Ethan Small.jpeg

Ethan Small

Ethan Small is the Milwaukee Brewers’ top pitching prospect and the ace of the Nashville Sounds pitching staff.

Small, who leads the Sounds in ERA (1.95), strikeouts (46) and opposing batting average (.149), has been Nashville’s tone-setting arm this year, earning the opening-day start back in April and allowing one earned run or fewer in every one of his 2022 starts but one.

His red-hot start has caught the attention of many, including Brewers manager Craig Counsell. Small has a 3-1 record through seven starts, and he has allowed the fewest hits (17), runs (nine), earned runs (seven) and home runs (one) of any Sounds starter this year.

Milwaukee already has a solid starting rotation of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer, plus former Sounds star Aaron Ashby working as an occasional sixth starter.

The Brewers have 15 combined quality starts (six innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs allowed) in 33 outings, and they lead MLB with 382 strikeouts, have allowed the second-fewest hits (257), and rank third in opposing batting average (.214) and ninth in team ERA (3.50). So, there’s no need to rush Small to the majors. 

But if the former Mississippi State hurler keeps dominating Triple-A competition, Milwaukee may have no choice but to call him up.

“Ethan’s in a spot where he’s close to where he could impact us at any time,” Counsell told Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The Triple-A guys you probably keep the closest watch on. Obviously, he’s got status being a first rounder. We’ve got a pretty good thing going on starting pitching-wise, so it’s not like him or anyone has to worry about having a bad start. He’s in a good space. He’s doing well.”

Small, the 28th overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft, has put together a solid resume since joining the Sounds in 2021. In 16 career starts at the Triple-A level, he has a 5-1 record with a 2.00 ERA, 70 strikeouts, 42 walks, and a 1.27 WHIP. Small has allowed just 15 earned runs over 67.1 innings, and he averaged 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

Through three seasons in the minor leagues, Small has a 1.79 ERA to go with 174 strikeouts, a 1.14 WHIP, and seven wins. At Mississippi State, Small was named the 2019 SEC Pitcher of the Year after leading the NCAA with 176 strikeouts over 107 innings.

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_