GM gives hint on where Chourio could begin 2023

Arnold talks top prospects, big league logistics in fan Q&A

March 22nd, 2023

PHOENIX -- The Brewers pushed top prospect in 2022 and saw him respond brilliantly. So why not push him again?

During a forum with season ticket holders on Tuesday, Milwaukee general manager Matt Arnold said there’s a chance Chourio -- MLB Pipeline's No. 8 overall prospect -- will begin this season where he finished 2022, with Double-A Biloxi. Chourio had a brief six-game stint with Biloxi last year as part of a breakthrough season in which he compiled an .880 OPS and rocketed up prospect lists.

“We’re still working through our roster construction in the Minor Leagues, and there are a lot of cascading effects that honestly trickle down from the Major Leagues,” Arnold said. “But I would probably say it’s likely that he starts in Double-A. Don’t hold me to that, because I know we’re still having real conversations with it. But he did get there last year at 18 years old.

“We’re in a room here with our international scouts, and they’re like, ‘Man, he’s gotten bigger.’ He’s growing into being this monster, honestly. He’s a very talented player. I don’t want to put any timetable on it; I don’t think that’s really fair to a 19-year-old kid. But I will say that if he’s playing well, [Brewers manager] Craig [Counsell] is going to be pulling on me -- and we’re going to be pulling on [Chourio], frankly -- to see what he can do in Milwaukee.”

Here's more from Arnold’s question-and-answer session with fans:

Which prospects have made the most of extra playing time while Major Leaguers are away at the World Baseball Classic?

Arnold: A couple that stood out: I would say in our bullpen was a guy that got more opportunity in camp while he was here, and [he] threw the ball really, really well. We saw get an extended look here in camp, and he’s done really well. We all knew Joey coming in, but his maturity showed up. His athleticism continues to show up. He has been hitting the ball hard everywhere. He beat out a ball on the infield today and continues to show the tremendous athleticism. … I think a guy off the radar -- has done a nice job, especially defensively. He’s an interesting guy that’s off the radar and has done a nice job in camp athletically.

Who will be the Brewers’ setup man now that  is the closer?

Arnold: It’s a good question, and I don’t know that we have a lot of those things in place yet. We have a lot of guys with a lot to prove in our bullpen, but we have a lot of interesting arms. … We have seen a number of examples in the past, like or , who have stepped up. Peter was not even in Major League camp and did a really nice job for us. We know that there will be guys who have the opportunity to step up, and it’s up to Craig to put those guys in the right order.

What would he tell fans worried about the economics of smaller-market teams?

Arnold: We’re never going to complain about the economics. The rules are the rules, and we’re going to do everything we can. It’s on us. We have to be more creative. We have to be more aggressive. We have to scout better, we have to develop better, we have to have better technology and we have to integrate those things from end to end to be better. The economics are tilted in this game, but we have been able to put a competitive team on the field here for a while, and I think it makes it even more fun and more challenging and more exciting when we win it.

We’ve run record payrolls here for several years in a row. That’s something that sometimes gets lost in the conversation. This is a team that [principal owner] Mark Attanasio and his family have supported tremendously well over the last couple of years. We’re not cratering this team, we’re doing everything we can, every day, to win baseball games.

Will the disappearance of the infield shift help ?

Arnold: I think that could be a factor. There are so many different standards when you talk about a guy who’s potentially coming off being the best player in the world, right? The standards for those kinds of guys are so high, and it’s almost impossible to sustain that for a career. But he’s still been a very good player in a lot of ways. It’s in different ways. It’s not necessarily through home runs; it’s through stolen bases, through doubles, through getting on base and being a table-setter at the top of our lineup. He’s been a dynamic guy, and I’m excited to see what he’s going to do this year.