Black is back healthy and mashing at Double-A

April 23rd, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers infield prospect Tyler Black is healthy again. 

That means he’s hitting again, too. 

Black, drafted 33rd overall by the Brewers in 2021 and ranked Milwaukee’s No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, reached safely in his first 12 games for Double-A Biloxi with a 165 wRC+ going into Sunday, good for second in Milwaukee’s Minor League system behind Triple-A veteran Eddy Alvarez’s 189.

After reaching base multiple times on both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader at Rocket City, the 22-year-old Canadian was slashing .243/.442/.514 with three home runs and more walks (11) than strikeouts (10). 

“You’re excited to see him get off to this kind of start coming off two significant injuries last year,” said Tom Flanagan, the Brewers’ vice president of player operations and baseball administration. “Seeing a healthy Tyler Black is a pretty good player.”

Black was not healthy for much of 2022. He fractured his last shoulder blade at High-A Wisconsin last July and missed the remainder of the regular season. The plan was for Black to pick up at-bats in the Arizona Fall League, but he went down after 17 games with a fractured left thumb that required surgery.

After a winter of rehab, Black was back to 100 percent at about the same time Brewers Minor Leaguers ramped up baseball activities in Spring Training. And he promptly started performing again.

“It’s great that with the time off, the missed at-bats last year, to see him hit the ground running this year,” Flanagan said. “The best thing about it is the strike zone discipline. That doesn’t really go into slumps for him. He takes so much pride in that, and I think that really helps him coming back from things. Sure, he needs timing like everyone else, but knowing his purpose up at the plate goes a long way with him.

“So, it’s great to see him taking more walks than he’s punching out. It’s great to see some home runs because you never know with a hand injury how long it’s going to take to get that strength back. He’s a tough kid and a strong kid, too.”

The Shuckers swept Saturday’s doubleheader with 10 strikeouts from starter and No. 1-ranked prospect Jackson Chourio’s first three-hit game at the Double-A level in Game 2. Chourio has a .710 OPS through his first 14 games this season.

Here’s more from a couple of other spots in Milwaukee’s system:

Triple-A Nashville
The Sounds rather quickly went from having too many outfielders to just enough, with Joey Wiemer called up to the big leagues after one game and ’ promotion to the Majors last week in the wake of ’s serious shoulder injury, and now Sal Frelick (sprained left thumb) and (bruised shoulder) on the 7-day injured list. The Brewers will learn more this week about how much time Frelick will miss after he gets a second opinion; Naquin is expected back Tuesday after being hit by a pitch on a bad spot on his shoulder.

“It went from having guys double parked to a little thin,” Flanagan said. “We left Spring Training with a lot of outfielders there, and we don’t have that level of depth now. But we have Skye Bolt out there, Monte Harrison pretty much holding down center field and Keston [Hiura] playing some left field and actually playing really well out there. And then some of the infielders, you can take out there with no problem.

“That’s something we always preach, having guys who are more versatile. When you have these situations where you get a little thinner than you want, it certainly helps when you have guys who can jump out there for a game or a stretch of games and keep things going.”

Low-A Carolina
Catcher Matthew Wood, last year’s fourth-round pick out of Penn State, has been an early-season glue guy for the Brewers’ lowest full-season affiliate. Wood, 22, ranked third in the system as of Sunday morning with a 161 wRC+ while slashing .313/.450/.469. 

Wood’s contributions go beyond what he’s done in the batter’s box, said Flanagan. 

“He’s a very mature player for a first full season,” Flanagan said. “He has a lot of experience coming in the door [compared to the rest] of a young Carolina club. I think in addition to taking care of his own business, he’s a guy who the young Carolina pitching staff looks to lead the way. He’s done a nice job behind the dish in the early going here.”