During the 2017 season, the Milwaukee Brewers started seeing some of the major pieces of their rebuild begin to come to fruition at the big league level. Zach Davies solidified himself as a sturdy mid-rotation starter with a second consecutive sub-4.00 ERA campaign, Domingo Santana grabbed hold of the right field job with a breakout performance amidst good health, Orlando Arcia entrenched himself at shortstop, and Corey Knebel turned in one of the finest reliever seasons in the National League. Josh Hader, Brett Phillips, and Brandon Woodruff each also impressed to varying degrees during abbreviated rookie seasons and figure to have the opportunity to take the next step and secure significant roles in 2018.
The crown jewel of Milwaukee’s farm system has yet to make much of an impact in the big leagues, but according to one expert Lewis Brinson will be one to watch next season.
After the 2017 MLB Rookies of the Year (Judge, Bellinger) were announced on Monday, MLB Pipeline writer and prospect analyst Jonathan Mayo took the opportunity to look ahead to some early candidates for the 2018 award:
Brinson may have struggled during his brief big league debut, but he still has 30-30 potential and an improved approach to help him get there. Working his way into the Brewers' outfield might be tough, but his multiple tools should help him force his way in soon enough.
Among those listed as National League possibilities is Milwaukee’s reigning Minor League Player of the Year. Ronald Acuna (Braves), Walker Buehler (Dodgers), Jack Flaherty (Cardinals), and Victor Robles (Nationals) were named as other players to keep an eye on.
Brinson, 23, was recently named Milwaukee’s #1 prospect by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus in their updated top-10 lists for 2018. The center fielder is considered to be a true five-tool talent with All-Star potential down the road. He wound up missing some time this season (the 4th straight year he’s been on the DL) early on with a finger injury and late in the year with a significant hamstring strain, but still managed to hit .331/.400/.562 with 13 home runs and 11 steals in 76 games for AAA Colorado Springs en route to winning the organization’s minor league player of the year.
His first big league audition wasn’t quite as impressive, as Brinson could muster only a .106/.236/.277 slash with 2 long balls and 17 strikeouts in 55 plate appearances. In spite of those struggles, Brinson figures to enter Spring Training next year in a position to compete for playing time in center field along with Phillips and Keon Broxton. If Jonathan Mayo is to be believed, it should only be a matter of time until Lewis Brinson seizes the job and begins to wow fans with his incredible skill set.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs