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Rivas, Scarpetta Among First Cuts

We’re only about 2.5 weeks away from Opening Day, and that means roster cutdowns are going to start coming in. The Brewers starting trimming their spring roster on Sunday, sending six players home — pitchers Amaury Rivas, Cody Scarpetta, Dan Merklinger, Robert Hinton, and Roque Mercedes, along with catcher Anderson De La Rosa.

Rivas was optioned to Triple A Nashville, likely putting him at the top of the minor league depth chart (assuming Mark Rogers and Manny Parra make the team out of camp). Merklinger and Scarpetta were optioned to Double A Huntsville, while Hinton, Mercedes, and De La Rosa were sent to minor league camp.

Other than Rivas, Scarpetta is probably the biggest name to keep an eye on out of this group. Due to an unusual contract situation, he has had to be on the Brewers’ 40-man roster the past few seasons. The Brewers are using his last option by sending him to Huntsville, which might make this season a make-or-break year for him. It’s possible he could be major league-ready by next season, but he’s going to need to have a breakthrough year, especially when it comes to his control. Scarpetta has always had big strikeout numbers in the minors (10.4 K/9) and the stuff to strike out big league hitters, but he’s also had the big walk numbers (4.6 BB/9) to match.

As the big league starters start working deeper into games and gradually build up their pitch counts, we’ll start to see more and more pitchers sent down. Considering there’s likely only one or two spots in the bullpen open to start the year, we probably won’t see many surprises. The most interesting thing to come out of these cuts will be seeing where some of these pitchers will start the year. Wily Peralta, for example, will probably be sent to Huntsville once Rogers shows he can handle starting, but don’t be surprised if you see him in Nashville after a couple months.