CACTUS CHATTER: MARCH 6TH, 2017

All Brewers position players are due to report to Maryvale by Friday, but the vast majority are already there and have been working for a while now. With a lengthier Cactus League season due to the World Baseball Classic, many of Milwaukee’s top prospects have been getting extra playing time with the Brewers this spring and some have made quite the impression.

Third baseman Lucas Erceg, the Brewers second round pick in 2016, has appeared in four games for Milwaukee already this spring and has opened plenty of eyes with his sweet left-handed swing. Last Wednesday he singled through a drawn-in infield to give the Brewers a 3-2 walk-off win over Cincinnati and on Monday he belted a pair of long home runs, including a grand slam, in Milwaukee’s 14-5 thumping of the Cleveland Indians.

Another player who got off to a quick start with the bat is outfielder Keon Broxton, who showed signs of breaking out late last season before suffering a wrist injury in a game at Wrigley Field. Through his first seven spring training games, Broxton is batting an even .400 with a double, a triple and two home runs. Working out of the leadoff spot, Broxton has also stolen a pair of bases and scored six runs while increasing his odds of getting the starting nod in center field on opening day.

There have been several notable performances on the pitching side as well, with Tyler Cravy and Brent Suter each tossing four scoreless frames of relief. Another reliever who has been a pleasant surprise thus far is 27-year-old lefty Nick Ramirez. After spending his first six seasons in the Brewers system playing first base, Ramirez returned to the mound this spring and promptly struck out the side in his first outing against UWM. He’s made two more relief appearances for the Brewers since then and has yet to allow a base hit, recording three more strikeouts in an inning and one-third of work.

One player who has not seen any action yet is 2016 first round pick Corey Ray, who is continuing to recover from offseason knee surgery. Kyle Lobner had a chance to interview Ray for SheperdExpress.com and though Ray hasn’t been able to take the field for the Brewers just yet, he has been on hand in the dugout with the big club and is inching closer and closer to a return to the diamond.

While most of the action has been on the MLB side of things thus far, the back fields at Maryvale Baseball Park have started to fill up and some of Milwaukee’s minor leaguers took on the LG Twins of the Korean Baseball Organization in a Monday afternoon contest. Outfielder Troy Stokes stole the show for Milwaukee, going 3-for-3 with a home run and a pair of doubles while Demi Orimoloye, Joantgel Segovia and Gabriel Noriega each added a home run as well as the Brewers rolled to a 9-4 victory. Nathan Kirby got the starting nod for Milwaukee and tossed a scoreless first inning, mowing down the Twins in order as he continues to make his way back from 2015 Tommy John surgery. Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was in attendance and tweeted out plenty of highlights from the game, so be sure to check out his timeline for additional news and notes.