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  • Brewer Fanatic 2022 Short-Season Hitter of the Year: Jace Avina


    Seth Stohs

    As the regular season winds down, it is time to start handing out awards. Today, we begin a series of minor-league awards by handing out our choice for Brewer Fanatic Short Season Minor League Hitter of the Year. 

    Image courtesy of Neal Hock (graphics by Thieres Rabelo)

    Brewers Video

    When Brewer Fanatic’s minor-league writers were asked to vote for the two short-season minor league awards, it was insisted that only statistics produced in the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Complex League should be considered. 

    Outfielder Jace Avina put up such incredible numbers in the 36 games he played for the Brewers “Blue” squad in Arizona, that it earned him the Brewer Fanatic Short-Season Minor League Hitter of the Year award. 

    Avina hit .294/.436/.630 (1.067) with eight doubles, a triple, and 10 home runs in 149 plate appearances. Avina hit for average, and he got on base. The crazy thing is that he had 15 walks and he was also hit by 15 pitches. He also provided some big-time thump, something you don’t always see in these lower levels. Not all was perfect. He struck out 51 times (34.2%). He was named the Brewers Player of the Month for July and called up to Low-A Carolina just a few days later. 

    Now these numbers did not go into our voter’s criteria, but Avina ended the season by hitting .245/.336/.471 (.807) in 28 games. He had four doubles, two triples and five home runs. 

    Overall a very impressive season for a youngster who turned 19 years old just weeks before the short-season leagues started their season. 

    Avina was the 14th round pick of the Brewers in 2021 out of Spanish Springs High School in Nevada. He had a full-ride scholarship to the University of Nevada, but when the Brewers offered him $255,900 plus college tuition (to be used later), he signed. 

    In high school, Avina played in the middle of the field. He played shortstop, second base and center field (no, not all at the same time). The Brewers drafted him as an outfielder. In his pro debut this year, he played all three outfield spots, but spent the vast majority of his innings in center field. 

    Avina has been blessed with good genetics too. His father, Armando, was drafted by the Astros in 1991. He didn’t sign but instead went to the University of Nevada-Reno to be a punter and kicker. In 1996, he signed a two-year contract with the Buffalo Bills. 

    At 6-2, 180 pounds, Avina is quite athletic. He can run. He’s got power. He can play defense. He has a strong arm. He works hard. He wants to get on base. Now, he just needs to keep working on making more contact because when he does, good things tend to happen. 

    Hitter of the Year: Jace Avina, OF 
    Rookie League Stats (36 G): .294/.436/.630 (1.067), 8-2B, 1-3B, 10-HR, 29 RBI 

    Runner-Up: Yeison Perez, 1B/OF
    Rookie League Stats (42 G): .331/.409/.654 (1.063), 15 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 40 RBI


    Not every player develops in the same timeline. Player development is certainly not linear. Perez signed with the Brewers in January 2021 and debuted with the DSL Brewers that summer. He hit .244/.293/.333 (.626) with nine doubles, one triple, and one home run. Now look back up at his 2022 numbers. Huge improvements across the board. He got bigger, got stronger, and really improved. The 18-year-old has primarily played first base. 

    Second Runner-Up: Jadher Areinamo, IF
    DSL Stats (34 G): .323/.416/.472 (.889), 10 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 21 RBI


    Like Avina, Areinamo played most of his season in Arizona. He spent about a week in High-A Wisconsin before joining his ACL team. Then at the end of July, he was promoted to Low-A Carolina to finish the season. The smooth-fielding 18-year-old showed some doubles-pop at the Complex, but he also walked as much as he struck out. He spent a lot of time at both middle infield spots and at third base. While his tools aren’t exciting, his instincts, control of the strike zone and intelligence stand out. The Venezuelan signed in January of 2021 for $150K. 

    Which players will most likely impact the Brewers down the road? Who would you vote for as the Brewers short-season hitter of the year? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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    Well...who am I to argue with the voters.

    I WILL say of the clips you have up here, Jace Avina has a beautiful swing that doesn't look like it needs any work to it. It's just quiet and smooth. 

    It actually looks a lot like Yelich's swing but from the right side. Just a slight difference with their where they end up, but Avina has a nice, quiet looking swing, quick to the ball. 

    Areinamo put up great numbers, but that swing looks loud.


    I usually don't really care much about just some highlights, but...damn, that Avina does have a really smooth looking swing that you can just picture translating at every level. 

     

     

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    Agree, it's a VERY pretty swing. Here's what might be the most impressive thing: He advances to full-season A-ball, and while the overall numbers took a bit of a dip which is no catastrophe considering his age, he still flashed the power.

    That seems to be a common theme this season in the Brewer organization. Guys are advanced, sometimes very aggressively, but do pretty well at the next level. Good to see.

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    Avina is definitely one I will keep an eye on next season.  He needs to cut the K rate, but his raw power is impressive.  I really liked Areinamo as well, he has shown some good plate discipline and contact skills plus plays pretty good D.

    Luis Castillo was another prospect I liked and would consider in this group, I think he was ultimately promoted to A ball as well. He was pretty similar to Areinamo with a bit more power as I recall.

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    13 minutes ago, RedStickBrew said:

    Avina is definitely one I will keep an eye on next season.  He needs to cut the K rate, but his raw power is impressive.  I really liked Areinamo as well, he has shown some good plate discipline and contact skills plus plays pretty good D.

    Luis Castillo was another prospect I liked and would consider in this group, I think he was ultimately promoted to A ball as well. He was pretty similar to Areinamo with a bit more power as I recall.

    Castillo really started coming on the last week or so of the season which was really nice to see - he was docked in the voting for Short Season because he was one of the earliest call-ups (ie smaller sample size). I would also add, Branlyn Jaraba and Eduarqui Fernandez showed enough sizzle to merit a watchful eye in 2023. Both young men proved their worth in various spurts of excellence in Low-A.

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    1 hour ago, Joseph Zarr said:

    Castillo really started coming on the last week or so of the season which was really nice to see - he was docked in the voting for Short Season because he was one of the earliest call-ups (ie smaller sample size). I would also add, Branlyn Jaraba and Eduarqui Fernandez showed enough sizzle to merit a watchful eye in 2023. Both young men proved their worth in various spurts of excellence in Low-A.

    Good info, thanks. I did notice Jaraba has some power too. Will be fun to watch this young group develop 

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    There are a lot of worthy honorable mentions, but if you read hitter as position player, Gregory Barrios probably should be in the group right after those three. He didn’t hit for much power but got on base at a .360 clip and had one of the best fielding percentages of any middle infielder in the system as an 18-year-old.

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    15 hours ago, CheeseheadInQC said:

    There are a lot of worthy honorable mentions, but if you read hitter as position player, Gregory Barrios probably should be in the group right after those three. He didn’t hit for much power but got on base at a .360 clip and had one of the best fielding percentages of any middle infielder in the system as an 18-year-old.

    I think we both know how we feel about Barrios and Guillarte. They may not pop off as clear ‘Hitter of the Year’ winners but we both know they are extremely legitimate and intriguing middle infield prospects to watch in 2023 and beyond. Heck, they are both still just 18 and certainly showed enough contact, OBP, and base running qualities (not to mention defensive prowess) to raise eyebrows. They have clear potential to leap frog several prospects higher in the system if things come together. Lots to like there indeed.

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