. He's a guy who could move, level to level, and keep experiencing success."
• With shortstop Edwin Maysonet's return from the Triple-A Nashville disabled list, the Brewers released 37-year-old fill-in Luis Figueroa, who promptly signed with the Mets.
• The Brewers placed Nashville righthander Mark Rogers on the DL with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome that caused numbness in his fingers. In 15 innings he had allowed 21 hits, 22 walks and 23 runs.