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Milwaukee Brewers ink pair of minor league infielders

Bruce Caldwell and Patrick Leonard join the organization.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers are a little short on upper-level infield depth in the minor leagues. The org let nine infielders walk after the end of the 2018 season, and while that does open up spots for prospects like Lucas Erceg, Keston Hiura, Mauricio Dubon, and others the opportunity to advance and get more opportunities against more appropriate competition, it does leave some spots that need to be back-filled in order to field competent rosters. The front office recently took steps to address this shortcoming by a pair of infielders to minor league contracts.

Bruce Caldwell, 27, began his career as a 15th-round pick by the Cardinals back in 2012. In seven seasons, six with St. Louis and one with the Yankees, he’s batted .256/.341/.409 across 664 games and 2,687 plate appearances, reaching as high as the Triple-A level. He’s shown a penchant for the three true outcomes - he owns a 25.5% strikeout rate, an 11% walk rate, a .153 ISO, and has topped double-digit home runs in each season in which he’s played at least 100 games. He’s played primarily second and third base as a professional while also logging a handful of games at first, short, and in the outfield.

Last season with the Yankees, Caldwell appeared in 122 games between the Double-A and Triple-A levels, amassing 487 plate appearances while posting a .258/.342/.404 slash with 10 homers. His production was much stronger at the lower-level affiliate, and he’s generally struggled in three cracks at the highest level of the minors, batting .223/.292/.351 in 67 games.

Patrick Leonard, 26, was a fifth-round selection of the Royals back in 2012 who drew praise for his power but was considered a bit of a project coming out of high school. Leonard was part of the 2013 trade that sent Wade Davis and James Shields to Kansas City and was ranked among the Rays’ top-30 prospects early on in his career. His offensive profile is rather similar to that of Caldwell; he’s a .255/.331/.409 hitter in 798 games with a 25.1% strikeout rate, an 8.9% walk rate, and 78 home runs. He spent a lot of time at first base early on but has settled in primarily at third base while also logging some notable time in the outfield corners.

Leonard was listed as an “other prospect of note” by Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs in his roundup of the Tampa Bay farm system prior to the 2017 season. “Leonard has big raw power but is limited to the corner spots and he doesn’t track pitches well, which leads to lots of swinging and missing. He has a four-corner bench-bat ceiling,” he wrote. Leonard was a member of the Charlotte Knights in 2018, the Triple-A affiliate of the White Sox, and in 124 games he batted .242/.315/.395 with 11 homers but also a 30%+ strikeout rate.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference