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Today In Brewer History: Happy Trails, Ronnie Belliard

On this day in 2002 the Rockies signed infielder Ronnie Belliard to a one year deal, effectively ending the Brewer career of a former top prospect who had run off the rails in Milwaukee.

The Brewers drafted Belliard in the eighth round (207th overall pick) of the 1994 draft, and he advanced up the ladder pretty quickly. He spent his first season in AAA as a 22 year old in 1997, then improved upon it in 1998 and was named the 49th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America before the 1999 season.

Belliard got an unexpected chance to play every day at second base in 1999 when Fernando Vina was limited to just 37 games by injury, and had a very good rookie season. He hit .295/.379/.429 in 124 games that year, connecting for 29 doubles. His emergence as a viable everyday major leaguer opened the door for the Brewers to trade Vina following the season and install Belliard in a full time role.

Unfortunately, Belliard's best days as a Brewer were already behind him at that point. He never again matched his .808 OPS from 1999, and dropped all the way to a .211/.257/.287 batting line in his final season as a Brewer in 2002. The Brewers non-tendered him following the season.

Given Belliard's unceremonious Brewer departure, it's somewhat surprising that he managed to go on to play eight more major league seasons. He last appeared in the big leagues with the Dodgers in 2010, and spent 2011 in the minors with the Phillies.

With help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to 1976 Brewer Ray Sadecki. He turns 71.