At 26, Brock Kjeldgaard (pronounced KEEL-gard) may not seem to have a lot going for him this spring with the Milwaukee Brewers. He has a contract purchased from AA to the big club, and a name like a Viking warlord. He’s a 6’5”, 215 pound hulk of a man who splits his playing time between the outfield and first base. He has decent power for a Minor League player, and he possesses skills that could be valuable as a utility player in the Majors. In effect, he has what every minor league player hopes for: an opportunity.
This year may prove to be the biggest one he’ll ever get.
Players like Kjeldgaard in Spring Training are downright fun to watch. He is one of a small batch of fun experiments that the coaches get to tinker with while the team gears up for another season. He may not get to stay in Milwaukee all season, or he may end up being a big surprise. With Corey Hart now out for nearly a month (or more) and first base in general disarray, a man like Kjeldgaard suddenly turns from a fun experiment to a possible solution. It’s not often for an invitee, but the Ontario native now finds himself in the advantageous position of feeling needed, if only for a few weeks.
Brock has fanned in all three plate appearances so far in Spring Training – part of a larger plate discipline problem that has followed him since leaving the Timber Rattlers in . But there are plenty of things to be excited about if you’re pulling for Brock to be a Brewer. He has considerable power when he connects, runs bases like a young Corey Hart, and can play anywhere in the outfield. He even pitched his first two seasons, though admittedly not well. His batting average improved when he moved up from Brevard County to AA Hunstville last year.
Despite good Minor League numbers and his ability to fill position holes, there are some things going against him thus far in the Cactus League. The foremost being that he will have limited opportunities. Gamel, Ishikawa, and Green are all competing for time at first. There are a bevy of outfielders that all need time – especially Aoki who needs to adapt to the American game. That means that Kjeldgaard will need to be able to perform cold at times – one at-bat a game may become standard practice for him throughout Spring Training.
Kjeldgaard will have to drill hard and play even harder to get consideration this year, probably more so considering he’s a 26 year-old ballplayer who has been stuck no higher than AA since he was 19. There are no questions about his durability, his athleticism, or his work ethic – he simply needs a refinement of his skills. Doing that in AA ball can be hard enough for most people, to do it in Arizona during Spring Training is quite another altogether. But with concerns at first base (including players like Green and Gamel that are splitting between first and third) and the routine of Spring Training injuries, Brock may find himself with more opportunities than most. We don’t know yet if he will take advantage of them, but it sure will be a lot of fun to watch.