PHOENIX -- With Opening Day less than a week away, let's dip into the Inbox for your questions about the 2017 Brewers.I employed some help this time from Brewers radio broadcaster Lane Grindle, an expert on Milwaukee's Minor League system. He seemed perfect to help answer this one:
PHOENIX -- With Opening Day less than a week away, let's dip into the Inbox for your questions about the 2017 Brewers.
I employed some help this time from Brewers radio broadcaster Lane Grindle, an expert on Milwaukee's Minor League system. He seemed perfect to help answer this one:
"I think it's an interesting situation for the Brewers, quite frankly, because of the depth they have in the system," Grindle said. "They want to be aggressive with some guys. They were a year ago; we saw Jacob Nottingham at the age of 21 catching in Double-A. That's fairly rare. We saw Corey Ray, right out of the gate, go to [Class A Advanced]. Brett Phillips this year is going to be in Triple-A, and a lot of people thought he might need to repeat a year -- or at least start the year -- in Double-A Biloxi.
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"So I think they will be aggressive when it calls for it. It's going to be very individual. When they feel like the player can handle it, they're going to get aggressive."
Lane mentioned Lucas Erceg as a player who might be "pushed" this season. I agree -- an advanced college hitter who plays a position (third base) that's relatively thin in the Brewers' system, Erceg is exactly the type of player an organization might challenge.
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I'll add two pitchers: Taylor Williams and Nathan Kirby. Yes, I know they are both coming back from Tommy John surgery and will be handled carefully this season in terms of workload. But I could see the Brewers pushing them in terms of competition level. Williams, for example, looks poised to open the year in Double-A.
That is a really good question. On one hand, Junior Guerra is 32 and his trade value might not ever be higher, coming off his terrific 2016 season. On the other hand, he has five more years of club control, and since he was not piling up 200 innings a season in Spain and Italy and all of his other stops around the world, there should be some mileage left on that right arm.
It's a tough call for David Stearns. Because of his unique background and age, I'm betting for now that Guerra stays.
Manager Craig Counsell referred to Corey Knebel's spring performance as "dominant," and before the team acquired Neftali Feliz, Knebel seemed the most likely candidate to be the closer. So yes, I think there is a good chance he gets some save opportunities this season. Feliz is on a one-year deal, and if he pitches like he did last season for Pittsburgh -- and relievers continue to fetch huge hauls in trades -- he just screams Trade Deadline flip.
By letting him continue to knock, I imagine. Lewis Brinson -- the Brewers' No. 1 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com -- is over 2,000 plate appearances in the Minor Leagues, so there is not much more work to do there, but he has only played 31 games above the Double-A level. It certainly would not hamper his development if he plays most of this season at Triple-A Colorado Springs and comes up to the Brewers for September. If there is a full-time need before then, I suspect Brinson gets the first call.
Speaking of that, I was particularly impressed with how Brinson handled the end of his big league camp. If you missed it, here's what he had to say.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.