To be fair, the ACL Champion Brewers featured a lot of talent. Some of them were rapidly moved up the ladder to different affiliates (Brock Wilken and Mike Boeve come to mind), others were players rehabilitating from injuries (Sal Frelick, Keston Hiura, and Eric Lauer are good examples), so we will focus on players who were still on the ACL Crew’s roster for the postseason run that culminated in them celebrating a championship. Some of these players on the roster made huge contributions to the division championship team, and have the potential to be fast risers in the Brewers system. Let’s take a look.
Baez flashed real hit-for-contact ability in Maryvale, posting a .370 batting average. He wasn’t just a slap-hitter – 24 of his 71 hits went for extra bases (16 doubles, four triples, four homers). He also stole 17 bases in 19 attempts. In 192 at-bats, he struck out only 23 times. He primarily played shortstop, but also saw significant action at third base. If he has weaknesses, it’s in OBP skills (eight walks all season) and defense (17 errors combined – 12 at short, 5 at third). But a .952 OPS will be good performance from any position on the diamond, and make it easy to overlook errors. He was promoted to Carolina after the completion of the ACL season.
If there is competition for Baez, it may well come from Cooper Pratt, a sixth-round pick who the Brewers lured away from Ole Miss. That over-slot deal, though, may be a bargain. In a small sample size (45 at-bats), Pratt posted a .356 batting average and drew five walks. The Crew will hope for Pratt to develop some more power, but a solid hit-for-average bat and good defense could make for an interesting choice at shortstop between him, Baez, Freddy Zamora, Eric Brown Jr. , Robert Moore, and Ethan Murray - with Brice Turang and Andruw Monasterio already in the majors.
Walling primarily played right field for the ACL Crew. His 34 games were the most anyone on the roster played at a single position. In 112 at-bats, Walling posted 20 walks and 47 strikeouts, and eight of his 24 hits went for extra bases. Walling may not be as exciting as Baez and Pratt, but he could be a solid three-true-outcome bat.
Norman’s bat was arguably second only to Baez’s for the Maryvale squad. Of all players on the active roster, he is second in home runs, and walked 19 times in 113 at-bats. He hit over .300, and the strikeouts were kept reasonably low. If there is a negative, it’s defense. He only caught four out of 42 baserunners trying to steal, and committed two errors and nine passed balls in 21 games. Norman’s bat can play, but the real key is finding him a defensive home, probably left field or designated hitter.
Ordonez split duties behind the plate with Norman, and provided excellent defense (two passed balls and three errors). His offense was credible too, drawing 18 walks in 79 at-bats. He struck out 31 times, but delivered big on the power side with nine of his 20 hits going for extra bases. The left-handed power bat could be very promising, provided he can cut down on his strikeouts.
At the age of 17, Bitonti has flashed a big-time power bat in a very small sample size (39 at-bats). He split time at third base, shortstop, and designated hitter. Of his seven hits, four went for extra bases, and he added nine walks to 15 strikeouts. There are worse careers to have than that of Russell Branyan.
Mogollon was arguably the ace of the Maryvale staff. He finished second in innings pitched, posted a 3.78 ERA, while going 2-3, splitting time between the bullpen and the rotation, following up on a solid 2022 in the DSL. Mogollon kept the ball in the park, allowing only one home run out of the 39 the team allowed.
The Brewers have a right to feel excited about some of the talent on the ACL Crew’s roster, particularly their infielders and catchers. While Brewers fans can be excited about Jackson Chourio, Jeferson Quero, and Tyler Black, the Maryvale squad has some players who could be just as exciting, if not more so.
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