I won't lie to you. I'm honestly a little surprised that I'm writing about Alex Presely right now. I was trying to come up with other ideas to tie into the number seven when the Brewers announced their third round of spring transactions. I expected to read Presley's name among those heading to Colorado Springs. But I didn't. And now he's one of the final three outfielders battling for two spots. At this point, I really have no idea who will win out.
Well, that's actually not true. I have a pretty good feeling that Keon Broxton is going to secure one of those spots--this just a few days after I told Kyle and Travis I wasn't so sure about him. I'm still not sold on his ability to become a starting regular. But he could be a solid fourth outfielder and he's the only right-handed option. And as Kyle pointed out, this is the year to let these fringe guys prove they can't break out.
Assuming Broxton makes the cut, that leaves Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Presley to duke it out over that last spot. They're both rather similar when you take a broad strokes view. They're both best suited as fourth outfielders. They're both left handed. They can both handle all three outfield spots--I erroneously claimed yesterday was not on Presley's resume but he's played 450 major league innings there.
Neither really does much (statistically) to differentiate themselves. Nieuwenhuis is probably the better defender, but neither is special. Presley strikes out almost half as much, but Niuwenhuis walks nearly twice as much if not more. However each owns a below average career offensive stat line: 91 wRC+ for Presley, 95 wRC+ for Nieuwenhuis.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis' name is a pain in the ass to spell out. But Alex Presley makes me think of Elvis Presley whose music I very much dislike. Again it's a wash.
This is a case where spring training performance may really matter. I'm not talking about results (ie statistics). I'm talking about what the Brewers scouts and coaches see from these guys. Do they think one is clearly better defensively? Does one take better routes? Does one play harder? Does one have a better throwing arm? Maybe the Brewers think one has more offensive potential. Maybe they think they can change swing mechanics or timing and get better results? These are things that aren't made clear through stats.
I honestly have no idea which player has the better chance at making the opening day roster. I've been assuming Nieuwenhuis gets the nod simply because he's already on the 40-man roster and Presley isn't. But the fact that he's still around might be meaningful. Maybe Presley has done enough to win a job. The Brewers usually do give one or two spots to non-roster invitees. So it wouldn't be shocking.
Which do you think makes the roster? Vote in the poll and let me know in the comments.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs