It's been quite some time since the Milwaukee Brewers have had multiple promising young position players developed from draft to the majors on the horizon. Garrett Mitchell, Joey Wiemer, Sal Frelick and Brice Turang are four promising youngsters that we haven't seen the likes of since the late 2000's when Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder and Corey Hart were breaking into the big leagues.
Back in 2007, the Brewers top prospect was Ryan Braun. Braun, the #5 overall pick in the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft, ascended to the big leagues in quick order.
2005: Rookie Ball, 10 games
- A Ball, 37 games
2006: High A Ball, 59 games
- AA Ball, 59 games
- (AZFL- 25 games)
2007: AAA Ball- 34 games
Not counting the Arizona Fall League, Braun progressed through five levels of minor league baseball in just 199 games, with a Minor League slash line of .312/.375/.573/.948. He then went on to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2007 in his Age 23 season.
Milwaukee has a prospect right now that is following a similar ascension through the minor league system. That prospect is Sal Frelick. Frelick, the #15 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Amateur Draft, has moved through the Brewers system even quicker than Braun:
2021: Rookie Ball, 4 games
- A Ball, 16 games
- High A Ball, 15 games
2022: High A Ball, 21 games
- AA Ball, 52 games
- AAA Ball, 46 games
Frelick has 154 career minor league games, including the 46 at AAA Nashville last season (which is 12 more AAA games than Braun had). His Minor League slash line: .331/.406/.477/.882. He seems as certain as certain can be to make his major league debut and play a fairly big role in his age 23 season.
The similarities aren't perfect, admittedly. Braun thrived on power while Frelick is more of an average/OBP type player. That doesn't change the fact that their origination (advanced college player), progression (just over two minor league seasons), and success (lots!) all are eerily similar. We can only hope that Frelick enjoys as much success as Braun had during his career with Milwaukee, with none of the drama. The opportunities are there for the young outfielder in 2023. Mitchell, Tyrone Taylor and Jesse Winker figure to view for playing time with Frelick. It wouldn’t be a stretch to expect Frelick to earn 400 or so at-bats as a baseline, even though the possibility he starts in AAA to start the season does exist. A lot of fans clamored for his callup last September, and that move would have been easily justified by the front office. His “grinder” style of play should endear him to both fans and manager Craig Counsell. Keeping Frelick down too long in 2023 will be harder to justify for a franchise that claims they want “more bites of the apple”. Sal Frelick is too good of a player to keep off the big league team for much longer, just like Ryan Braun was in 2007.