It's time for the third installment in the Micro Brewers series. Today, we make our way over to the keystone and, in what has become a familiar tone here with this series so far, the crop of prospects on the farm at this position is somewhat thin. The Brewers planted some seeds this week when they acquired 20-year-old Javier Betancourt from Detroit in exchange for Francisco Rodriguez. He immediately shoots to the top of Milwaukee's list of second base prospects.
1) Scooter Gennett, 25
Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration, earliest eligibility in 2017 (Free Agent in 2020)
2015 with Milwaukee: .264/.294/.381, 6 HR, 77 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR
Multi-positional depth: Hernan Perez, Yadiel Rivera, Elian Herrera
Gennett endured his worst season as a professional in 2015, posting career lows in batting average, on base percentage (he was below .300 for the first time in his career) and wRC+ at any level. He still can't hit lefties: he hit just .114 in 35 at bats against them in 2015, bringing his career OPS against southpaws to an impossibly low .297. Gennett is strictly a platoon player, which limits his value and makes it difficult to place him near the top of the order for folks that prefer consistency in the lead-off position.
I had a whole bit here written about Luis Sardinas, who was probably slated for Milwaukee's bench to start 2015, but he was traded to Seattle in the midst of my writing here this morning. Instead, the short side of the second base platoon will have to be handled by one of the those other utility infielders mentioned above, unless of course David Stearns trades every single one of them next week -- at this point a scenario that seems more likely than not. We'll talk about Perez, Herrera and Rivera more when we come around to the third basemen and shortstops next week, but all three have experience playing at second base and will appear there from time to time.
2) Javier Betancourt, 20
Acquired: Traded from Detroit like two freakin' days ago
2015 with Lakeland (High-A): .263/.304/.336, 3 HR, 94 wRC+
3) Chris McFarland, 22
Acquired: 18th round of the 2011 draft
2015 with Brevard County: .274/.317/.325, 3 HR, 100 wRC+
4) George Iskenderian, 21
Acquired: 7th round of the 2015 draft
2015 with Helena: .307/.346/.378, 1 HR, 87 wRC+
Betancourt was the 8th-ranked prospect in the Tigers' system for Baseball Prospectus in their 2016 rankings that came out just hours before the trade for K-Rod was announced. Most scouts project him as a fringe starter or utility option at the major league level (BP has him at a 45 for future value), mostly on the strength of a plus glove. His arm tool is a just average, so he's not really a great option anywhere other than second base. He has minimal power to speak of -- 14 home runs over four professional seasons -- but he has great plate discipline (just an 8.3 K% last season). He's still a few years away, and may wind up starting 2016 with AA-Biloxi. He'll have competition for that job from McFarland, who was a perfectly average hitting with the Manatees in 2015 after spending two seasons with Low-A Wisconsin. Iskenderian, acquired this June in the 7th round of the draft, had stats that look great until you adjust for the league, but you'll probably be able to check him out in Appleton next spring.
Of course, there's a number of infield prospects that could ultimately wind up contributing to the big league club or playing in the minors next season primarily as second basemen -- infield positions are somewhat fluid -- and so consider the likes Nate Orf, Tucker Neuhaus and Blake Allemand, who we'll discuss later on in this series in more detail, to be tangentially a part of this list as well.