We are roughly half way through the Brewers 2017 spring training, and things are looking up for this team right now. The Brewers are 10-8 after a slow start currently in 6th place in the cactus league. There are three weeks left in the season, and we are starting to see some players sent to the minor league club for the rest of the spring. I have always had the philosophy that you should take spring training stats with a grain of salt. But, there something that can be said about being hot in spring training and carrying that to the regular season.
The Outfielders on this team have been crushing baseballs throughout this entire spring. Guys like Broxton, Brinson, Santana and Cordell have been hitting for a high average so far this spring.
Keon Broxton– Broxton is leading the team in AB this spring which is nice to see. After a slow start season, he came on strong after his second call up. With 31 ABs so far he his hitting .387 with 3 HR and a 1.293 OPS.
Lewis Brinson-The centerpiece of the Lucroy/Jeffress deal, this is his first spring with the Brewers. So far he has had 28 AB with a .286 AVG 2 HR and a .926 OPS. Brinson is the most exciting of all the OF with the Brewers. He is a five-tool player, and I expect him to be in CF for many years to come.
Jett Bandy/Manny Pina– All three of the guys competing for the C position have about equal ABs so far this spring. The C battle is going to be fun to watch down the stretch of spring training.
- Manny Pina-Pina has outperformed the other two guys so far this spring. He is hitting .346, Pina isn’t showing any power this spring, zero HR, four RBI and one SB. Pina is 29, my guess is they will want the job to go to Bandy or Susac because of their age, allowing them a better chance to grow with the other young guys. Pina has thrown 3/5 baserunners so far.
- Jett Bandy- Bandy has thrown out 5/8 baserunners so far, and he is hitting .310 this spring with 3 RBI. I have been very impressed with Bandy’s arm behind the plate, on a couple occasions watching him throw runners out after picking the ball out of the dirt on a bad pitch.
- Andrew Susac-Susac has had his struggles so far this season, hitting under .200 and has struck out 15 times in 26 AB. Susac came from San Fransico in the Will Smith trade last season. He was my early projection to be the starting C for this squad. But, with the success of Bandy and Pina so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts the season as the backup or in AAA. All depending on options that are available for each guy.
Jesus Aguilar– Aguilar is 26 years old and is mashing baseballs so far this spring. He has a .462 AVG with 3 HR and 9 RBI in 26 AB so far. I expect him to make the major league roster this season and will split time with Eric Thames at first base.
Lucas Erceg-I would like to see Erceg get more AB this season, he only has 20 this season. In those 20 AB, he has 2 HR and 7 RBI with a .450 average. He projects out to be a high power guy. But, I don’t see him starting the season in the MLB. Most likely he will start in high A eventually moving into AA.
Junior Guerra-Guerra has thrown 10 innings so far this season and has put up some solid numbers so far. He has given up 2 ER in those 10 innings with 6 strikeouts. At 32, it looks like he will be the opening day starter for this otherwise young squad. While Guerra isn’t ideal for building a team around, the amount of innings on his arm are relatively small still, at 125 career innings pitched in the MLB we don’t have to worry about him breaking down. If he pitches well in the first half, I would expect Stearns to be fielding a lot of phone calls about Guerra.
Tyler Cravy– Cravy is working to earn himself a spot in the bullpen this season, he has pitched 7.1 innings and hasn’t given up an earned run and has struck out 5 batters.
Josh Hader– Hader pitched well in his limited time with the big league squad this spring. He only pitched 4.2 innings and only gave up 1 earned run, he pitched well during his time on the mound. He was optioned back down to the minor league spring training squad. He needs to work on his changeup, and I hope he will be able to with the minor league squad through the rest of the spring. I still anticipate him being in the majors before the end of this season. Hopefully, that changeup gets right.
Orlando Arcia– I am super excited about Arcia this season, could be the 2nd hitter for the Brewers for many many years. But, he is off to a slow start this spring. He is seeing a lot of action in the spring, second on the team with 30 AB. He his hitting .235 at this point during the spring, he has 1 HR 5 RBI and 3 strikeouts. I am not worried about the average at this point, but I was shocked to see he has no stolen bases yet this season.
Eric Thames– To me, Thames is pretty unknown still, I didn’t know much about him the last time he was in the MLB. I still didn’t know who he was right away when the Brewers signed him in the offseason. He has elite power numbers while in the KBO, so far this season he is hitting .222 with 1 HR and 2 RBI. He can still be adjusting to the MLB and facing MLB pitching. Working towards learning the strike zone here in the MLB, but I am really expecting him to put up very solid numbers with the Brewers. He is going to get a lot of chances to play every day with the team, and I expect him to hit 4th or 5th this season.
Brett Phillips– The Brewers are giving Phillips a bunch of chances so far to get a good look at him this Spring. He is struggling in his 24 AB so far, hitting .208 with 4 RBI, 1 SB and with 10 strikeouts. He is going to continue to get a lot of action for the remainder of the spring, but he will ultimately start this season in AAA.
At this point in the spring we will see more guys being optioned to minor league camp, 8 were optioned this week, and I expect more to come soon. Pitchers are going to be stretched out more and more over the next three weeks.
Wily Peralta just got back from the WBC and expected to pitch later on this week. He was only eligible to pitch one game for his Dominican Republic team so Peralta won’t be traveling with the team for the second round. Peralta pitched 4 innings and gave up one earned run, and struck out 6. Peralta struggled early last season, but I have always thought he has a lot of potential. He was supposed to make a step last season as the Brewers #1 last year but wasn’t able to step up. Hopefully, a rebound year comes this season.
Jorge Lopez pitched for Puerto Rico during the WBC he also looked very good in his 4.1 innings that he pitched against Mexico, he struck out 5 guys, walked 2 guys, and gave up 1 earned run. Lopez was one of the pitchers optioned to minor league camp this week. It won’t surprise me to see him start in AA and skip AAA to the majors.
Johnathan Villar was having a good spring with his 15 AB. But, he has seen little action during the WBC so far. He only has four AB in three games so far this WBC, he had 1 hit and a walk. If Villar isn’t going to play much, I would rather him report back to Brewers camp to get ready for the season.