Tucker Neuhaus has become a bit of a staple at Fox Cities Stadium since being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the second round of the 2013 MLB Draft. But it’s more than baseball that has the Timber Rattlers second baseman feeling at home here.
Although Neuhaus went to high school in Tampa, Florida, his family has Midwestern roots. He grew up in Minnesota, and his grandma lives in Green Bay. Neuhaus even grew up a Packers fan. His dad, Ken, played at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and was a scout for the Reds, so he’ll drop some knowledge from time to time - whether Neuhaus wants it or not.
"A couple years ago, I was struggling. He told me to back off the plate a little bit, and for the next month I did really well, hit .300, so I was like, all right, I guess he was right," Neuhaus said. "You know how it can be though with a parent trying to telling you what to do. It can get old after a while. But I definitely listen to what he has to say."
In his third season with the Rattlers, Neuhaus has shown a more consistent side to his bat. He leads the team in a handful of offensive categories (13 home runs, 26 doubles, 47 RBI and 79 hits). His .245 batting average is No. 2 among current Timber Rattlers, second only to recent addition Keston Hiura.
Credit that success to a more chill approach to the game and a resurrection of his childlike passion for the game, lessons he learned while playing winter ball in Australia with the Sydney Blue Sox, where Neuhaus did more than catch up on at-bats he missed while injured last season.
"That was by far the best experience of my life. The baseball was really relaxed," he said. "Obviously you can have a bunch of fun here, but that just really gave me a different perspective on baseball and kind of took it back to almost a childhood love for the game."
The Brewers’ farm system was ranked No. 5 in the league by MLB.com, a major focus in the organization’s rebuilding process. And Tucker says that’s evident every day he’s in the Wisconsin clubhouse.
"Being able to play with guys who, chances are, are going to have successful careers in the major leagues, whether I’m there with them or not, I think it’ll be cool just to look back," Neuhaus said. "And especially just the competitive atmosphere. You’re just an organization where you’re competing with other guys but it’s fun because we all feed off each other and you’re with a bunch of good players, which I think rises your game."
And as Tucker’s game and impact grow, there’s a noticeable difference in the 22-year-old today versus the fiery 19-year-old who arrived in Wisconsin back in April 2015.
"He’s led by example. He’s not a huge rah rah guy or a very outspoken guy," said Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson. "You can see that he’s pretty calm, pretty collected when it comes to competition. He’s been there before, he has more experience than most of the guys we have on our roster."
"Just I’ve matured a lot on and off the field," Neuhaus said. "At the end of the day, it’s baseball, whether it’s playing in the big leagues or playing little league, we need to remember that it’s baseball and we should have as much fun with it as we can."
Tucker was placed on the seven-day disabled list Saturday after leaving Friday’s game with what looked like a left knee injury. He was in the dugout for Sunday's game with crutches.