Prospects making impact in Brewers' camp
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
PHOENIX--More so than probably any other time in Brewers history, a large crop of highly touted prospects has made a noticeable impact during spring camp.
That development is not particularly surprising because the Brewers now have one of the top-ranked farm systems in the game. After trading veterans for prospects during their massive rebuilding project as well as making astute draft picks, general manager David Stearns knew there would be some exciting young players to watch this spring.
“You'd prefer them to do well than not do well,” Stearns said. “The caveat is that this is spring training and everyone moves at a slightly different pace. But we're pleased with how they have played.
“They haven't been intimidated at all, which is probably the most enjoyable aspect of watching them. They have gone out and competed every day and that' a good sign.”
With that in mind, we bring you the Brewers Prospects All-Spring Training Team, taking note of those who have made positive impacts:
First base: Jesús Aguilar
OK, we're getting this one out of the way first because there has to be some cheating here. First base is likely the weakest position in the farm system at present, and that has been reflected in camp. Garrett Cooper, a career .292 hitter in the minors, saw some early action there but didn't hit (.343 OPS), so the nod goes to Aguilar, who still has rookie status after playing only 35 games (58 at-bats) with Cleveland the previous three years.
Aguilar, 26, has been the biggest surprise in camp, batting .417 in Cactus League play with four home runs, 11 RBI and an eye-popping 1.317 OPS. He plays only first base and therefore won't be easy to keep on the bench but is out of minor-league options and likely would be claimed if exposed to waivers.
Second base: Isan Diaz
Not officially a member of the Brewers' camp, the 20-year-old Diaz does something impressive nearly every time he gets a chance. He has five hits in 10 at-bats, including a home run and three RBI, with a 1.545 OPS. Granted, his sample size is very small but he led the Midwest League with 20 homers in 2016 while being named the Brewers' minor-league player of the year. How many players his age are this advanced offensively?
Shortstop: Mauricio Dubon
Dubon, 22, is not an official camp member, either, but hasn't let that stop him from being noticed when given a chance to play. He is batting .353 (6 for 17) with a .389 on-base percentage and looks major-league ready in the field, where he has made some sensational plays. Acquired from Boston in the Tyler Thornburg trade, Dubon provides insurance in the event Orlando Arcia doesn't live up to expectations in Milwaukee.
Third base: Lucas Erceg
How many players less than a year out of the draft and with no action above low Class A make this kind of impact in big-league camp? Erceg, 21, is batting .417 (10 for 24) with two homers, seven RBI and 1.190 OPS. He became a spring training phenomenon by blasting a grand slam onto the roof of the right-field pavilion at Goodyear Ballpark in a game against Cleveland. Expectations are for Erceg to move quickly through the system to the big leagues.
Catcher: Dustin Houle
This is another thin position in the minors, where the top prospect is Jacob Nottingham, who didn't play for the Brewers this spring because of an upper biceps issue on his throwing arm. So, the nod goes to Houle, 23, who has survived an avalanche of injuries to get to his first big-league camp. In limited playing time, he is batting .500 (5 for 10) with three doubles two RBI and 1.415 OPS.
Left field: Kyle Wren
Wren is considered more of a centerfielder but we put him in left to fill all three outfield spots and allow for his fine spring. Not officially in Brewers camp, he has performed well when given opportunities, batting .412 (7 for 17) with a .474 OBP and 1.121 OPS. Wren, who crushed a three-run homer Saturday, has been the best non-roster outfielder in camp.
Center field: Lewis Brinson
Brinson, 22, is considered the Brewers' No. 1 prospect and it's easy to see why. There is little he cannot do, both in the field and at the plate. He has batted .294 (10 for 34) this spring with two homers, eight RBI and a .973 OPS. The first time an outfield spot opens in Milwaukee, he will get the call.
Right field: Ryan Cordell
Cordell, 25, flies a bit under the radar because of the Brewers' wealth of outfield prospects, but the more you see him the more you like him. He looked very comfortable in camp, batting .280 (7 for 25) with one homer, nine RBI and a .394 OBP.
Starting pitcher: Josh Hader
With seven established pitchers vying for five spots in the starting rotation, there were few innings for prospects. Hader, 22, pitched three times (one start), covering 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits, one run (1.93 ERA) and two walks with five strikeouts. He will be back before 2017 is done.
Last updated: 11:58 pm Saturday, March 18, 2017