Up to this point in our series previously known as Micro Brewers, we've covered positions where the cupboard is relatively bare -- Milwaukee has made significant strides as an organization over the past year or so, but there are still quite a few positions of need. That changes today. Milwaukee is bursting with talent at the shortstop position at every level of the organization. The way that Slingin' Stearns has been behaving over the past week, there's a better-than-not chance that this list looks very different by this time next year, but for now, here's the run down of the organization at short.
1) Jean Segura (25)
Contract status: Arbitration eligible (1st year), Free Agent in 2019
2015 with Milwaukee: .257/.281/.336, 6 HR, 62 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR (584 PA)
2) Jonathan Villar (24)
Contract status: Pre-arbitration (earliest eligibility 2018), Free Agent in 2021
2015 with Houston: .284/.339/.414, 5 HR, 107 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR (128 PA)
Mulit-positional depth: Elian Herrera
Segura, who believe it or not is Milwaukee's longest tenured infielder, is a player many Brewers fans were expecting a bounce-back season from in 2015 after his disappointing performance the year before. Instead, he delivered a performance that could arguably have been even worse, as his poor 66 wRC+ from 2014 dipped even lower and he walked just 2.2% of the time.
A hot start with the bat after Milwaukee initially acquired him from the Angels in exchange for Zack Greinke led Brewers fans to believe that they'd located their shortstop of the future, but he's been hit poorly for two and a half seasons now, though his glove remains a strength. With Orlando Arcia knocking on the door, it's quite likely that the Brewers will try to move Segura, either this winter or during the 2016 season.
We're listing Villar -- acquired from Houston for Double-A pitcher Cy Sneed -- here since he's played more than 92% of his major league innings there, but he's the most likely candidate to start at third base on Opening Day, pending further trades or free agent moves. Exclusively an shortstop prior to last season Villar, who enjoyed his finest season in 2015, played third base, second base, left field and center field -- the latter three sparingly -- as he sought to find a spot in the lineup following the arrival of AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa.
3) Orlando Arcia (21)
Aquired: Signed as an international free agent for $95,000 signing bonus in 2011
2015 with AA-BIloxi: .307/.347/.453, 8 HR, 126 wRC+ (552 PA)
4) Gilbert Lara (18)
Aquired: Signed as an international free agent for $3.1 million signing bonus in 2014
2015 with AZL Brewers: .248/.285/.332, 1 HR, 81 wRC+ (214 PA)
5) Jake Gatewood (20)
Acquired: 1st round of 2014 draft
2015 with Rookie-level Helena: .274/.331/.476, 6 HR, 102 wRC+ (238 PA)
6) Yadiel Rivera (23)
Acquired: 9th round of the 2010 draft
2015 with AAA-Colorado Springs: .238/.266/.303, 1 HR, 48 wRC+ (306 PA)
7) Franly Mallen (18)
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent for $800,000 signing bonus in 2013
2015 with DSL Brewers: .268/.351/.421, 4 HR, 121 wRC+ (265 PA)
8) Blake Allemand (23)
Acquired: 5th round of the 2015 draft
2015 with Low-A Wisconsin: .272/.323/.337, 2 HR, 95 wRC+ (267 PA)
Besides being the organization's deepest position, shortstop is also it's most global, featuring five international free agents (Segura and Villar were signed by Los Angeles and Houston, respectively, in this manner as well) and Rivera, who hails from Puerto Rico. Everyone knows about Arcia, Milwaukee's number one prospect with a bullet and a top 20 overall prospect, who had a breakout year in 2015 to lead Biloxi to the Southern League championship series. He'll start the year with Colorado Springs and could make his MLB debut in 2016.
The next two players on the list, Lara and Gatewood, are high-upside but raw players who profile as potential plus bats. It's been speculated that both could wind up at third base eventually, in part because of some questions about their ability to play shortstop at the major league level (remember, those same questions existed about Segura) and in part because of Arcia's presence. Neither has spent any game time at the hot corner, but both worked out there at instructs this fall. Gatewood played about half the year with the Timber Rattlers, while Lara also spent some time with Helena.
With the trade of Luis Sardinas last week, Rivera now looks like a good bet to make the Brewers Opening Day roster -- if he's not traded himself. He had a rough time hitting in the Pacific Coast League and an even rougher time during a September cameo in Milwaukee, but he was actually an above-average hitter (107 wRC+) in 52 games with the Shuckers. Mallen, who was the Brewers most expensive international free agent signing ever before they went all Pacman Jones to get Lara, spent his year in the Dominican Summer League and excelled. It's probably a good bet that they'll bring him stateside next season. Finally Allemand, drafted out of Texas A&M University this June, had a solid first season as a professional, splitting time between shortstop and second base with the T-Rats.