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  • The Offseason State Of The Brewers Farm – First Base

    Harold Hutchison

    The Brewers had some trouble at first base in 2023, due especially to Rowdy Tellez’s injury. While 2024 could see some short-term fixes, can the farm bring them some new players down the road?

    Image courtesy of Mike Krebs

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    After posting solid numbers since his 2021 acquisition, Rowdy Tellez fell off a cliff offensively while trying to play through a forearm injury. It got worse when Luke Voit and Jon Singleton failed to produce at the MLB level for the Crew, before they ultimately brought in Mark Canha and Carlos Santana as trade acquisitions. While Tellez, Christian Yelich, and Canha give the Brewers options for 2024, what about the future? Let’s look at the farm, and see who could emerge.

    The players listed here are the top prospects who primarily played first base. So, while Tyler Black and Luke Adams are among some exciting prospects who did see action at first, they won’t be discussed here. Similarly, we won’t discuss Keston Hiura, who is likely to depart via minor-league free agency.

    Wes Clarke (AA Biloxi)
    .241/.392.,498 with 24 doubles, 26 home runs, 80 RBI, 89 walks and 147 strikeouts in 398 at-bats

    We covered Clarke while discussing catchers, but he spent a lot more time at designated hitter and first base than behind the plate in 2023. It does let us delve more into just how good he is, under the radar. While Jackson Chourio and Tyler Black may have gotten a lot of the limelight, it was Clarke who led the Shuckers in doubles (24), home runs (26), and walks (89), while finishing in the top five in OPS (2nd with .889), slugging percentage (2nd with .497), on-base percentage (4th with .392), and RBI (2nd with 80). The Crew’s search for a lefty-killer at the plate may very well come to a close with Clarke.

    Zavier Warren (AA Biloxi)
    .236/.319/.406 with 15 doubles, 15 home runs, 63 RBI, 45 walks and 86 strikeouts in 377 at-bats

    Warren moved to first base with Black’s shift to third base. While he struggled at the plate early in the season (as did many other Southern League hitters), he rebounded to post solid numbers overall. Warren’s a switch-hitter who has posted solid numbers since being a third-round pick in the abbreviated 2020 amateur draft. In addition to first base, he’s seen significant time at third base, but also has worked behind the plate, and at the middle infield positions in college and his pro career.

    Ernesto Martinez (A+ Wisconsin/AA Biloxi)
    .261/.345/.416 with 16 doubles, 12 home runs, 44 RBI, 40 walks and 79 strikeouts in 349 at-bats

    Martinez has quietly developed into a solid first-base prospect who recovered from a lost 2022 due to injuries. At 6’5” and 250 pounds, he has that Eric Thames-esque bulk to match the power numbers and OBP skills Thames displayed from 2017-2019. However, Martinez adds speed (54 steals over the last three seasons), and he also spent time in center field in 2021 and didn’t embarrass himself, either. He is a minor-league free agent after this season, but should be a high priority for re-signing by the Brewers.

    Jesus Chirinos (A+ Wisconsin/A Carolina)
    .265/.406/.433 with 17 doubles, nine home runs, 39 RBI, 64 walks and 102 strikeouts in 275 at-bats

    Chirinos flashed a lot of hopeful signs in 2022. In 2023, he struggled so much in Wisconsin that he was sent back to Zebulon, where he rebounded with an .899 OPS. A one-time catcher, Chirinos has settled into first base. Even when slumping, he posts a high walk rate, and his bat has the potential to be dangerous. While he is just 21, he becomes a minor-league free agent after 2024, so he faces a make-or-break year.

    Tayden Hall (A Carolina/R ACL Brewers)
    .274/.419/.320 with nine doubles, 25 RBI, 49 walks and 45 strikeouts in 192 at-bats

    Hall brings in some superb OBP skills and a decent hit-for-contact left-handed bat. He spent a lot of time on the injured list, though. In addition to first base, Hall also played catcher and left field. His biggest issues appear to be his health and the lack of power.

    What do you think about these prospects at first base? Are there some who you’d like see us put a little more focus on? Can anyone listed here provide needed depth at first base for the big-league club next season?

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