Good or bad, every 'MLB first' matters for Chourio

April 16th, 2024

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 -- The firsts are mostly out of the way now for Brewers phenom . First big league camp. First big league Opening Day. First hit. First RBI. First home run. First strikeout with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie ballgame.

Yes, even the bad outcomes are worth cataloging for MLB Pipeline’s No. 2 overall prospect, as Milwaukee manager Pat Murphy sees it.

“I’m excited about Chourio getting a chance to hit with a game-winning situation on the line and not having success. It sounds crazy, but you have to learn from them,” Murphy said on April 5, the night William Contreras followed Chourio’s strikeout with a walk-off walk to beat the Mariners. “We’ve got one of the younger teams in Major League Baseball. We’d probably have one of the youngest teams in Triple-A.”

Baseball-Reference has its own way of looking at team ages using a weighted method that accounts for playing time. By those measures, the Brewers are the third-youngest position-player group (behind the Guardians and A’s) and the eighth-youngest pitching group.

Chourio, the youngest player in the Majors, is the poster child for that.

“The part that people miss is that everything is new, and he’s competing against guys who have done this a lot longer than him,” said Brewers hitting coach Connor Dawson before Chourio smacked his third career home run in Monday’s loss to the Padres. “Like tonight, he’s facing [San Diego starter] Joe Musgrove. Jackson has never seen anything like this. And he’s handling everything. I think it’s been a really good first two weeks for him.”

Dawson and Ozzie Timmons, the Brewers’ co-hitting coaches, have walked a fine line with Chourio. On one hand, they are there to feed him all the information he needs to succeed. On the other hand, they don’t want to overload a young player learning so much all at once -- from the language of Major League Baseball to the English language itself.

The Brewers have opted for a direct approach to communication, with no mincing words. Take the day after Chourio’s ninth-inning strikeout against Seattle. Chourio was 0-for-2 after what Murphy called “horrid” at-bats before popping his first Major League home run.

“When you’ve got young players like that, you have to live through those first [two] at-bats -- they were horrid,” Murphy said. “I’m thinking to myself, ‘Wow, this kid is going through some growing pains and is being taught a lesson here.’ Then to come back and [hit a big home run], it shows you what this kid is made of.

“We’re going to go through some growing pains with this group, but I like how they compete.”

Chourio is inching toward his graduation from prospect status. He has 54 at-bats and will graduate once he exceeds 130 at-bats in the big leagues.

Around the system

Here’s a look back at last week in Milwaukee’s Minor League chain, with a big assist from Brewers media relations intern Daniel Crooks:

Triple-A Nashville: The Sounds split their six-game series in Memphis against the Cardinals’ top affiliate while learning they’d be without one of their highest-profile players, catcher Jeferson Quero, for the remainder of the season. Quero, No. 3 on MLB Pipeline’s Brewers top prospects list and No. 33 on the overall Top 100, will undergo surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Double-A Biloxi: The Shuckers will be without No. 6 prospect Brock Wilken for the foreseeable future after he was hit in the face by a pitch on Thursday. Losing his bat is a significant blow to the lineup, but pitching has led the way for Biloxi, which has limited opponents to three or fewer runs in seven of nine games this season, including only four earned runs over the past four games. The Shuckers’ 1.97 ERA is the third-best mark across the Double-A level.

High-A Wisconsin: Third baseman Mike Boeve (No. 14 prospect), Milwaukee’s second-round Draft pick last year, was 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored and a walk in Sunday’s win at South Bend to extend his on-base streak to nine games. Boeve went into Tuesday slashing .481/.590/.519 and has drawn 10 walks (compared to four strikeouts) in 39 plate appearances for the Timber Rattlers. His .481 (13-for-27) batting average is tops in the Minors so far.

Single-A Carolina: The Mudcats are 8-1 on the strength of a Carolina League-leading .283 team batting average. The early-season MVP is first baseman Tayden Hall, who is hitting .455/.613/.636 (10-for-22) with nine walks in 31 plate appearances.