Frelick's hot start lands him on Top 100 list

August 20th, 2021

ST. LOUIS -- Brewers first-round Draft pick Sal Frelick, off to a scorching start in the pro ranks, checked in at No. 96 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects list when the post-Draft update dropped Wednesday night.

He’s one of two Brewers outfield prospects in baseball’s Top 100, with last year’s first-round pick, Garrett Mitchell, moving up to No. 56. He was ranked 69th at this time last year.

Frelick, an outfielder out of Boston College, got his baseball legs back under him at the Brewers’ training complex in Arizona before going 7-for-15 in four games in the Arizona Complex League and earning a quick promotion to Class A Carolina. He entered Thursday slashing .395/.425/.526 with his first professional home run among his 15 hits in his first seven games, including a five-hit performance on Tuesday.

Mitchell, meanwhile, has played for advanced Class A Wisconsin and Double-A Biloxi this season. Thanks to huge numbers at Wisconsin, Mitchell’s overall OPS so far is .865, but he has found tougher sledding at Biloxi, where he entered Thursday slashing .191/.303/.298 and had missed some time with an illness.

Wednesday’s update from MLB Pipeline also included updated club Top 30 lists. The Brewers’ 2021 Draft picks on the list include Frelick (No. 2), Tyler Black (No. 7), Wisconsin native Alex Binelas (No. 17), Russell Smith (No. 19) and Logan Henderson (No. 21). 

Of players who were already in the system, the biggest jumps belonged to a pair of outfielders; Joe Gray Jr. went from the edges of the Top 30 all the way to No. 9 on the strength of a solid 2021 season so far, and Korry Howell, a 12th round Draft pick in 2018 who has developed tremendous power this year, checked in at No. 15 in his first appearance in the Brewers Top 30.

Yelich bunts

Will Wednesday’s surprise bunt for what turned into the Brewers’ winning run be the thing that turns around Christian Yelich’s season? 

It had been a promising road trip for Yelich going into Thursday’s series finale at St. Louis. He was 10-for-35 in the first nine games of the trip with a trio of doubles, and started nine of the 10 games including both ends of a doubleheader in Pittsburgh over the weekend. That’s a good sign the back trouble that derailed Yelich earlier this year is not a factor as he continues searching for the power production he displayed in 2018 and ‘19 with Milwaukee.

“I keep chipping away, battling, putting the work in, but baseball is one of those sports where just because you're putting in the work, it doesn't mean you're going to get results,” Yelich said. “You just have to keep going out there, keep competing, just try to contribute to helping the team win. It starts changing that way. Helping the team win is your focus. I've been feeling a little better personally but my goal every night is to just do something to help the team win.”

That’s what he did with Wednesday’s bunt, capitalizing on third baseman Nolan Arenado’s ejection an inning earlier and a moment of Cardinals discombobulation in the wake of a go-ahead wild pitch.

So, Yelich pushed a bunt to third base, and though it was a bit too firm and not as close to the line as he would have liked, he got to first thanks to his plus speed. Then he scored from first when the right fielder bobbled Jace Peterson’s single.

“There’s a lot of positives in his last 6-7 games,” Brewers hitting coach Andy Haines said. “There’s things trending in the right direction. He came out of Spring Training ready, man. For me, there’s always multiple things, but in Spring Training he got going there at the end and was ready and I was excited, and if you look back in hindsight it was the choppiness of it.

“It was here [at Busch Stadium]. He rounded third base and came up with [a stiff] back, and for whatever reason when he came back it was there for a couple of days, then a couple of steps back. It’s been choppy. To perform offensively, you can’t be choppy. You have to get hot and have a hot streak. And he hasn’t had that.

“Is it coming? You know me, I’m going to say yeah, it’s coming.”

Until then, Yelich is trying to do the little things.

“It’s about helping the team win,” Haines said. “That’s on Christian’s mind and I think it comes from a genuine place. He knows he has not contributed to the level he knows he can and what he expects. He’s watching us win a lot of games and be where we are, I think it’s the responsibility he feels, like, ‘Alright, I’m going to find a way every day to do anything I can to help us win.’ It shows you who he is.”

Last call

Freddy Peralta is on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation, but the Brewers might not need a replacement starter during his absence because they have a six-man rotation and an off-day on the schedule on Monday. If they elect to stay on this schedule, the first day they would need a sixth starter is Aug. 29 -- the day Peralta is eligible to come off the IL.