New Slider Helps Brewers' Robert Gasser Grip New Possibilities
The Brewers had interest in lefthander Robert Gasser in the 2021 draft but selected another lefthander instead, taking Texas Christian's Russell Smith with the 51st overall pick.
Twenty picks later, the Padres drafted Gasser out of the University of Houston to close the compensatory second round.
A little more than a year later, Milwaukee acquired Gasser as part of the three-player package it received for Josh Hader trade.
“I was really excited,” said Gasser, who turns 24 in May. “Knowing what the Padres were looking to do that year, I had a feeling that I was potentially going to be traded. It was a team that really wanted me, and they saw a lot of the positive stuff that I could bring.”
Gasser's 2022 season began at High-A Fort Wayne, where he made 18 starts before being dealt by the Padres.
He made four starts for Double-A Biloxi and then closed out with five more for Triple-A Nashville. On the season he recorded a 3.94 ERA in 27 starts, with 172 strikeouts and 52 walks in 137 innings.
“I honestly didn’t pitch my best in Nashville last year,” Gasser said, adding former Sounds teammate and now current Brewers player development assistant Josh Lindblom helped guide him through the ups and downs.
Gasser showed enough that Milwaukee gave him his first invitation to big league camp this spring, though he ultimately will return to Nashville.
The key has been Gasser’s nasty slider, a pitch that he perfected last spring with the Padres.
“Rob Marcello (San Diego’s director of pitching) came in and he brought a bunch of different grips,” he said. “One day before a live BP, he showed me one and next thing you know I was throwing it and it was nasty. And I didn't look back from there.”
Considering the Brewers' dearth of lefty relievers, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Gasser debut in the bullpen at some point in 2023 with an eventual landing spot in the rotation potentially as soon as 2024.
— Lefthander Ethan Small was moved to the bullpen this spring with the hope of helping him rediscover his command and confidence.
He closed 2022 with six straight appearances out of the bullpen after making his MLB debut earlier in the season.
“It felt like the strike zone didn't exist for me, honestly. I just couldn't find it,” Small said. “In the bullpen, everything shortened up and tightened up. I threw a little harder, too, so I'm trying to carry that momentum into this camp.”
— Catcher Jeferson Quero received an invitation to big league camp as a non-roster invitee, a sign of just how highly the Brewers think of the 20-year-old.
“He's 20 years old but he's a very exciting player. He's kind of mature beyond his years, and he's capable of being here,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He should be in this camp.”