The Milwaukee Brewers went outside the organization twice to acquire a left-handed specialist in 2018 – first, signing Dan Jennings in April and then trading for Xavier Cedeno from the White Sox in late August. It appeared that the club had a homegrown lefty who was on his way to earning a look in the LOOGY role in 2019, but an unfortunate injury will now delay that potential debut for at least another year:
Big development from #Brewers farm system: LHP Quintin Torres-Costa, who had big year for @skysox, has undergone Tommy John surgery and will miss all of next season. Was one of players eligible for Rule 5 draft this winter. Injured in final series of year.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) October 23, 2018
Quintin Torres-Costa, who turned 24 last month, was a 35th-round pick by the Brewers out of Hawaii back in 2015. Despite his lowly draft stock, the southpaw has risen steadily through the ranks over the past four years. He began 2018 with AA Biloxi and after posting a splendid 1.16 ERA and 44:13 K/BB ratio in 31.0 innings covering 21 appearances, he was promoted to the AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox. The hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League didn’t put much of a damper on his run prevention totals, as Torres-Costa was able to produce a 1.50 ERA across 22 games pitched and an even 24.0 innings, though it came with a less impressive 21:12 K/BB ratio against the more advanced competition.
QTC was a tough customer for opposing southpaws to connect off of, as he held left-handed batters to a nifty .167/.287/.202 slash while pitching for the two affiliates. But it’s notable that he was even more difficult for right-handed hitters to handle this past season, keeping them at bay with a .133/.261/.143 batting line against. Torres-Costa does not rank among the club’s prospects, but did garner a mention from Eric Longenhagen in last year’s top prospect list from Fangraphs:
He’s a low-slot lefty with an upper-80s fastball and long, wiping slider. His stuff doesn’t look as though it should be that effective, and it will continue to be tested by a full season in the upper minors, but he was effective in the Arizona Fall League. Even a LOOGY would be a great outcome for a 35th-rounder.
Torres-Costa will be Rule 5 eligible for the first time this coming winter and prior to blowing out his elbow, had built a strong case for protection on the 40 man roster. But now that his recovery and rehab from elbow ligament reconstruction will knock him out for all of 2019, it seems unlikely that Milwaukee will seriously consider adding him to the roster. Even if he does go unprotected and gets selected by another team in the Rule 5 Draft, that team would need to keep him on their 40 man roster all winter, then put him on the 60-day DL when Spring Training begins and keep him there through all of the 2019 regular season (while paying him a big league salary), then keep him on the 40 man roster again next winter and before he’s able to get back on the mound again and get a legitimate shot at pitching in 2020.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs