Quero blows out candles with big day in AFL

October 11th, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brewers catching prospect Jeferson Quero just turned 20 years old on Saturday, but his Glendale Desert Dogs had a night game that involved 24 runs, so it’s not like he got to go out and celebrate.

“I didn’t have time,” said Quero, the Brewers’ No. 7 prospect. “The game was at night; I was at my house at 11:30 p.m.”

While the built-in off-day in the Arizona Fall League schedule did allow the young catcher to go out to a restaurant for dinner, his real celebration came on Monday in Salt River. Quero went 4-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI at the plate while throwing out two runners trying to steal from behind it. So far, the dish has been his domain in the AFL.

“It’s my gift,” Quero, the seventh-youngest player in the Fall League this year, said with a smile. “It’s nice. I feel good at home plate. Hitting and my arm has been good.”

Good might be showing a bit too much humility, especially in terms of his prowess defensively. During the 2022 regular season between two levels of A ball (75 with Single-A Carolina and 20 up a level with High-A Wisconsin), Quero threw out 30.6 percent of potential basestealers. He’s upped his game so far this fall, with the two runners he nabbed on Monday bringing his caught-stealing percentage to a very impressive 60 percent (six out of 10). In Glendale’s 8-3 win over Salt River, Quero recorded a 1.93 pop time to get Cardinals prospect Masyn Winn and whittled that down to 1.89 to throw out the Rockies’ Grant Lavigne. It’s clearly something he takes great pride in.

“I love catching,” said Quero, who will watch any big league catcher at any time to try to learn from what he sees. “I love throwing. It’s my passion, to catch. Always.”

Heading into Monday’s game, Quero hadn’t gotten his bat going, with an 0-for-7 start over the AFL’s first week, though he had drawn three walks against three strikeouts. He brought that .000 up to .333 with his four hits, starting with a single to right field off of Cardinals starter Connor Thomas in the second inning, following that with a double down the right-field line off of Thomas in the fourth.

In the bottom of that inning, Cardinals top prospect Jordan Walker hit his second homer of the fall, a solo shot that was blistered (107.8 mph exit velocity) out to left-center (434 feet away) to give Salt River a 1-0 lead. Thomas ended up going five shutout frames, scattering six hits, walking just one and striking out five while getting six ground-ball outs.

Quero changed that in the top of the sixth. Facing hard-throwing Blue Jays reliever Hagen Danner, Quero sent a 97-mph fastball the other way to bring in organization-mate Tyler Black to tie things up. A double by White Sox infielder Moises Castillo, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, and an RBI single from Twins first baseman Alex Isola gave the Desert Dogs a 3-1 lead.

Quero’s final at-bat came in the eighth, and he made the most of it, with an RBI double to right-center that was hit 106.6 mph off his bat. That made it 7-3 and Quero would eventually score on a wild pitch to close out the scoring. He’s never been one to shy away from using the whole field, but it was striking that all four of his hits went the other way. It may have been more about him opening up a little too soon than anything else, but he was able to keep his hands back long enough to make solid enough contact to rack up those first three hits (the fourth one was hit on the screws).

“It’s something I do sometimes,” Quero said. “When I feel my body is this way [pointing towards left], I can hit it that way.”

Given Quero’s ability to impact the game on both sides of the ball, it begs the question: What would he rather do, win a game on a walk-off hit, or end it by throwing out a runner? It took him less time to answer than it does for him to get the ball to second base.

“Throwing out a runner. I just love doing it.”