Overview - Another team in rebuilding mode. You’d think a team releasing a player who hit 41 homeruns in 2016 would have a solid lineup. Chris Carter was not much of a first baseman and the Brewers took a chance at KBO MVP Eric Thames to hold down the position. Cost was the biggest reason for the pink slip to Carter. They also have the stolen base leader in Jonathan Villar on their roster but the Brewers decided to keep him. It will still be a rebuilding year but some of the blocks will be appearing on the major league roster in 2017 giving the Brewers a sneak preview of what 2019 will be about.
Strengths - Enhanced by steroids or not Ryan Braun provides the Brewers some power in left field. He hit 30 homeruns and drove in 91 runs. Last year he had to spend some time in right field, but this year he will be at his more comfortable position in left field. The Brewers hope this will help him offensively. The Brewers will find a place for stolen base leader Jonathan Villar to play. After hitting .285 with 19 homeruns Villar stole a league leading 62 bases. The Brewers acquired Travis Shaw to play third base so expect Villar to knock Scooter Gennett into a utility role. Hernan Perez had a wonderful season hitting .272 with 13 homeruns and 34 stolen bases. The Brewers traded for Travis Shaw so Perez will probably fit in a utility role as well. This gives the Brewers a lot of flexibility with their infield.
Weaknesses - As a rebuilding club they have lots of them, and it usually starts off with pitching. There ace is Junior Guerra who a couple years ago was pitching in Europe. He came to the United States and limited the opposition to a .213 average. Repeating that success will be difficult. After Guerra finding a starting pitcher with an ERA under 4 is a real challenge. With the trade of Tyler Thornburg the bullpen lacks a big time closer. Nefteli Perez at one time was supposed to be the closer for the Rangers but arm injuries ended those hopes. Carlos Torres is another option. He led the team in appearances (72) last year with an ERA of 2.73. Jonathan Lucroy will be missed with his presence behind the plate. Jett Mandy, Andrew Susac and Manny Pina will battle for playing time at catcher. Finding any offense in that trio will be a challenge. The outfield will struggle to score runs unless Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton meet their potential. Myworld expects Lewis Brinson to be playing centerfield before the All Star break.
Non-Roster Invitees - The Brewers have a lot of arms in camp. Myworld likes Forest Snow as a sneaker pick with Joba Chamberlain trying to show he still has his fastball.
Breakout Prospects - Lewis Brinson could win the centerfield job by mid-season after Broxton gets injured or fails to produce any offense. Brinson has speed to play center and take the extra base with the bat to generate an offense to slug multiple balls over the fence. With Brinson, Villar and Perez in the lineup the Brewers will again lead the National League in stolen bases. Josh Hader is a pitcher who has bloomed late, a lefthanded arm that can dial it up at 98 to 99. He has already been on three teams in his short career in the minors. Luis Ortiz is another pitcher who can rise to the top spot in the rotation. He was acquired from the Rangers in the Jonathn Lucroy trade and will start his season in AAA. Jorge Lppez had a rough AAA last year but has been pitching well for the Puerto Rico WBC team and finished last year with a 3.97 ERA in eight starts in AA.
Prospects to Watch - Corey Ray was the Brewers first round pick in 2016. A combination of speed and power makes him a potential impact player. Isan Diaz is a hitting machine. His 2016 season paled in comparison to his 2015 but he did hit a career high 20 homeruns. Defense is his weakness and a move from shortstop to second base is necessary. Trent Clark had a rough year last year, hitting just .231 but injuries limited him to 59 games. He was the Brewers first round pick in 2015 but falls short of Ray in the power and speed category. Lucas Erceg hit .400 in a 100 at bat season in rookie ball. His bat has pop and the tools are there for him to stick at third. Keep an eye on Demi Orimoloye. The Nigerian born outfielder who settled in Canada has five tools, but an inability to recognize pitches and make contact with the ball has held him back.
Expected Finish - Both the Reds and Brewers are forfeiting the 2017 season as they rebuild with prospects. The Brewers are stronger in the position areas and this will put them ahead of the Reds.