Marching on with our series examining the position-by-position depth in the Brewers organization, today we take a look at third base, where the Brewers hope an offseason acquisition can step up and take the reigns at a position that has been a bit of a revolving door.
Milwaukee made a move to shore up theposition over the winter, when they acquired 26-year-old Travis Shaw from the Boston Red Sox as part of the Tyler Tornburg trade. In 210 games with the Red Sox over the past two seasons, the left-handed hitting slugger has collected 44 doubles and 29 home runs while driving in 107 and looks to be the favorite to start at the hot corner on opening day.
Beyond Shaw, the Brewers have several other options including a pair of versatile utility players in Hernan Perez and Yadiel Rivera. Both have experience at third and could slot in there in the event that Shaw struggles and Milwaukee could also call upon Jonathan Villar, who saw time at third base last season, but is making the move to second base in 2017.
Down on the farm, the Brewers have a trio of good young bats who have gotten some time at third base in Lucas Erceg, Jake Gatewood and Chad McClanahan.
Erceg, 21, is the best defender of the bunch and was impressive at the plate in his pro debut last season after being selected by the Brewers in the second round out of Menlo College. In 68 total games between Helena and Wisconsin, Erceg hit .327/.376/.518 with nine home runs and 51 runs batted in.
Gatewood, 21, was a first round pick of the Brewers in 2014 and saw time at both first and third base last season after being drafted out of high school as a shortstop. He smacked a career high 14 home runs at Single-A Wisconsin in 2016 en route to be named to the Midwest League All-Star team, but questions remain if he will make enough contact as he advanced through the system.
McClanahan, 19, was an 11th round pick by Milwaukee last season and got his feet wet with 35 games in the rookie Arizona League. There are questions about his defense at third and his long-term home may be at first base, but he packs some thunder in his bat and still has plenty of room for development.
The Brewers used their 17th round pick in last year’s draft to select 22-year-old Weston Wilson out of Clemson University and he opened some eyes in his professional debut. In 62 Pioneer League games with Helena, the 6’3″ Wilson hit .318, with over one-third of his hits going for extra-bases as he tallied 16 doubles, seven triples and four home runs.
OTHERS TO WATCH
The third base position in the Brewers organization lacks in depth, but there are several other youngsters worth following, including Jose Cuas, Julio Mendez and George Iskenderian.
Cuas, 22, was an 11th round pick in 2015 out of Maryland and after 68 games in Helena in 2015, he skipped over Low-A Wisconsin and spent the 2016 season with High-A Brevard County. He scuffled at the plate, hitting just .170 over 120 games but the results aren’t unsurprising for someone skipping a level and playing in a pitcher’s league.
Iskenderian, 23, followed a similar route to Cuas, making the jump from Helena to Brevard County. A fifth round pick out of the University of Miami in 2015, Iskenderian had better results at the plate, hitting .260 with five home runs, splitting his time between second and third base.
Mendez, 20, was signed by the Brewers out of Venezuela in 2013 and spent his first two seasons with Milwaukee’s affiliate in the Dominican Summer League before coming stateside late in the 2015 season. He saw action in 32 games with Maryvale last season, hitting .231.