Trent Clark has now played in three minor league seasons for the Brewers, and has declined statistically as he as moved up to the high A ball Carolina Mudcats in 2017. Last season Clark saw his average dip to .223 with a low slugging percentage of .360. He managed just 35 extra base hits in 569 plate appearances, with only 8 home runs.
Clark has walked a lot in his 3 minor league seasons, and his .360 OBP last season gives the Brewers a ray of hope. Trent will be just 21 for his next minor league season, so there is time for growth. But with all of the outfield prospects ahead of him (not to mention those already playing in Milwaukee), Clark will need to show more oomph at the plate to remain a viable prospect in the Brewers’ system.
It’s possible that Trent Clark’s ceiling will be something along the lines of former Brewer outfielder Brady Clark. Clark played nine major league seasons from 2000 to 2008 and had a career slash of .277/.358/.386, giving him a career OPS of .744. Trent has slashed .245/.372/.366 in the minors for an OPS of .738. A nine year major league career is nothing to sneeze at, so if he could develop into that type of a ballplayer he could retire a relatively wealthy man.
But his trend is backwards. Trent will need to show much more in 2018 at whatever level he plays to become relevant in the Brewers future plans. A growth in power numbers as he matures is certainly possible, but his K rate is a concern. It has grown from the 15% to 18% range in rookie ball to the 25% to 28% the past two seasons at Appleton A ball and the Mudcats A+ level. He wiffed 141 times last season; add in his 98 walks and that’s 239 plate appearances out of 569 without putting a ball in play. He needs to make more consistent contact and he needs to generate some power.
Clark could very well reprise his role in Carolina next season; moving him up to AA Biloxi would not, perhaps, aid in his hitting growth. It’s quite possible that Clark will no longer be considered a Top 10 prospect for Milwaukee entering next season, but in our recurring theme, he still has time to get back up there. Twelve homers in almost 1100 plate appearances feels like an unlikely path to a major league outfield, though. Especially if he can’t stick in center field.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference