Max Lazar Surpassing Expectations
Of all of the players in the Brewers’ system to take big leaps forward in the early stages of the 2019 season, Max Lazar stood out for many reasons.
For one thing, the 19-year-old righthander was pitching in the very chilly early spring environment of the low Class A Midwest League in Wisconsin, which isn't exactly the climate he grew up in back home in Coral Springs, Fla. But even more impressive was that Lazar was dominating hitters with good command of his fastball, changeup and curveball.
Through his first seven outings (four starts), the 2017 11th-round pick was 2-1, 1.61 with only eight walks and a whopping 43 strikeouts in 28 innings. He has been particularly tough on righthanded hitters, holding them to a .134 opponent average.
"For a young pitcher, Max really has show great composure on the mound, and he really competes,” Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan said. "He’s only 19 and he is doing very well in a challenging league.”
After pitching only 13.2 innings in the Rookie-level Arizona League following the 2017 draft, Lazar was assigned to Rookie-level Helena in 2018. The Brewers liked that he took the ball every time it was his turn, making 14 starts and going 3-3, 4.37 with 15 walks and 55 strikeouts in 68 innings. Lazar led the Pioneer League with a 1.31 WHIP and ranked among the league leaders in many other categories as well.
At 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, Lazar figures to get stronger as he matures, and the Brewers believe his velocity will continue to increase. But in the meantime, they couldn’t be happier with the progress Lazar has already made in the early stages of his career, especially for a player not currently ranked among their top prospects.
"Max has shown good command since we drafted him, as you can see by his walk-to-strikeout rates,” Flanagan said. "His fastball is in the upper 80s (mph) mostly, but he pitched up in the zone well with it. He has confidence in that pitch and is really working on his changeup and curveball. We think they will end up being good pitches for him.”
— Second baseman Keston Hiura became the first position player from the 2017 draft to make it to the major leagues when the Brewers called him up on May 14 in Philadelphia and put him in their starting lineup. The No. 9 overall pick in 2017, Hiura went 6-for-24 with a home run through his first six major league games.
— Righthander Drew Rasmussen, a sixth-round pick in 2018, is moving quickly through the system in his first professional season, going from low Class A Wisconsin to high Class A Carolina and then to Double-A Biloxi in a matter of weeks. Through his first 23.1 professional innings across three levels, Rasmussen is 0-0, 1.16 with 27 strikeouts and only five walks allowed.