The Milwaukee Brewers are stuck in a dilemma that most teams would wish for. With the abundance of talented outfielders on the current roster, and in the minors as well, it raises the question, where do you find room for all of these players?
Despite past attempts to move former National League MVP, Ryan Braun, the Brewers appear to be content with sticking by him throughout their rebuild. After all, Braun does provide a young Brewers team with a veteran presence, and a solid bat in the middle of the lineup. Although he’s missed most of the season due to injury, he’s still hitting for an OPS of .869, with 12 home runs at age 33. Braun appears to be a lock in left field for Milwaukee until he reaches the tail of his contract in 2021.
Domingo Santana is continuing to blossom into an offensive threat for the Brewers since being acquired from the Houston Astros in 2015. At age 25, Santana’s numbers have improved every season. This year alone, he’s setting career highs in doubles (20), home runs (18), RBI (58), and OPS (.842). His slash line is also at an all time high at .275/.369/.473. As long as Santana continues to produce at the plate, expect to see him and Braun anchoring the corner outfield positions for years to come.
This is where it gets tricky for the Brewers.
Keon Broxton’s short career has been filled with plenty of ups and downs. The center fielder brings value to the team with his combination of speed, power, and defense. After all, he has the fourth most home runs by any Brewer with 15 long balls this season. He’s also had plenty of moments this season where he’s showed off the leather.
When he’s hot, he’s a legit weapon, but when he’s struggling it’s hard to watch. As of Tuesday, Broxton is only one strikeout behind Wil Myers for the most strikeouts in the National League. Thankfully, he’s been on another hot streak since being recalled from AAA at the beginning of the month. He’s hitting .273 this month.
Time will tell whether or not this is another one of his short hot streaks. Either way, Broxton’s inconsistencies clouds his future in the Brewers outfield. It’s nice to have someone as skilled as he is on defense, but the Brewers need more offensive production than what Broxton’s provided.
Two of the Brewers most highly touted prospects, Lewis Brinson and Brett Phillips have gotten their first taste of the major leagues this season already. However, with Braun and Santana playing as well as they have been, it’s been difficult to find spots for Brinson and Phillips to get at-bats every day and grow at the major league level. This explains why their first couple of promotions have been so short.
It’s only a matter of time before they’re both called up for good. Both of the 23-year old outfielders have been flourishing all year in AAA. Brinson has put up a slash line of .333/.403/.544, with an OPS of .947. Phillips has also put up a slash line of .310/.381/.589, with an OPS of .970. Both can also hit for power as well. They’re also better than your average outfielders when it comes to their defensive skills.
They’ve both learned from their stints in the majors, before being sent back down. Finding a permanent spot for one of these prospects wouldn’t be very difficult, but the fact that both of them have been so good in the minors puts the Brewers in a fortunate dilemma. Expect to see Brinson and Phillips back on the Brewers once rosters expand in September.
Ryan Braun won’t be able to play every day due to his past history of injuries. This means that there may be more opportunities for Brinson and Phillips to get playing time than fans may expect. The remainder of this season will also give the Brewers a healthy look at Broxton’s offensive capabilities. His performance will likely determine his future role on the team.
Whatever the result of the 2017 season is for the Brewers, one thing’s for certain, the final month of the season should give the team a good look at the future of their outfield for 2018, and years to come.