Crew adds 7 to active roster for stretch drive

After missing 2 seasons following elbow surgery, Williams says first callup 'kind of a surprise'

Crew adds 7 to active roster for stretch drive

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' callups when rosters expanded Friday included one notable surprise: Taylor Williams, the former top-15 Brewers prospect who missed two full seasons from 2015-16 and underwent Tommy John surgery, was summoned to the Major Leagues from Double-A Biloxi.

The Brewers also activated left-hander Brent Suter and catcher Andrew Susac from the 10-day disabled list and recalled outfielder Brett Phillips, left-hander Wei-Chung Wang and right-handers Junior Guerra and Brandon Woodruff from Triple-A Colorado Springs.

All of those players were already on Milwaukee's full 40-man roster, so no corresponding moves were required.

"It's a goal that I set, so I'd be lying if I said I didn't see it. Whether it was realistic or not, I worked every single day to try and get here," Williams said. "There were definitely a lot of ups and downs trying to get back to my regular form or trying to find a routine that worked so I could bounce back and respond well. I saw it a little bit, but it was still kind of a surprise. You put your head down every day and work to try and get better. Now I look up, and I'm here at Miller Park."

Williams, now 26, wowed teammates during his first big league Spring Training in 2015 with a power fastball and a wipeout slider, but it proved too much, too soon. He was sidelined with elbow discomfort by the end of camp, and when the injury did not respond to rehab, he underwent surgery in August.

After missing all of 2016, Williams returned to the mound at Double-A Biloxi and was used carefully. He pitched 22 times, including 14 starts, but logged just 46 2/3 innings, with 57 strikeouts and a 3.09 ERA. In his final six appearances, Williams surrendered two hits, no runs or walks, and he struck out 10. His most recent outing was Thursday night.

"Half the battle this year was being patient with the process," he said. "You really have to buy into the idea of taking it one step at a time. You can't really control how many pitches they'll let you throw or how many innings I'd go. But once I started buying into the idea, that didn't matter and things started going in my favor a little more."

"Taylor's here because he's earned the opportunity," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Taylor's had a tough story, but it's a story pitchers go through. Pitchers go through injuries, and there's serious injuries where you miss a lot of time. … He's a player that the arrow is pointing the right way. He's got a big fastball and we think he can help us in September."

In part because of his history, and because expanded rosters afford Counsell so many other options, the Brewers will continue a cautious approach to Williams' workload. They will wait until the offseason to decide whether he will start or relieve in 2018, general manager David Stearns said.

"He wouldn't be here if we didn't think he could help us," Stearns said.

As for the Brewers' other callups, Woodruff is scheduled to start Saturday against the Nationals, and Suter and Guerra are candidates for Sunday. Susac's return from a trapezius injury is well-timed, since the Brewers have only one other healthy catcher in Stephen Vogt. Manny Pina was scheduled to undergo more tests Friday for an injured right hip.

Phillips gives Counsell a left-handed outfield option, and Wang can serve as a lefty reliever alongside Josh Hader.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.