Believe the hype: Chourio dazzles with bat, arm

MLB's No. 8 prospect rips 2 doubles, throws out runner at home in spring debut

March 9th, 2023

PHOENIX -- Top Brewers prospect Jackson Chourio was asked recently to assess the best part of his game. He didn’t hesitate.

“To hit,” the 18-year-old said, cracking a smile.

Is hitting the best thing about baseball? Again, no hesitation.

“Yes,” he said. “I like it a lot and I feel like I’m really good at it.”

That was evident again on Wednesday, when the No. 8 prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 hit the ball hard three times with a pair of doubles to show for it, walked, scored twice and threw out a runner at home plate from left field in the Brewers’ 8-2 win over Great Britain’s World Baseball Classic club at American Family Fields of Phoenix.

It was just an exhibition, but it was nonetheless a promising spring debut for a player who won’t turn 19 until Saturday and is coming off a sensational season in which he rocketed from Low-A Carolina to High-A Wisconsin to Double-A Biloxi. Chourio is the most hyped Brewers prospect in years.

“Well, hype is great,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “The player earns the hype. You should celebrate it because the player earned it; absolutely he earned it. At the same time, those hurdles, the player learns they never stop. Somebody keeps putting a hurdle in front of them. Somebody keeps putting something else in front of them. It's neverending.

“I'm sure he's started to feel that. He's got to perform for the rest of his life, you know? He got exposed to the rest of the world for the first time last year, and hopefully he does that stuff for 20 years.”

Counsell had originally considered fielding an all-prospect lineup against Team Britain, which started Mariners top prospect Harry Ford at catcher, but an off-day just two days earlier meant the Brewers had to keep many of their Major League mainstays on schedule. The exception was Chourio, who is not in Major League camp but drew the start as the left fielder and No. 9 hitter.

Chourio had a busy day. He doubled down the third-base line and scored in the second inning, hit a hard double-play grounder to third base in the fourth and then lined a double over the left fielder’s head and scored again in the sixth. In the top of the sixth, he threw out a runner at home plate to end the inning. And in the eighth, after shifting over to finish his day as the Brewers’ center fielder, he worked a walk and scored again.

He wasn’t the only prospect to shine. Hendry Mendez, Pipeline's No. 17 Brewers prospect who was in the same January 2021 international signing class as Chourio, scalded a two-run home run following Chourio’s second double.

Chourio isn’t a stranger to the Brewers’ Major Leaguers. Last year, he got into six Cactus League games, including a start in left field against the Royals next to center fielder Lorenzo Cain. And this past winter, he spent some time at Milwaukee’s complex taking batting practice with the likes of Garrett Mitchell and Keston Hiura -- two former first-round Draft picks who know all about prospect hype.

“It feels really good to have an opportunity to hit with big leaguers,” Chourio said. “They try to give you advice. It feels really good. At the same time, it feels like you can do it as well.”

He looked like he could do it on Wednesday.

“He’s a hitter, man. It’s not hard to see,” Counsell said. “We sent him over here for game number one and he put up four good at-bats. That’s impressive in itself, no matter if you’re highly touted or not. He’s a good baseball player with an extremely bright future ahead of him.”