Brewers' top pick gets Major League experience

September 12th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Adam McCalvy’s Brewers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

MILWAUKEE -- A day after High-A Wisconsin finished its season with a win, the Brewers’ first-round Draft pick took another round of batting practice.

And as it turns out, Brock Wilken’s season isn’t over just yet.

The 21-year-old third baseman, drafted 18th overall by the Brewers out of Wake Forest and Milwaukee’s No. 7 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was promoted to Double-A Biloxi on Tuesday to play the Shuckers' final week of the regular season as that club pushes for a spot in the Southern League playoffs. It will take at least four victories in their six-game series at home against Montgomery to make the cut.

For Wilken, it’s another step in what has already been a memorable week. He signed his contract on July 17 while the Brewers were on the road, so he didn’t get to experience the red carpet treatment the team likes to give its prominent picks. Instead, Wilken went off to begin his career in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League before a promotion to Wisconsin, where he delivered an .865 OPS in 34 games capped by a walk and a run scored in Sunday’s 8-5 win over Cedar Rapids.

A day later, Wilken drove down the road to American Family Field to meet some future teammates.

“It’s like being a little kid,” Wilken said. “I’m like a fangirl out here, being able to take BP in a big league stadium and getting to be with some of these guys like [Christian] Yelich and [Willy] Adames and [Brice] Turang. Getting to have conversations with those guys and seeing what it’s like to be up here. This is obviously the end goal for me, to stay here for a while.”

The Brewers drafted Wilken for his bat -- he tied the ACC career home run record with 71 -- but he made strides this summer with his glove at third base, a position that suddenly looks a lot stronger in Milwaukee’s pipeline with players such as Tyler Black (No. 4 in the Brewers' system), Wilken, fellow 2023 Draft pick Eric Bitonti (No. 11), Luke Adams (No. 22) and Juan Baez (No. 24) all seeing time at the hot corner.

When he talked about the offseason ahead, Wilken mentioned “getting faster, getting stronger, getting quicker in every aspect, on defense and offense.” It was notable that he mentioned defense first.

“I want to get better at everything, but defense is a big point [of focus],” Wilken said. “I’ve been playing really good defense as of late so I need to continue doing that.”

Wilken knows he will work over the offseason in Tampa with his uncle, a former Minor Leaguer, but as of Monday afternoon he said he hadn’t yet been handed an assignment for the fall. He was ready to ride the high of Monday afternoon into whatever is next. 

“They make you feel right at home,” Wilken said. “You’re one of the guys, practicing and getting ready for the game today.”