It's another day and another bit of roster news out of Maryvale as the Brewers are making their final personnel decisions in the final week of the offseason. Today the team announced that infielders Colin Walsh and Yadiel Rivera had made the Opening Day roster over Hernan Perez.
Infielders Yadiel Rivera and Colin Walsh have been informed they made the Brewers roster over Hernan Perez.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) March 29, 2016
There's nothing terribly surprising here. Walsh, Milwaukee's first pick plucked from Oakland's Triple-A squad in the December Rule 5 Draft would have needed some sort of disastrous, injury-riddled catastrophe of a camp (see Jones, Zack) to wind up off the Brewers 25-man roster since the Brewers need to keep him there all season in order to retain his services. Instead, he did pretty much exactly what they wanted him to do all spring, drawing walks at a 20% clip to lead the team and getting on base regularly with a clean .400 OPB. Walsh told me last week that those on-base skills are the reason GM David Stearns brought him to Milwaukee. "I'm an on base and a walk guy so with Stearns and the front office kind of focusing on that, that's one of the reasons I was picked in the Rule 5," Walsh said.
Rivera has swung a hot bat all spring, trailing only Scooter Gennett and Domingo Santana in OPS (.984) among Brewers with at least 20 at bats. He carries that over from an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League in witch he hit .315/.405/.425. He's also shown a bit of a power stroke in camp, trailing only Chris Carter for the team lead in home runs with three. Regardless of performance it would have been a surprise if the Brewers had opted for Perez over Rivera since the former isn't on the 40-man roster, but a hot spring for the 23-year-old shortstop made the decision an easy one.
Walsh will likely be the backup to Aaron Hill at third base and could find himself as the short end of a second base platoon with Gennett, who is the worst hitter against left-handed pitchers in major league history (this is not an exaggeration). Rivera will serve as the backup shortstop to Jonathan Villar, but could also see time at 2B and 3B as well. Craig Counsell has previously indicated that outfielder Ramon Flores could also see time backing up at first base behind Chris Carter.
With the infield set, only two battles remain with Opening Day less than a week away. The first is for the final spot in the bullpen, though many including your author find that one to be a foregone conclusion. Milwaukee will likely keep Ariel Pena over Tyler Cravy, since the latter has options remaining and the former does not.
The other battle is for the last spots in the outfield. With Santana, Flores and Ryan Braun having already earned spots on the roster Keon Broxton, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Alex Presley remain in camp fighting for the last two spots on the roster. Broxton looks to have a roster spot locked up after an impressive spring, though no official word has been given. Presley has performed well this spring as well, hitting .289/.400/.579, but he too could be headed to Triple-A for business reasons, since he's not yet on the 40-man roster and Nieuwenhuis is, like Pena, out of minor league options.
As teams begin making their final roster decisions and players begin to hit the waiver wire, the Brewers could even elect to bring someone from outside the organization in to round out their 25-man roster -- Counsell has stated that he doesn't foresee the roster being totally set when they leave Arizona for a dress rehearsal at Minute Maid Park on Thursday against the Astros.