ST. LOUIS -- Jackson Chourio, the No. 2 prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline, is set to make his Triple-A debut on Tuesday night when the Nashville Sounds host Jacksonville in the final, six-game series of the season.
When the Brewers announced Chourio’s promotion from Double-A Biloxi on Monday, the question was this: What can be gained in just one week?
“It’s a fair question,” Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan said. “No. 1, it gives him that taste of what Triple-A is going to be like for him next year, hopefully. It gets him acclimated. They’re playing at home, which is good. He can get used to the surroundings, and assuming he shows up there next year at the start of the season, it’s one less variable that he needs to adjust to. So, it’s just another test.
“And then, it’s a reward for him for the year that he’s had. I think it’s a win for him on a few different fronts.”
Chourio has been racking up wins for two years now, since he rocketed up prospect lists last season and continued to rise throughout a 2023 spent entirely at Double-A Biloxi until Monday’s promotion.
Asked what stood out about Chourio’s season, Flanagan said, “I think it’s a lot of the same.”
In this case, considering what Chourio accomplished as an 18-year-old in 2022, that’s high praise. This year, finishing the Double-A season as the fourth-youngest player in the Southern League, the 19-year-old Chourio posted a .280/.336/.467 slash line with 22 home runs and 43 stolen bases. He dropped his strikeout rate while keeping his modest walk rate relatively steady. He was the first Double-A player since at least 2005 to record a 20/40 season and the first teenager to post a 20/20 season in Double-A or Triple-A since Delmon Young in 2005. Chourio’s 112 wRC+ was tied for 14th-best in the league behind older, more experienced hitters.
“You still have to realize that what he’s doing at that age at that level, it’s pretty special,” Flanagan said. “Looking back, even though he has a week to go in Nashville, one thing is he was able to remain healthy. He might have had a nagging thing here or there, but for the most part, he logged a ton of plate appearances and gained all of that experience in a really good league.
“All in all, there are a lot of things to be really pleased with about his year.”
Also promoted to Triple-A on Monday was right-hander Carlos F. Rodriguez, MLB Pipeline’s No. 6 Brewers prospect, who posted a 2.77 ERA in 25 starts for Biloxi. He was Milwaukee’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2022, and Chourio was Minor League Player of the Year.
Rodriguez will probably get a start or an extended relief outing sometime in the middle of this week.
“He really didn’t miss a beat,” Flanagan said. “Start after start, he continued to throw good outings. If you remember back to the World Baseball Classic [when Rodriguez started for Nicaragua in Miami], that was a big test for him in his hometown. He just kept building and building.”
What lies ahead next year? Especially in the case of Chourio, it’s a tantalizing question for a Brewers team that saw outfielders Garrett Mitchell, Joey Wiemer and Sal Frelick all graduate from prospect status in 2023. All three ranked in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 at some point before making it to the Majors.
How Chourio would fit in that group is a question for a later date. The Brewers always seem to find a spot for a player even when the field appears crowded, and Chourio will surely need some more Triple-A seasoning in 2024 before he’s considered for a callup.
He won’t turn 20 until March 11.
“We speak glowingly of him, and deservedly so, but he still has a ways to go, no doubt,” Flanagan said. “He’s a special talent but he’d be the first to tell you there are always areas he can try to get better.
“He worked really hard this year and it was huge for him to stay healthy and keep building on what he did last year. Looking ahead to next year, it puts him in a really good spot.”