An influx of top prospects could help the Brewers solve their offensive problems

Although the Milwaukee Brewers publicly relied on the “best player available” cliché when discussing drafting strategy, it wasn’t hard to identify the type of players who best fit that description and the team’s philosophy in In terms of player development and squad building: Up- illustrated the centre-backs who had the kind of athleticism that would help them adapt easily to different positions.

While David Stearns ran Milwaukee’s front office for seven years as general manager and later as president of baseball operations, the Brewers made nine first-round picks (including two competitive balance-round picks): four of them were used to pick one Selecting outfielders, two each on a shortstops and second baseman, while only one was used to select a pitcher.

And while Stearns is no longer running the show after his surprise decision to step down and hand things over to longtime assistant Matt Arnold, the emphasis on these types of players could very well be the answer to the offensive inconsistency that the Brewers have at a depth held playoffs underway in 2021 and kept them out of the playoffs overall last season.

Stearns himself hinted at that possibility a few weeks before announcing his decision to step down, noting at his annual end-of-season press conference that the number of hyped prospects waiting at Triple-A Nashville isn’t just the looks of Milwaukee’s roster could change but also have a significant impact on the style the team plays next season.

“From a positional perspective, we think we have players that can influence this team and change the composition of the positional squad to some extent,” Stearns said. “We’ll have to figure out exactly how all of this fits together over the coming months but there’s a talented group coming in that offers slightly different skillsets than we currently have in our major league roster and I think they’ll have the opportunity to influence the team.”

With Stearns in an advisory role, it’s now up to Arnold to figure out how to make all the pieces fit, but the presence of so many young outfielders ready for their shot played into the decision to give Hunter Renfroe a trio to send the Angels a roll of young pitchers.

“There are a lot of guys with opportunities,” Arnold said after the trade. “The number of guys that are in the mix here to compete – whether that’s on opening day – has yet to be determined. We still have a long way to go before that, but we’re looking forward to this group and feel really good about the mix of outfield players we have going into the 2023 season.”

Here are five prospects that could play a significant role for the Brewers in 2023

Garett Mitchell, OF

MLB Pipeline Rank: No. 5

2022 Highest Level: MLB

Mitchell was the first member of that group to reach the majors when he was drafted in late August. He capitalized on the opportunity, averaging .832 OPS in 68 appearances while making it big in one crucial situation after another. He also showed his speed on the base paths, swiping eight pockets as well as being defensive in midfield.

There is still work to be done, particularly in terms of pitch selection after 28 strikes, but it’s hard to imagine an opening day squad that doesn’t feature his name and barring an outside takeover, he’s the likely front runner for the start of the season in the center.

Sal Frelick, OF

MLB Pipeline Rank: #2

2022 Highest Level: Class AAA

Milwaukee snagged Boston College’s Frelick with the 15th pick overall in the 2021 draft, and he wasted little time to make a positive impression, cutting .329/.414/.466 in 35 games across three levels of the Brewers’ farm system.

Frelick again saw action on three different levels in 2022 and got off to a good start in Class A Wisconsin, where he posted an .847 OPS in 21 games followed by a .317/.380/.464 slash with 12 doubles, nine stolen bases and .844 OPS in 52 games at Double-A Biloxi.

The Brewers rewarded Frelick with a promotion to Nashville, and he showed his appreciation with even more impressive numbers: .365/.435/.508 with nine more stolen bases and .943 OPS.

Overall, Frelick batted a .331 organizational best with .883 OPS in 562 plate appearances to slot himself squarely into the mix for a roster spot next season and could be the Brewers’ long-term answer to the leadoff spot.

Joe Wiemer

MLB Pipeline Rank: #3

2022 Highest Level: Class AAA

The former University of Cincinnati standout was Milwaukee’s fourth-round pick in 2020 and was named the organization’s minor-league player of the year in 2021 after hitting 27 homers and stealing 30 bases for Milwaukee’s two Class-A rosters.

He started last season at Double-A Biloxi, where he hit 15 home runs, stole 25 bases and had a .761 OPS in 84 games that earned him a promotion to Nashville and hasn’t slowed down one bit. In 43 games, he hit six homers, drove in 30 carries, stole six bases, and finished with an .888 OPS.

Strikeouts are still an issue, although he reduced his strikeout rate from 30.2% to 19.5% after his promotion, but his raw power has helped fuel surge through the system quickly.

Defensively, Wiemer is valued for his strong arm, which could make him the right fielder of Milwaukee’s future, especially following the trade to Renfroe.

Brice Turang, SS/OF

MLB Pipeline Rank: #4

2022 Highest Level: Class AAA

Turang, Milwaukee’s first-round pick in 2018 (No. 21 overall), was included in the 40-man roster for the first time this month to protect him from losing him in this winter’s Rule 5 draft, and after Mitchell this is the most likely way to see big league action next season.

At the minor league level, he has little left to prove. Turang spent all of last season at Triple-A, hitting .286/.360/.412 with 13 homers, 78 RBIs and .772 OPS. Turang fit the mold of athletic, high-profile players with positional versatility that the Brewers coveted and began seeing significant action in midfield last season, which should help him gain some playing time as the Brewers put Willy Adames at shortstop appear and picked up their $10 million club option on second baseman Kolten Wong.

“Brice has definitely established itself very well with us,” said Arnold. “The thing about Brice is he can play a lot of different positions for us, right? Versatility is always something we really value. Those things are typically training, so having a guy with that talent and versatility is always a good thing.

Esteury Ruiz, OF

MLB Pipeline Rank: No. 8

2022 Highest Level: Class AAA

One of two prospects tapped from San Diego for Josh Hader is also on the 40-man roster and saw limited use last season. He appeared in 14 games for the Padres before the trade and three more with Milwaukee after a Sept. 1 call-up.

The numbers weren’t terribly impressive (6 to 35, .452 OPS), but he cut .329/.402/.459 with .861 OPS in 437 minor league at-bats last season and he’s also only 23 years old.

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