Quero (shoulder) opts for surgery, to miss about 9 months

April 10th, 2024

CINCINNATI -- Triple-A Nashville catcher will undergo season-ending surgery for a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, delaying until 2025 the rapid ascent of one of baseball’s top catching prospects.

Quero, 21, the No. 3-ranked Brewers prospect according to MLB Pipeline and No. 33 on the MLB Top 100 Prospects list, dislocated his right shoulder in his Triple-A debut when he dove back to first base. After being examined by Brewers team doctors, Quero sought a second opinion from shoulder guru Dr. Barry Meister, the same surgeon who repaired Milwaukee starter Brandon Woodruff’s shoulder last fall, and elected for a surgical route that will sideline Quero for approximately nine months.

“We do expect a full and healthy return by Spring Training of 2025,” Brewers general manager Matt Arnold said. “He wanted to get this taken care of so he’s ready for next season. He’s confident in it. We have faith in Dr. Meister to get him back to full health. It’s a tough loss. His season is almost certainly done and I feel bad for the kid, but we still firmly believe in him. He’s a tremendous kid, a tremendous player and we still feel he has a very bright future.”

Originally signed out of Barquisimeto, Venezuela in 2019, Quero has consistently performed in the Minors as one of the youngest players on each of his teams. He’s slashed .278/.350/.445 in parts of four Minor League seasons while showing an advanced command of catching and a sensational throwing arm. Arnold said the Brewers’ medical team is confident that Quero’s arm will remain an asset after he recovers from surgery.

Quero, who will undergo the surgery as soon as next week, did have the option of trying a non-surgical rehab, according to Arnold. But that carries its own risks, since a setback later on means surgery is only delayed, and thus a comeback is pushed deeper into next season.

“Ultimately that’s up to the player to decide that,” Arnold said. “We felt like the best path here to make sure he gets back to full health was to elect to have surgery at this time.”

Quero was in Milwaukee being evaluated during the Brewers' opening homestand, giving some of the coaches who have worked with him most closely in recent years -- manager Pat Murphy, field coordinator Néstor Corredor and bullpen coach Charlie Greene -- an opportunity to do their best to lift Quero's spirits. Corredor and Greene took him out to dinner.

Before joining the big league staff, Greene was Milwaukee's catching coordinator, so he knows Quero as well as anyone in the organization.

"He's crushed, but we're trying to help him," Greene said. "He's got age on his side, you know? He's one of our crown jewels and you hate seeing it [happen] on a freak play. How many times has he dove back into first base in his life? Devastating news. It happened on Opening Day and we were coming off the field [in New York] and somebody says, 'Quero left the game.'

"Tough one. But he's not the first guy to lose a year to injury and we've done a good job of bringing guys back."

Said Murphy: "I told him this: A lot of great Major League players, some in the Hall of Fame, experienced a serious injury. Be diligent about your rehab."

The Brewers have one of MLB’s best catchers in William Contreras, a 2023 Silver Slugger Award winner who has made a quantum leap forward on the defensive side since the Brewers traded for him two offseasons ago. Contreras is just 26 and still has three years of club control beyond this season.

In the short term, the Brewers’ organizational catching depth starts with big league backup Gary Sánchez and Eric Haase and recently signed Francisco Mejía and Brian Navarreto in Nashville. The Brewers picked up Mejía in the wake of Quero’s injury.

"Like I said, he's got age on his side," Greene said of Quero. "I know he'll attack rehab the same way he plays. It's just a different path for him now."