Brewers prospect Joey Wiemer has a chance to make the opening day roster, Craig Counsell says
PHOENIX – Joey Wiemer has seen the field this spring more than almost any player on the MIlwaukee Brewers. And that’s not for nothing.
“He’s playing because he has a chance to be here,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s why he’s playing. Obviously, he’s close. We have uncertainty in the outfield right now and that’s created some opportunities for guys.”
The opening day roster is indeed a possibility for Wiemer, who is hitting .231/.300/.762 with two homers while starting 11 games across all three outfield positions. Wiemer’s 64 innings in the field entering Saturday’s game against the Padres were the most on the Brewers.
“He’s here. He’s here and he’s playing,” Counsell said. “If you’re in the lineups at this point as regularly as he is, you can read into that he’s a candidate, absolutely.”
Teams will say anyone still in the big-league clubhouse at this point of camp has a chance. But considering the injury to Tyrone Taylor and Garrett Mitchell’s current absence, is it more true now than it was at the beginning of spring that Wiemer has a chance to crack the roster?
“Yes,” Counsell responded.
Joey Wiemer's path to the opening day roster
It still might be an outside shot for Wiemer to make the team, so what’s the path for him?
The Brewers are already down one outfielder from their expected opening day roster as Tyrone Taylor recovers from a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow. That spot seems likely to go to Tyler Naquin for now, though.
A setback to Mitchell, who is on the mend from a hamstring tweak March 9 but says he expects to be back in the lineup early next week as the team handles his injury with caution, is one possibility for Wiemer to make the team. Another top prospect, Sal Frelick, may be more of an apples-to-apples tradeoff for Mitchell, however, as a left-handed hitter whose primary position is center field.
Milwaukee is need of another right-handed outfield with Taylor on the mend, although it appears that question may be answered by Owen Miller, whose experiment in the outfield has gone positively and the team would be comfortable playing him there in the regular season.
Though he seems to be the favorite to start in right field on opening day, Naquin has not been declared to be a lock for the team, either. Naquin, batting .150 with a .500 OPS, is in camp as a non-roster invitee and would have to be added to the 40-man roster if the Brewers want to keep him ahead of his opt-out next weekend.
The Brewers may very well prefer Wiemer to Naquin, but would the margin be great enough to not only lose Naquin but start Wiemer’s service time clock on opening day?
William Contreras’ defense drawing positive reviews
The defense of William Contreras, who made his ninth start of spring at catcher on Saturday, was a topic of conversation with Counsell on Saturday.
Contreras’ bat earned him an all-star nod last season but the book on him when he was traded to the Brewers in the off-season was that his defense needed to catch up to his offense. His work with fellow catcher Victor Caratini and associate pitching, catching and strategy coach Walker McKinven has focused on shifting that reputation.
“He’s been good,” Counsell said. “He’s throwing well. He’s caught well. Everybody’s very happy with how William has played defensively.”
As spring has gone on, Contreras has transitioned from primarily absorbing information to a more vocal approach to his defense.
“I think we’re on a perfect path and he’s been a great student,” Counsell said. “I think he’s done it the right way, too. He,kind of took everything in for a couple weeks and now he’s starting to open up more and take charge a little more. That’s what I would’ve recommended that he did. I think he did it really well.”
Padres 11, Brewers 6
Bryse Wilson cruised through the first eight hitters of a fully-stocked Padres lineup without allowing a base runner before the tables turned.
San Diego scored in five of its last six innings and got home runs from Manny Machado, Jake Cronenworth and Luis Campusano to rout Milwaukee after falling behind, 5-0.
Wilson finished allowing five runs over four innings, but the Brewers expect him to open the year as a reliever, and his repertoire played up the first time through the order.
Jake Cousins allowed two runs in one inning as his spring struggles continued and Joel Payamps gave up three runs while recording only two outs.
Jesse Winker had a three-hit day for his best showing in a spring game yet.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Joey Wiemer has a chance to make Milwaukee Brewers' opening day roster