Brewers Infield Preview
In the fourth part of a five part series, I will be discussing the current situation of the Brewers infield, as well as what the future appears to hold in store for the unit. At the moment, it looks like the unit is one that is focused on what the future holds in tact, when the top prospect in the Brewers organization is at short, and the other top young player is at second. Not enough to determine youth is the future here? How about a Korean league first baseman, a third year third baseman, and a fourth year backup infielder? Still not enough to verify what I am saying? Look at the prospects.
Right now, former Korean Leaguer Eric Thames seems to be the guy at first, and if his numbers come anywhere close to what he did in Korea, he is going to be an All-Star. Honestly, though first base is the only position where there is not a true answer in the top 30 Brewers prospects, so you have to hope that Thames is the answer. Milwaukee has not had a reliable first baseman for an extended period of time since Prince Fielder, so hopefully it is Thames. If it isn't him, Travis Shaw or Ryan Braun could conceivably move, but it's always best to have a natural player at each position.
Jonathan Villar moved from short to third once Orlando Arcia came up, but the Brewers had always planned on him going to second eventually. Nobody thought he would be as good as he was, as we got him for next to nothing, but if Villar plays like 2016 again, he will be an amazing trade candidate. Scooter Gennett is primarily a second baseman, but his struggles at the plate and at every other position limit him to a major extent. Depending on the success of Orlando Arcia, Isan Diaz or Mauricio Dubon are the long term replacements for Villar, unless of course the Brewers want him there for years.
The Brewers position players in the top 30 prospects are mostly outfielders and shortstops, so you would have to believe that Milwaukee is set in those areas. The former top prospect, Orlando Arcia, graduated to the major leagues and is the clear cut favorite to start off 2017 at short. Obviously Jonathan Villar came play there, along with prospects Dubon and Diaz, but it is guys like Jesus Aguilar, Yadiel Rivera and non-roster invitees Eric Sogard and Ivan DeJesus that could cause trouble for Arcia.
Travis Shaw was the other piece brought in for former closer Tyler Thornburg, and he is a big league ready youngster who will take over the hot corner. Lucas Erceg is the main prospect at the position, and right now he is nowhere near the majors. Many of the other listed infielders can play third base as well, but the main one to pay attention to is Hernan Perez, who will likely spend a lot of time at multiple positions. Expect regular starts for Perez at third, second and right field. Every other day, Shaw is the likely starter, but he won't start every day of the week.
OPENING DAY INFIELDERS: Jonathan Villar, Orlando Arcia, Travis Shaw, Eric Thames, Hernan Perez, Scooter Gennett
When I determine who is going to make the Opening Day roster, I usually start off by listing who is most likely to make it, and end with who is least likely. Outside of the common struggles by Gennett, give me a reason to tell you why he is least likely? Because he can only play second? Because he can't hit lefties? Scooter Gennett is a long term liability, and the Brewers need to find a way for him to become a short term reliability. Yadiel Rivera would be the first man out of the rotation, and expect him to see more big league time. The infield has promise, but right now it isn't that great.