In part three of our series examining the Brewers organizational depth by position, we take a look at shortstop, where the Brewers will look for Orlando Arcia to hold down the position for years to come at the big league level after he was promoted to Milwaukee last August.
In 55 games with the Brewers, Arcia hit just .219/.273/.358 but showed a little bit of pop (10 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs) and speed (8-for-8 in stolen base attempts) to go along with his stellar defense.
Milwaukee slid Jonathan Villar, who started the season at shortstop, over to third base after Arcia’s promotion and have him slated to play second base in 2016, but his presence, combined with other versatile infielders such as Yadiel Rivera and Hernan Perez, provides Milwaukee with good depth up the middle behind Arcia.
Down on the farm, the Brewers have a handful of international players worth monitoring as future shortstop prospects in Maurico Dubon, Gilbert Lara, Luis Aviles and Jean Carlos Carmona.
Dubon, 22, was acquired from Boston in the offseason trade of Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox. He was born in Honduras before coming to the states as a high schooler and has a career .306 average through five minor league seasons while continuing to make solid contact as the competition has gotten tougher.
Lara, 19, signed with the Brewers out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 as the highest profile International signing in club history. While he hasn’t produced the offensive numbers that the Brewers had hoped for, he’s still very young with the potential to develop into a top prospect, though there is a belief that he may outgrow the shortstop position.
Aviles, 21, came to the U.S. from Cuba at the age of 12 and put together his best season to date in 2016, racking up 22 doubles, six triples and nine home runs at Class-A Wisconsin. While playing all over the infield and even seeing some time in the outfield, Aviles’ best position is shortstop, where his fantastic range is on full display.
Carmona, 17, was signed by the Brewers last July 2nd out of the Dominican Republic and should make his pro debut with one of Milwaukee’s rookie league affiliates in 2017.
The Brewers also have the likes of Isan Diaz (Puerto Rico), Wendell Rijo (Dominican Republic) and Javier Betancourt (Venezuela) in the mix, though that trio seem better suited for second base in the long-run.
The Brewers used their sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft on Puerto Rican shortstop Angel Ortega, a glove-first shortstop who’s defense is big league ready but has questions surrounding his offensive game.
Ortega, who turned 23 in September, advanced through the Brewers system a level at a time before returning to Brevard County for a second year in 2016. In 67 games there, he hit .275 and earned a spot on the Florida State League All-Star team before receiving a promotion to Double-A Biloxi, where he finished out the year.
With good range, soft hands and a quick release, Ortega can make all of the plays at short, but his bat still needs development to make him a serviceable big league option.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Milwaukee has quite a few shortstop options at the lower levels of their system as well, including 2016 draftees Trever Morrison and Nick Roscetti and Latin American youngsters Ignacio Otano and Antonio Pinero.
Morrison, 21, was drafted by the Brewers out of Oregon State in the 12th round and appeared in 37 games for Helena last season. He hit .265 and scored 17 runs while seeing time at second base, shortstop and third base.
Roscetti, 23, was a 26th round pick by Milwaukee out of the University of Iowa. The former Hawkeye saw action in just 13 games for the Brewers AZL affiliate in Maryvale after signing, batting .277 and plating nine runs.
Otano, who just turned 20 in January, was named to the Dominican Summer League’s All-Star team in 2015, then made his way stateside in 2016 where he suited up for the Brewers AZL affiliate, appearing in 26 games.
Pinero, 17, was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox out of Venezuela, but after MLB voided that deal, he inked a contract with the Brewers. He appeared in 50 games between the Red Sox and Brewers DSL affiliates last season, hitting a combined .218.