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Broxton blasts impressive homer off Ohtani

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Keon Broxton helped the Brewers say "Welcome to the big leagues" to Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani.

Broxton connected for a line-drive home run leading off the second inning, helping to spoil Ohtani's first U.S. start as the Brewers played the Angels on Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Ohtani departed two batters later after hitting his pitch count in his unofficial-but-much-anticipated Major League debut.

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Keon Broxton helped the Brewers say "Welcome to the big leagues" to Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani.

Broxton connected for a line-drive home run leading off the second inning, helping to spoil Ohtani's first U.S. start as the Brewers played the Angels on Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Ohtani departed two batters later after hitting his pitch count in his unofficial-but-much-anticipated Major League debut.

View Full Game Coverage

A right-handed power pitcher and left-handed slugger who drew offseason interest from teams all over MLB, including the Brewers, Ohtani threw 17 of his 31 pitches for strikes against the Brewers. Milwaukee leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar greeted him by hitting a 3-1 pitch for a ground-rule double over the center-field fence, and later scored on a wild pitch coupled with a throwing error charged to Angels catcher Martin Maldonado.

Ohtani struck out Nate Orf and Brett Phillips in the first inning to limit the damage to that unearned run before Broxton connected in the second.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jonathan Broxton

Burnes, Hiura get Cactus debuts in the books

Brewers' top two prospects help respective split-squad teams win
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The top Brewers prospect's tweet was short and sweet.

"1st Spring Training game," Keston Hiura wrote Friday night after collecting two hits in a split-squad win over the Giants, adding a checkmark to note another professional first in the books.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The top Brewers prospect's tweet was short and sweet.

"1st Spring Training game," Keston Hiura wrote Friday night after collecting two hits in a split-squad win over the Giants, adding a checkmark to note another professional first in the books.

Pitching prospect Corbin Burnes, who sits right behind Hiura on MLB Pipeline's recently updated list of Milwaukee's top Minor Leaguers, tweeted as well. He shared the final score of the Brewers' win over the Cubs, in which he was the pitcher of record.

"You get a little nervous the first time warming up in the 'pen," said Burnes, who breezed through a clean inning on 11 pitches, all strikes. "You try to stay in the moment, but you want to take it all in. Once I got to the mound, I kind of took it in, and it was like, 'You know what? I belong here.'"

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"It was a great day," Hiura said. "I was looking forward to that day for a while."

Hiura was in the starting lineup against the Giants as the Brewers' designated hitter, a familiar role considering it's how he began his pro career last summer. The Brewers liked Hiura's bat so much that they drafted him ninth overall knowing he had a right elbow injury that might require Tommy John surgery. He opted for a platelet-rich plasma injection and rehab instead, and logged at-bats without playing the field.

By the fall, Hiura was healthy again and back at second base. It was during the fall instructional league that he learned he'd be invited to big league camp.

"I'm learning as much as I can, from the players to the coaching staff to everyone around here," Hiura said. "I'm learning what I can do to get to this level, and at the same time learning how to take care of my body to play plenty of games every year."

Tweet from @Kestdaddy: 1st Spring Training game������

He enters this season ranked 56th in MLB Pipeline's overall Top 100 after hitting .371/.422/.611 in 41 games between the Rookie-level Arizona League and Class A Wisconsin. Hiura said the only time he thinks about his arm is when people ask him about it.

"Giving it time to let the arm heal was big for me," he said. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't do that."

Burnes, too, is in his first big league camp as a non-roster invitee. He is the Brewers' reigning Minor League pitcher of the year after going 8-3 with an organization-best 1.67 ERA in 26 starts between Class A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Biloxi in 2017, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly four to one.

Video: Counsell on No. 56 overall prospect Keston Hiura

Burnes is likely to begin the season in the Minor Leagues, but manager Craig Counsell said he considers Burnes and fellow pitching prospects Freddy Peralta, Taylor Williams and Adrian Houser as candidates to contribute to the big league club as soon as midseason.

For his part, Burnes reported to camp with the mindset that he's trying to win a spot on the Opening Day roster.

"That's my mindset every day," Burnes said. "Every day in the Minors, every day leading up to this point, you're trying to make the team. So I'm going to do whatever I can, and whether I start at Double-A, Triple-A or the big leagues, that's up to them. I'm going to compete every day."

Once a player gets to Double-A, Burnes said, "It kind of hits home. You see [Jorge] Lopez getting the call, 'T-Willy' [Williams] getting the call, you realize it's right there. It's only one phone call away. I'm one phone call away now."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Milwaukee Brewers, Corbin Burnes, Keston Hiura

'Four studs' for three spots in Brewers' outfield

With Cain, Yelich in mix, Crew has plenty of depth
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- Lorenzo Cain will be the Brewers' primary center fielder. Christian Yelich will get some work in right field this spring but figures to mostly man left. Domingo Santana says he's intent on improving defensively in right field. And Ryan Braun, the former National League MVP and Milwaukee's longest-tenured player, will fit in somewhere, even if that means some at-bats at first base.

Even third-base coach Ed Sedar, Milwaukee's outfield instructor, is curious to see how it shakes out. Sedar can't remember a better or deeper Brewers outfield, and when he looks around the clubhouse at this wealth of depth, one thought pops into his mind.

PHOENIX -- Lorenzo Cain will be the Brewers' primary center fielder. Christian Yelich will get some work in right field this spring but figures to mostly man left. Domingo Santana says he's intent on improving defensively in right field. And Ryan Braun, the former National League MVP and Milwaukee's longest-tenured player, will fit in somewhere, even if that means some at-bats at first base.

Even third-base coach Ed Sedar, Milwaukee's outfield instructor, is curious to see how it shakes out. Sedar can't remember a better or deeper Brewers outfield, and when he looks around the clubhouse at this wealth of depth, one thought pops into his mind.

"You hope you don't screw it up," Sedar said.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Sedar dubbed the group the Brewers' "four studs," and that's not even counting Brett Phillips, the outfield prospect with the 80-grade throwing arm, and Keon Broxton, coming off a 20-homer, 20-steal season. Phillips and Broxton have Minor League options, which might come in handy for the Brewers if they reach Opening Day with this crowd intact.

An injury or a trade could provide clarity, but there's also the possibility that Spring Training will end with no clean answer for how the Brewers will deploy all of these outfielders.

"You know, we might go in with a plan and then the plan will change frequently in the season," manager Craig Counsell said. "It doesn't have to be this strict plan. We know what guys are capable of. We know where we can plug them in if we need to. We make sure we know that. And then what happens depends on what happens with the group."

The breakdown

If there is a certainty, it's that Cain will man center field most days. Since 2013, when he started playing regularly with the Royals, Cain has amassed 79 defensive runs saved, tied for third-most among MLB outfielders behind Kevin Kiermaier and Jason Heyward. Carlos Gomez holds the Brewers' single-season record with 32 defensive runs saved in 2013, but Cain has three seasons on his record (2013-15) that have been better than the second entry on the Brewers' list.

Soon after the Brewers finalized Cain's franchise record-setting $80 million, five-year contract, they told him he'd roam center field at Miller Park.

"It reassured me a bit," Cain said. "At the same time, I've played all over. It's not like I can't play right or left. But they reassured me I'm playing center, and that works for me."

Video: Lorenzo Cain is the No. 5 center fielder right now Yelich, acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Marlins on the same January day the Brewers signed Cain, received no such assurances. He grew up playing in the infield even though he says he probably always belonged in the outfield, where he's poised to add right field to his resume this spring.

Yelich became the first Marlins outfielder to win a Gold Glove Award in 2014 while playing left field, and he was a finalist for the award in 2015 and '16 before moving to center in 2017.

"I never played [right field] in the Minor Leagues, and I never really thought about it, honestly," Yelich said. "It's always good to be versatile. That's kind of where the game is headed, to be able to do multiple things."

Yelich is not known for having a cannon throwing arm, but he's accurate.

"It's new to him, so we'll get him some exposure there," Counsell said. "That's the plan right now. That's something that could change pretty fast, too, but that's the plan right now."

Video: Yelich on excitement to be a Milwaukee Brewer

The incumbent in right field is Santana, who is 25 years old and coming off a 30-homer, .875 OPS breakthrough in his first healthy Major League season. He does not fare well in defensive metrics, including minus-5 defensive runs saved, but said his defense is "on top" of his list of Spring Training priorities.

"Obviously, my offense is the first thing because if I don't hit, I'm not going to play," Santana said. "I know I have a long way to go to be as good as I need to be on defense. I just have to keep working."

Santana is "ready for whatever."

"We all are excited," he said. "This team really got better."

Video: Domingo Santana is the No. 8 right fielder right now

Then there's Braun

Braun is the wild card.

He arrived in the Majors in 2007 as a third baseman but moved to left field the following season. Aside from two seasons in right field to accommodate Khris Davis' two full seasons as Milwaukee's left fielder, Braun has been there ever since.

Playing some first base could ease the logjam in the outfield, though it creates questions of its own for the Eric Thames/Jesus Aguilar tandem. Early returns on Braun's infield work have been positive, Counsell said.

"One of our biggest strengths as a team right now is our depth," Braun said. "You look around, and I think we are two or three deep at just about every position with quality big leaguers. That's a good problem to have. That's not something I've been able to say throughout my 10 or 12 years with the organization in the Major Leagues."

If he stays healthy and performs near his 2016 level, when Braun's 134 weighted runs created plus ranked 10th in the National League, Counsell will be challenged to find enough plate appearances for everyone. But there is one big factor working in the manager's favor: Braun, Cain, Santana and Yelich all profile as top-of-the order hitters, which could help.

Last year, for example, Diamondbacks outfielders combined to log more than 3,000 plate appearances. In 2016, Cubs outfielders topped 3,400 plate appearances.

"It's a good problem to have," said Sedar. "If somebody goes down, boom, you put in a No. 1 outfielder. It's a pretty good place to be sitting as of right now."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain, Domingo Santana, Christian Yelich

Braun looking good taking reps at first base

Cain, Yelich make spring debuts in Brewers' split-squad victories
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- Early returns on Ryan Braun's work at first base have been positive, said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who plans to give Braun a few more practice days before slotting him into a Cactus League game next week.

"The actions look right. I guess that's the big thing we've heard from coaches who haven't ever seen him take ground balls," Counsell said.

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PHOENIX -- Early returns on Ryan Braun's work at first base have been positive, said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who plans to give Braun a few more practice days before slotting him into a Cactus League game next week.

"The actions look right. I guess that's the big thing we've heard from coaches who haven't ever seen him take ground balls," Counsell said.

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Spring Training information

Braun typically doesn't play much in Spring Training, but that is likely to change this year as he adds first base to his repertoire. The increased versatility could help free at-bats in the outfield, where the Brewers added Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich to a group that already had Braun and Domingo Santana.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The schedule doesn't offer many clues as to when Braun might make his first-base debut. The Brewers are home at Maryvale Baseball Park on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of next week. "We have to get through the unknowns and it's best for him to get through the unknowns," Counsell said. "There will be some. There are any time you tackle a new position. First base is a position with a lot of unique responsibilities. There's more instinctual plays and thinking plays than moving to the outfield, where what's going to be in front of you is really pretty standard.

"I actually think it's an advantage for Ryan because I think he'll be able to handle that really fast, but I think you have to go through it."

Game(s) on

Cain went 2-for-2 in a 6-5 Brewers win over the Giants in Scottsdale, and Yelich went 1-for-3 in a 2-1 win against the Cubs at Maryvale Baseball Park as the Brewers opened Cactus League play with a pair of split-squad victories on a chilly Friday afternoon.

"I think those guys wanted to get on the field and get this over with," said Counsell of the Brewers' most notable newcomers. "They're probably the most happy that today is over so they can move on to some different news stories."

Video: CHC@MIL: Yelich singles, picks up first spring hit

Said Cain: "The main goal is the same: Just get ready for the season. Whatever happens in spring happens in spring; whether you hit .400 or .200, your main goal is to make sure you're completely healthy for the season, because that's when the real grind starts."

The games also marked the start of a race for two open spots in the Brewers' starting rotation. Three of the six candidates pitched Friday and delivered a scoreless inning apiece -- Brent Suter and Junior Guerra against the Cubs, and Aaron Wilkerson against the Giants.

Tweet from @AdamMcCalvy: The Brewers will auction today's game-worn Stoneman Douglas High School caps and donate the proceeds to the Broward Education Foundation, which established the official Stoneman Douglas Victims Fund. I will pass along auction info when I have it. pic.twitter.com/LWO6cBbLBw

"It definitely felt good to get back out there," Suter said. "I'll be honest, the offspeed didn't feel great off the hand. I could definitely tell it was early Spring Training and not everything was clicking quite yet. I was telling Braun and some of the other guys, it's almost as much mental getting back into shape as it is physical."

Ohtani on tap

It will be a full house at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday, when Jonathan Villar takes the first cuts against Angels import Shohei Ohtani, the two-way Japanese star expected to pitch two innings in his unofficial U.S. debut. Chase Anderson, a potential Opening Day pick, will start for Milwaukee.

FS Wisconsin will pick up the Angels television broadcast of the 2:05 p.m. CT game, which is also available to MLB.TV subscribers. Bob Uecker and Jeff Levering have the call on the Brewers Radio Network.

"I'll take atmosphere every time. We're going into a fun atmosphere," Counsell said. "I think the players will tell you the same thing. Any time we can go into a fun atmosphere, we're excited for it."

Last call

It's too early to draw conclusions about the Brewers' plans for the regular season, but including Friday's openers, here is a look at how the candidates for Milwaukee's starting rotation are lined up at the moment:

Friday: Suter and Guerra vs. Cubs, Wilkerson at Giants
Saturday: Anderson and Brandon Woodruff at Angels
Sunday: Jhoulys Chacin, Yovani Gallardo and Wade Miley at D-backs

The only pitcher who did not yet know his assignment was Zach Davies, who expects to throw a live batting-practice session Sunday. He was not sure if the next step after that was a game.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich

Brewers to induct Jenkins into Walk of Fame

Former slugger Fielder, GMs Melvin, Dalton and Braves pitcher Buhl also earn honors
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- Geoff Jenkins, the Brewers' first-round Draft pick who bridged eras between County Stadium and Miller Park while becoming one of the most productive power hitters in franchise history, will be the 20th player inducted into the team's Walk of Fame.

That was not the only accolade announced Thursday. The Brewers also plan to add slugging first baseman Prince Fielder and former general managers Doug Melvin and Harry Dalton to the Brewers Wall of Honor, and the Brewers and Milwaukee Braves Historical Society announced they will add former All-Star pitcher Bob Buhl to the Braves Wall of Honor.

PHOENIX -- Geoff Jenkins, the Brewers' first-round Draft pick who bridged eras between County Stadium and Miller Park while becoming one of the most productive power hitters in franchise history, will be the 20th player inducted into the team's Walk of Fame.

That was not the only accolade announced Thursday. The Brewers also plan to add slugging first baseman Prince Fielder and former general managers Doug Melvin and Harry Dalton to the Brewers Wall of Honor, and the Brewers and Milwaukee Braves Historical Society announced they will add former All-Star pitcher Bob Buhl to the Braves Wall of Honor.

"It's a really, really cool honor when you get that phone call and they tell you you're the 20th person inducted to their Walk of Fame," Jenkins said. "It's one of those things where it makes you think about all the things you've done and all the people you've met and the journey you took."

Jenkins was the ninth-overall pick in the 1995 Draft and spent 10 of his 11 Major League seasons with the Brewers, including an All-Star appearance in 2003. When he finished his career, Jenkins was second in Brewers history in home runs (212) and slugging percentage (.496), fourth in RBIs (704) and fifth in hits (1,221) and runs (661).

Video: PIT@MIL Jenkins throws out the first pitch

These days, Jenkins is busy coaching baseball and softball games for his two kids, aged 9 and 11. It has been a natural transition, said Jenkins, who was already in place when the wave of Brewers prospects including Fielder came along and lifted the club to contention, just as Jenkins' tenure with the team was ending.

"That's something I've definitely always thought about -- [what] if I was born five years later?" Jenkins said. "But you don't know. The story might be different."

Jenkins' story turned out OK. He won the World Series with the Phillies in 2008, his final big league season.

Tweet from @Brewers: We are proud to announce the 2018 Brewers Wall of Honor & Walk of Fame classes!Prince Fielder will join former GMs Harry Dalton & Doug Melvin on the Wall of Honor and Geoff Jenkins will be enshrined into the Walk of Fame. MORE: https://t.co/yyEo6At1b1 pic.twitter.com/JGrmE0OkhI

Jenkins garnered votes from 27 of the 37 reporters and club executives who cast ballots for the Walk of Fame, the Brewers' highest honor short of number retirement. Former American League Cy Young Award winner Pete Vuckovich was next with 20 votes, five shy of the 65 percent required for induction. Ben Oglivie and Ben Sheets appeared on 19 ballots apiece.

A granite plaque in the shape of home plate bearing Jenkins' name will be installed on the plaza outside Miller Park on July 24, three days after Fielder, Melvin and Dalton are recognized in a ceremony of their own. Buhl will he posthumously honored on May 24.

The Wall of Honor is an installation outside Miller Park that honors players, coaches and executives based on a set of criteria for service to the organization. Melvin, the Brewers' general manager from the end of 2002 through '15, was thrilled to be inducted alongside a predecessor in Dalton, the architect of the great Brewers teams of the late 1970s and early '80s, and Fielder, one of the players who helped Melvin's own club rise to contention.

"I think our team had toughness [with Fielder] that it probably lacked prior to him," Melvin said. "I think that toughness brought us to a team that people feared at that point."

Video: Melvin to be added to Brewers' Wall of Honor

Melvin's favorite Fielder statistic is not the 50-homer season in 2007, but the fact Fielder played all but 13 of the Brewers' games during his six full seasons in Milwaukee.

"That's unheard of," Melvin said.

As for his own Brewers tenure, which included postseason appearances in 2008 and '11, Melvin said: "In 1972 I signed a contract out of a small town in Canada. I had a choice to sign a contract and play baseball for $1,000, and if I didn't I probably would have tried to make a curling team or something. I chose baseball, and how many years later, I feel honored."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Hiura, Burnes among top prospect performers

MLB.com

A number of baseball's brightest young talents starred on the opening day of Spring Training games, as top prospects from across the league flashed their immense potential.

Victor Robles (No. 6 overall) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (No. 8 overall) impressed on both sides of the ball while Lewis Brinson (No. 27 overall) showcased his diverse skill set in his inaugural game with the Marlins.

A number of baseball's brightest young talents starred on the opening day of Spring Training games, as top prospects from across the league flashed their immense potential.

Victor Robles (No. 6 overall) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (No. 8 overall) impressed on both sides of the ball while Lewis Brinson (No. 27 overall) showcased his diverse skill set in his inaugural game with the Marlins.

The day got off to a tough start when the baseball world discovered the Rays' Brent Honeywell (No. 18 overall) will likely need Tommy John surgery. The news turned more optimistic as the day went on with the excitement of Gleyber Torres (No. 5 overall) putting on a Yankees jersey and returning to game action for the first time in eight months.

Torres went 0-for-2, but his health is far more important than the on-field results, especially in late February.

Video: DET@NYY: Torres talks about his rehab, 2018 season

With all that being said, let's take a look at how some of the highly-touted youngsters performed on the field:

• Robles, the No. 6 overall prospect, has a particularly impressive toolset that makes it easy to see why he's so highly touted. After batting .250 in limited time with the Nationals last season, Robles worked his way onto the postseason roster and then performed well in the Arizona Fall League. The outfielder picked up right where he left off as he went 1-for-1 with a double, a walk and then showed off his 70-grade defense with a diving catch in center field.

Video: WSH@HOU: Robles extends, snags liner with a dive

• No. 8 overall prospect Tatis Jr., who hit a career-high 22 homers in 131 games last season, showed off some power with his first homer of the spring, a solo shot to right field in the eighth inning.

• No. 14 overall prospect Brendan Rodgers drove in a pair of runs in the Rockies' 7-6 loss against the D-backs. Rodgers collected an RBI groundout in the fifth and then capped his afternoon with a solo homer in the 10th.

• No. 22 overall prospect Willy Adames put the Rays on the board early as he drove in a run via a sacrifice fly in the first and later added a single as part of a 1-for-2 afternoon. While Adames got off to a quick start at the plate, Yonny Chirinos started fast on the mound. The 24-year-old right-hander put up a pair of zeros, walked one and gave up one hit in his first action of the year.

Video: TB@BAL: Adames plates Johnson on sac fly to center

• No. 27 overall prospect Brinson (Marlins' No. 1) showed off a bit of his skillset in his Marlins debut. Brinson, whom the Marlins acquired from the Brewers in January, made a diving catch in center and also doubled in a 1-for-2 effort.

Video: STL@MIA: Brinson lays out for a tough grab in debut

• No. 38 overall prospect Jack Flaherty (Cardinals' No. 2) was perfect with a pair of strikeouts in his two innings of work. Just as Flaherty was impressive starting the game, Jordan Hicks (Cardinals' No. 7) was impressive at the end. Hicks, who has already drawn rave reviews from his teammates, struck out a pair in a scoreless frame.

• The Pirates' No. 2 prospect (and No. 45 overall), Austin Meadows got off to a blazing start to Spring Training, going 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, a walk and two RBIs. Meadows has struggled with injuries to this point in his young career, but Pittsburgh is hoping for a breakout season in 2018 from the 22-year-old.

"Austin had a nice day. It was good for him," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Three barrels. Drove in some runs. Swung the bat well. He looked good."

Meadows hasn't played more than 100 games since 2015 as injuries have been a recurring problem during the early stages of his career.

"First things first. My body felt really good out there," Meadows said. "I felt healthy. I thought I was seeing the ball really well out there and things happened. It was a good first day."

• No. 56 overall prospect Keston Hiura can certainly hit. The Brewers' No. 1 prospect batted .442 at UC Irvine before the Brewers picked him ninth overall last season, then he hit .371 in 42 games across two levels in the Minors. So it only makes sense that Hiura began his 2018 campaign with a pair of knocks, going 2-for-3 with an RBI in the Brewers' win over the Giants.

Video: Burnes, Hiura on their first Spring Training games

• No. 58 overall prospect Kolby Allard threw a scoreless frame for the Braves. The 20-year-old walked the first batter he faced, but then induced a ground-ball double play and a flyout to finish off the outing.

• No. 69 overall prospect Corbin Burnes (Brewers' No. 2) had a breakthrough season in 2017 as he finished second in the Minors with a 1.67 ERA and was named the Brewers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Of course, one inning in February is just that, but Burnes did throw well as he struck out two in a perfect inning.

Video: CHC@MIL: Burnes caps off impressive frame with a K

Orioles No. 3 prospect Chance Sisco isn't a big power hitter considering he hit nine homers in 107 games between Triple-A Norfolk and Baltimore last season. However, the catching prospect put his pop on display in the ninth inning of the Orioles' 6-2 loss to the Rays. Sisco, who singled in his first at-bat and finished 2-for-2, provided all of Baltimore's offense with a three-run opposite-field homer.

Video: TB@BAL: Sisco cranks three-run homer to deep left

Astros No. 12 prospect Rogelio Armenteros struck out 146 batters in 123 2/3 innings across two levels last season and showed some of that swing-and-miss stuff against the Nationals. Armenteros struck out three of the first four batters he faced as he cruised through two hitless innings.

Video: WSH@HOU: Armenteros on strong Spring Training debut

Mets No. 16 prospect Corey Oswalt racked up four strikeouts in two scoreless frames. The right-hander struck out the first batter he faced in the sixth and then struck out the side in the seventh before exiting the game.

• Giants prospect Steven Duggar is going to get every opportunity to win a spot on the Opening Day roster, and he made a strong first impression with a two-run double in the second inning. Duggar, who finished 1-for-3, hit .262 in 44 games last season.

Video: MIL@SF: Duggar laces an RBI double to right field

William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Sky Sox invited Fergie to anthem auditions

The rendition of the national anthem by Fergie during Sunday night's NBA All-Star Game will forever resonate with anyone who witnessed it -- especially those in attendance. And while the reactions to her performance remain a bit harsh, there is someone willing to give her a chance to redeem herself: Sox the Fox.

Hiura leads new-look Top 30 Prospects list

MLB.com

What was expected to be another rebuilding year for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017 proved anything but that.

Brewers Top 30 Prospects list

What was expected to be another rebuilding year for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017 proved anything but that.

Brewers Top 30 Prospects list

After a fourth-place finish in the National League Central with a 73-89 record in 2016, the upstart Brewers added 13 wins last season (86-76) and nearly reached the playoffs, ultimately finishing one game back of the Colorado Rockies for the second Wild Card spot.

:: Team Top 30 Prospects lists ::

With few big names on the Brewers' roster, the club relied heavily on contributions from a host of young and unheralded players, many of whom ascended from the Minors over the course of the season.

Josh Hader, Milwaukee's No. 3 prospect at this time last year, arrived in June and quickly emerged as a shutdown reliever out of the bullpen. Logging 47 2/3 innings across 35 appearances, the dynamic left-hander struck out 36.2 percent of the batters he faced while also holding them to a .154 average. Outfielder Brett Phillips also performed well and saw regular playing time in September -- the same month that right-handers Brandon Woodruff and Taylor Williams also made their big league debuts.

The Brewers appear poised for even more success following the offseason additions of Christian Yelich, whom they acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Marlins, and Lorenzo Cain, a free agent. And although the Yelich trade cost Milwaukee a pair of Top 100 outfielders in Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison, and power-hitting second baseman Isan Diaz, their farm system remains strong heading into 2018.

Headlined by three Top 100 prospects in second baseman Keston Hiura, the Brewers' first-rounder in 2017, and right-handers Corbin Burnes and Woodruff, Milwaukee's system is a product of smart drafting and savvy trades by general manager David Stearns. In total, 27 of the Brewers' Top 30 prospects for 2018 entered the system via the Draft (19 players) or trades (eight).

Many of them could soon be in the big leagues, too, as the Brewers have 20 prospects slated to arrive in the next two years, including nine with a 2018 ETA.

Biggest jump/fall
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2017 preseason list to the 2018 preseason list.

Jump: Corbin Burnes, RHP (2017: 21 | 2018: 2); Adrian Houser, RHP (2017: NR | 2018: 13)
Fall: Phil Bickford, RHP (2017: 12 | 2018: NR)

Best tools
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.

Hit: 65 - Keston Hiura
Power: 55 - Lucas Erceg (Tristen Lutz, Jake Gatewood, Larry Ernesto)
Run: 60 - Corey Ray (Mauricio Dubon, Carlos Rodriguez, Je'Von Ward)
Arm: 70 - Lucas Erceg
Defense: 60 - Carlos Rodriguez
Fastball: 60 - Taylor Williams (Brandon Woodruff, Luis Ortiz, Freddy Peralta, Marcos Diplan, Adrian Houser, Caden Lemons, Jorge Lopez)
Curveball: 60 - Adrian Houser (Zack Brown)
Slider: 60 - Kodi Medeiros (Luis Ortiz, Marcos Diplan, Taylor Williams)
Changeup: 55 - Freddy Peralta (Brendan Murphy)
Control: 60 - Corbin Burnes

How they were built
Draft: 19
International: 3
Trade: 8
Free agent: 0
Rule 5: 0

Breakdown by ETA
2018: 9
2019: 11
2020: 3
2021: 5
2022: 2

Breakdown by position
C: 3
1B: 1
2B: 1
3B: 1
SS: 2
OF: 8
RHP: 12
LHP: 2

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Milwaukee Brewers

Williams brings electric arm to bullpen battle

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- Jesus Aguilar was no lock to make the Brewers' Opening Day roster last year, but he slugged his way to Miller Park by bashing seven home runs in 25 Cactus League games.

A year earlier, Yadiel Rivera won his spot with a series of clutch ninth-inning hits. Further back, the likes of Casey McGehee and Erick Almonte forced their way into the Opening Day mix with productive springs.

PHOENIX -- Jesus Aguilar was no lock to make the Brewers' Opening Day roster last year, but he slugged his way to Miller Park by bashing seven home runs in 25 Cactus League games.

A year earlier, Yadiel Rivera won his spot with a series of clutch ninth-inning hits. Further back, the likes of Casey McGehee and Erick Almonte forced their way into the Opening Day mix with productive springs.

As the Brewers begin Cactus League play on Friday with split-squad games at home against the Cubs and on the road against the Giants, opportunity abounds for the next dark horse to play his way to Milwaukee. Brewers manager Craig Counsell hasn't yet named his starting pitchers for the 2 p.m. CT games, one of which (against the Cubs) will be on MLB.TV.

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Here are a handful of dark horses to watch this spring:

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Taylor Williams

The hard-throwing right-hander missed two full seasons because of Tommy John surgery but returned in 2017 with 57 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings at Double-A Biloxi, which was followed by a surprise September callup. For the first time in years, he was free of restrictions this winter.

"It was huge confidence boost, I think," Williams said. "That was the biggest thing. I had the little bit of experience being with the team in Spring Training, but actually being up there in Milwaukee with the big league club and playing with the team when we were playing for the playoffs, it was big for me."

Tweet from @AdamMcCalvy: It���s the second day of live BP. Here, hit this from Taylor Williams. pic.twitter.com/Gl3V14wFH9

He has "no limits" this spring, and while he might be on the fringes of a full bullpen competition, Williams' electric arm is worth keeping an eye on. He turns 27 in July, so there is still plenty of time for a Major League career if he can stay healthy.

Aaron Wilkerson

This may be a stretch of the term "dark horse," since Wilkerson has been mentioned for weeks among the group of starting pitchers vying for a spot in the Opening Day rotation. He is an underdog based on where he stands relative to the other competitors for two open spots, a group that includes veterans like Yovani Gallardo and Wade Miley, others with a bit more experience like Junior Guerra and Brent Suter and a top pitching prospect in Brandon Woodruff.

But Wilkerson is in the mix, and he has a definite chance. He won a September callup last year by going 11-4 with a 3.16 ERA at Double-A Biloxi, and he pitched a seven-inning gem in St. Louis on the final day of the Major League regular season.

Video: MIL@STL: Wilkerson flirts with perfect game in win

Nate Orf

Versatility is key to Orf's outside chances this spring. He played all nine positions in a Class A Advanced game in 2014 and has significant experience at second base, third base and the corner-outfield spots. He's also adept at the plate, with a .385 on-base percentage in five Minor League seasons.

What would it take for Orf to make the cut? Probably an injury to Hernan Perez or Eric Sogard, who are similarly versatile and ahead of him on the depth chart.

Ernesto Frieri

Of the Brewers' non-roster invitees bidding for the bullpen, former Reds and D-backs reliever J.J. Hoover looks to have the best shot. So for a true dark horse, we'll go with Frieri, the former Angels closer who has made only six appearances in the Majors over the past two seasons. He didn't have much success in seven innings with Texas last year, but he was throwing as hard as he did when he saved 37 games for the Angels in 2013. If other pieces fall, Frieri's experience could make him appealing.

"It feels like two years ago I was the rookie," Frieri said. "Now I'm the old guy."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Taylor Williams

Brewers unveil Maryvale overhaul, set for '19

Owner Attanasio says facility will 'be state of the art'
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- The Brewers will contribute $56-$60 million to an overhaul of the Maryvale Baseball Park complex in time for 2019 Spring Training. A doubling of clubhouse space, new workout amenities including a massive weight room and a practice field that mimics the dimensions of Miller Park, and significant improvements to the main stadium concourse are planned.

Renderings unveiled Wednesday reveal the breadth of the construction project, set to break ground next month after the team plays its final Cactus League home game.

PHOENIX -- The Brewers will contribute $56-$60 million to an overhaul of the Maryvale Baseball Park complex in time for 2019 Spring Training. A doubling of clubhouse space, new workout amenities including a massive weight room and a practice field that mimics the dimensions of Miller Park, and significant improvements to the main stadium concourse are planned.

Renderings unveiled Wednesday reveal the breadth of the construction project, set to break ground next month after the team plays its final Cactus League home game.

"It is going to be state of the art," Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said. "We looked at every facility out here and tried to take the best of everything we saw. My excitement is only tempered by the fact that I don't know how they're going to get all this done in the next year."

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The project will be "substantially completed" by the start of 2019 Spring Training, the Brewers say, and will keep them anchored through 2042 in the west Phoenix facility they've occupied since 1998. It is the second-longest commitment in the Cactus League, according to the team.

Tweet from @Brewers: Big changes are coming to Maryvale Baseball Park in 2019! Details on the major renovation project: https://t.co/IdSntl7d1t pic.twitter.com/XGg6pOaYku

But to Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who took a video virtual tour of the project last week, it is not about cosmetics. It's about player development.

"It's important to understand this is a hub for the organization," Counsell said. "This is the hub for what a lot of what we do starts. Just think about this: As a Major League team, we spend 50-60 days here. We spend [81] days at Miller Park. So we spend quite a bit of time here.

"Then there's a whole other aspect. The player development part of the organization spends 200 days a year working here. So it's important. We're at the back end of teams that are doing this, we're late doing this. But we're going to have a facility next year that is going to be one of the best, we think, in the game."

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Counsell envisions a "campus feel" once the project is complete. A new building along the first-base side of the main stadium will connect with the current Major League clubhouse building to create one huge space, anchored by a massive weight room that serves players from all levels of the organization. It opens up onto a central agility field.

Renderings show the area open to fans heading toward the renovated stadium entrance for games.

In addition to their up-front contribution to construction costs, the Brewers will assume operation and maintenance of the facility. The City of Phoenix, which approved the project during a city council meeting in November, will allocate $2 million each year for the next five years for renovations, and the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority will contribute approximately $5.7 million on top of that.

Maryvale Baseball Park operates year-round, serving not only Spring Training but as the Brewers' medical center and home to a summer league team. The ballclub and the City of Phoenix have worked together over the years on updates, but the complex had fallen far behind comparable facilities in Arizona and Florida, leading the Brewers to look for alternatives in recent years.

At the same time, Brewers officials remained in touch with City of Phoenix officials, including District 5 Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, who according to Attanasio was instrumental in gaining approval for a project to keep the Brewers in place.

"I couldn't wait any longer, [so] I put a deadline in," Attanasio said. "Every year, we had a 'fair-haired bride' so to speak, a city of community that wanted us, including in Florida. It never quite got there, and we couldn't wait any longer, from my perspective, because player development is so important.

"I love the campus. I love the fact that we are here by ourselves. And the community has been very supportive of us."

The Brewers will have a ceremonial groundbreaking before the end of Spring Training. Construction is planned in stages to allow the Brewers' summer league team and its fall instructional program to play through the project.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

New Maryvale to enhance player, fan experience

Counsell: Burnes, Peralta can contribute in Majors this season
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- The moment the Brewers depart Maryvale Baseball Park at the end of next month, the dirt will start to fly.

In unveiling renderings of the upcoming renovation of their Spring Training home, the Brewers added additional detail to their planned overhaul of the complex. Here is a rundown of the upgrades expected in place by this time next spring:

PHOENIX -- The moment the Brewers depart Maryvale Baseball Park at the end of next month, the dirt will start to fly.

In unveiling renderings of the upcoming renovation of their Spring Training home, the Brewers added additional detail to their planned overhaul of the complex. Here is a rundown of the upgrades expected in place by this time next spring:

New clubhouse building: The centerpiece of the project is a new, two-story building to be constructed from home plate to the existing Major League clubhouse. It will contain locker rooms, a massive athletic training and strength training space, video facilities, plus a flagship retail store, ticket office and additional restrooms to serve the main stadium. In the process, the stadium's first-base concourse will be significantly widened, easing the bottleneck formed by fans entering the gates. The second floor will house offices for the baseball operations staff, with a balcony overlooking the field.

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The addition will double the current clubhouse and office space on site, from about 41,000 square feet to 82,000 square feet.

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"The mindset of everybody in the organization was if we're going to stay in Maryvale, we have to start over with the buildings," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That was always going to be the mindset."

New entry plaza: The main entrance, currently in the right-field corner, will be moved to behind home plate. That area will be anchored by the retail store, which will be open on non-game days as well as game days.

Repurposed Major League clubhouse: The existing clubhouse will be renovated to include facilities for psychological services, sports science, maintenance, grounds, a new right-field gate, ticket office and vendor commissary. The upper level of the existing building will become business operations offices with new finishes.

Batting tunnels: A new eight-lane batting tunnel will be constructed immediately south of the renovated Major League clubhouse. Two of the tunnels will be fully enclosed and air conditioned. 

Practice mounds: Currently, the Brewers have four mounds behind the main clubhouse and four more near the Minor League complex, but the renovation will feature eight new shaded pitching and catching mounds next to the batting tunnels.

Agility field: Tucked into the middle of the new complex will be a high-performance "agility field" of primarily natural grass.

The batting tunnels, mounds and agility field will all be located between the stadium and existing parking lots. It is expected that fans will circulate through these areas as they walk into the stadium, allowing them to interact with and watch players as they prepare for games.

A mirror of Miller Park: A high-performance natural turf practice field will be constructed at the site of the existing half-field to the east of the current Major League clubhouse. It will have dimensions and layout matching Miller Park in Milwaukee.

Visitors clubhouse: A new clubhouse for the visiting team and umpires will be constructed on the third-base side of the stadium and will double as a commissary for cooking, refrigeration and dry storage.

Field improvements: The main stadium outfield surface and the existing Major League practice field will be completely resurfaced with new turf, clay and warning tracks.

New scoreboard: For the first time in two decades of Maryvale Baseball Park, the Brewers will be able to show more than the line score and the batter's name. A new scoreboard will replace the relative antique currently in left field.

Brewers unveil Maryvale overhaul, set for '19

Prospect update

Counsell said he sees Brewers pitching prospects Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta as ready to contribute at the big league level as soon as the middle of this season. That came as welcome news to Peralta.

"It's good to hear that," Peralta said. "I feel very good now."

Peralta is No. 9 on MLB Pipeline's list of the Brewers' top prospects, but not for long. New Top 30 lists for National League Central clubs will be out Thursday.

Another prospect, Adrian Houser, is scheduled to be back on a mound Saturday for the first time since undergoing an appendectomy last month.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Attanasio tells Crew to seize opportunity in '18

Owner says this is Brewers' most talented squad since making it to '11 NLCS
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- Fourteen Spring Training speeches later, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio remains first a fan, which is why all these years later he was genuinely giddy Tuesday to stand and speak in front of a team of Major League ballplayers. When agent Scott Boras calls that guy to chat about Jake Arrieta or one of his other clients -- and Boras has been in touch -- the fan in Attanasio cannot help but get excited.

But then there is Attanasio's other side. He owns a multimillion-dollar corporation with hundreds of employees, including a group of analysts led by GM David Stearns whose job it is to make recommendations based on cold, hard data. That guy cannot afford to look at things solely through the lens of a fan.

PHOENIX -- Fourteen Spring Training speeches later, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio remains first a fan, which is why all these years later he was genuinely giddy Tuesday to stand and speak in front of a team of Major League ballplayers. When agent Scott Boras calls that guy to chat about Jake Arrieta or one of his other clients -- and Boras has been in touch -- the fan in Attanasio cannot help but get excited.

But then there is Attanasio's other side. He owns a multimillion-dollar corporation with hundreds of employees, including a group of analysts led by GM David Stearns whose job it is to make recommendations based on cold, hard data. That guy cannot afford to look at things solely through the lens of a fan.

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So, as Brewers officials consider whether to add more to the core of players already in camp -- whether that means signing a free agent like Arrieta or Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn, or trading from Milwaukee's bumper crop of outfielders -- the owner is somewhere in the middle.

"According to the analytics," Attanasio said, the Brewers' first full-squad workout serving as his backdrop, "we are going to score a lot of runs. That's not a surprise. And our pitchers are going to perform well above replacement level.

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"If you look at adding a pitcher, since that's part of the conversation, you need to look at the increment above what our guys are going to perform at, not at the absolute. We think a lot of these pitchers, including some of the younger ones, are going to perform at a high level. So David is going to be completely agnostic and look solely at that increment.

"As a fan, 'name' guys who have had success in the Major Leagues are exciting to add to the mix. It was very exciting to add Lorenzo Cain this year. It was very exciting to add Christian Yelich. And frankly, we think Jhoulys Chacin is going to pitch really well, especially with [pitching coach Derek Johnson] helping him on the pitching side. The ability to bring on guys who have demonstrated success always makes a team better.

Video: Yelich on excitement to be a Milwaukee Brewer

"I come at it from that standpoint. David comes at it from his agnostic standpoint. And [manager Craig] Counsell walked in on us today and said, 'It's up to you two guys. Let me know what you decide.' He didn't want any part of this discussion."

The discussion will continue, but on Tuesday, the focus was on players already at Maryvale Baseball Park. They gathered with coaches and front office officials and support staff just after 9:30 a.m. local time for a Spring Training tradition. Counsell reiterated his message of "connectedness" and, according to Attanasio, urged players to embrace the weight of expectations brought on by last year's 86-win surprise.

Attanasio gave a speech of his own, thanking players for the sacrifices they and their families make from Spring Training through the end of the season. After surprising the room last year with "don't eff it up" -- as in, don't squander the opportunities inherent in rebuilding -- he stressed carpe diem this year.

Seize the day.

"This year can really be special," Attanasio said. "Last year was a lot of fun, so if you can do something special and have fun, that's rare in life. Now that I've turned 60, I have some perspective on that. I tried to emphasize to the guys to embrace that. That's where carpe diem comes in."

Will Attanasio be disappointed if they fall short of the postseason? He did not directly answer, but he did say, "There's a lot of talent in that clubhouse. That's the most talent we've had since 2011."

The '11 Brewers made it to the National League Championship Series. Coincidentally, it was two established starting pitchers -- Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, each acquired via trade -- that put the team over the top.

"We try to bifurcate the conversation," Attanasio said. "We're always looking to add, and we don't want that to mask that we're really happy and excited about this group. We think this group right here, right now, can get to the playoffs. And if we want to supplement at midseason, we will always do that if we are in the hunt.

"That said, we are always trying to make the team better. They are working hard, still, on available free agents. They are working hard on potential trades."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers