Two Wisconsinites aim to be future Brewers

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers spring training practice. Image by Chris Mehring

Two Wisconsinites aim to be future Brewers

By Chris Mehring. CREATED Mar 26, 2014

I have been fortunate to be on the back fields of the Milwaukee Brewers complex in Maryvale to catch practice and see the guys fighting for a spot in the minors.

Fans in our state have reason to pull for two of the players I've seen to take the next step to becoming a Brewer and join the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

Wisconsin natives Josh Uhen and Charlie Markson have put in time with the Timber Rattlers on those outer diamonds for the last three weeks.  Both of them have a chance to play in their home state as soon as this season.

Markson, an outfielder, was asked jokingly if he was in the organization on the Craig Counsell Scholarship.  Markson played high school baseball at Whitefish Bay and went to college at Notre Dame. 

Counsell, who is now in the Brewers front office, also played at Whitefish Bay and Notre Dame.  He started his professional career after being drafted in the eleventh round of the 1992 draft by the Colorado Rockies and played in the major leagues in 1995 and from 1997 through 2011 - the final five years in Milwaukee.

Markson was a 38th round pick of the Brewers in 2013 and played in 46 games for the Helena Brewers, Milwaukee’s Pioneer League affiliate, to start his professional career.  Markson hit .286 with no homers and 21 RBI with Helena.  He has come into this year’s camp competing for a spot with the Rattlers.

“He knows the game, can play all three outfield positions, and he’s the grandpa of this working group with teenagers everywhere,” said Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson, a Wisconsin native, too. 

“[Markson has] been great with helping our young outfielders in different situations.  He’s had some good at bats and runs the bases well,” said Erickson.

Uhen, a pitcher out of UW-Milwaukee by way of Oshkosh North High School, was drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 draft by the Brewers.  Uhen is the highest draft pick in Milwaukee Panther baseball history.
The 2013 draft also marked the third straight year the Brewers have taken a Panther who is also a Wisconsin native.  In 2011, Fond du Lac native Chad Pierce was taken by the Brewers.  In 2012, Oak Creek’s Eric Semmelhack was picked by the Brewers.  Both Pierce and Semmelhack have pitched for the Timber Rattlers.

Uhen, a 6’-4” right-hander, pitched in the Arizona League after signing his contract last year.  He appeared in 14 games – six starts - and allowed 19 earned runs over went 37-2/3 innings.  Uhen struck out 31, but walked 23, and compiled a WHIP of 1.48 in those 14 games for the AZL Brewers.

“Uhen is interesting,” responded Erickson when asked about Uhen. 

“He’s an interesting guy,” Erickson repeated.  “I haven’t seen these guys pitch a ton, but I’ve seen him pitch twice and the ball comes out of his hand pretty nice.  He definitely has some hand speed and we’ll see where that takes us.”

Whether this training camp takes Uhen and Markson to Wisconsin in a week or at some point in the future remains to be seen.

Chris Mehring (@cmehring on Twitter) is the radio play-by-play voice of Appleton's Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.