Along with Taylor Green, Caleb Gindl and Logan Schafer are two of the top three position player prospects in the Brewer organization. Both had big years in 2011 in AAA but with Ryan Braun, Nyjer Morgan, Carlos Gomez and Corey Hart under team control long term neither figured to get an opportunity to play consistently in the majors anytime soon.
The Braun suspension, however, seemed likely to change things a bit for these guys. With an open spot on the Opening Day roster, it seemed like one of these two guys would go north with the big club in April and get a month to show what he can do.
The Norichika Aoki situation, however, puts a question mark on all of that. If the Brewers reach a deal with the Japanese outfielder then it's possible he gets the roster space and playing time one of these guys would have received. Given an outfield rotation to open the season of Aoki, Nyjer Morgan, Carlos Gomez and Corey Hart, it's hard to believe a fifth outfielder would get more than token work. And of course, when Braun returns even that limited opportunity will be gone.
Here's a quick scouting report on the two players in question here:
Gindl is one of the more polarizing prospects in the Brewer organization. He doesn't necessarily draw accolades from scouts because he doesn't look like a big leaguer (he's only listed at 5'9"), but he's hit at every level of the minors: He just turned 23 in August and hit .307/.390/.472 in 126 AAA games in 2011. He's played some center field in the minors but will probably be limited to corner spots in the majors. Regardless of what the organization thinks of his size, one has to figure they've got to give him a shot eventually if he keeps hitting.
Schafer, meanwhile, bounced back from a lost 2010 season to hit .315/.385/.439 over 99 games between three levels in 2011 and earn his first callup to the big leagues. He's older than Gindl but still only 25, and has the added advantage of being able to play all three outfield spots well. He's only played 40 games in AAA, but it's possible the Brewers could give him a month of playing time to see what he can do in 2012.
So in the end it comes down to this:
- If the Brewers don't sign Aoki, the likely Braun suspension means the Brewers will probably open the 2012 season with a roster spot available for a month or more. It might come down to a competition between these two guys in Maryvale to see who gets the opportunity.
- If the Brewers do sign Aoki and don't make another move, then the team will come to Maryvale with five major league outfielders under control for multiple seasons (assuming Aoki doesn't sign a one year deal). If that's the case, then it's hard to imagine Gindl or Schafer getting an opportunity to play consistently in the majors anytime soon.