6 Former Brewers’ to Watch in 2015

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Spring training is a time for story-lines. Not only are there plenty of things to watch with the Milwaukee Brewers, but many former Brewers are players to keep an eye one. Here is a look at five former Brewers to watch in 2015.

1. Zack Greinke–Los Angeles Dodgers

Since coming into the league, Zack Greinke has been a star who has seemingly gotten better each season. After finishing his year and a half with the Brewers going 25-9 with a 3.67 ERA, he has been nearly untouchable with the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 32-12 with a 2.68 ERA.

This season he enters a huge year. Though he is in the midst of a massive $147 million dollar contract, he has an opt-out clause after this season. With the type of money that pitchers have gotten this winter, another big year may put him in position to cash in even more.

2. Corey Hart–Pittsburgh Pirates

In 2012 Corey Hart looked primed to become the player who would replace Prince Fielder at first base. He batted .270 with 30 home runs and looked like a natural at first (the position he played when he was first drafted by the club). But instead of taking over the position, Hart took over a spot on the disabled list. With a devastating knee injury he missed all of the 2013 season as the Brewers plugged in player after player to try to fill that role.

Last season, Hart again battled injuries as he signed with the Seattle Mariners. These injuries caused him to bat just .203 with six home runs and a .590 OPS. This season as a Pittsburgh Pirate he will again have a chance to prove he is healthy. The team currently is counting on Pedro Alvarez to take over at first, but with a big spring Hart could have a chance to see regular at-bats in Pittsburgh, too.

3. Rickie Weeks–Seattle Mariners

Aug 25, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks (23) throws to first during the third inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout his 11-year career with the Brewers, there was no one who was cheered and booed more than Rickie Weeks. While crushing wrist and ankle injuries and struggles at the plate never allowed him to live up to his full potential, Weeks was able to scratch out over 1,000 hits in his time with the club.

Last season, Weeks had his first year full coming off the bench and put up solid numbers. He finished the year with a .274 average and a .809 OPS. He was even able to finish with the team’s best OPS numbers throughout the second half.

By signing with the Mariners, he provides great insurance should Robinson Cano face injury and he also could provide a plus power bat from the outfield. Were he able to agree to play outfield in Milwaukee he may still have been there this season. It will be interesting to watch his adjustment to the position this spring.

4. John Axford-Colorado Rockies

John Axford was one of the best and worst pitchers in the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen over the past decade. When he was in command of his full repertoire of pitches, he was unhittable. When he struggled with command, balls steadily flew out of Miller Park.

Since leaving the Brewers, Axford has bounced all around the league. The Rockies will be his fifth team he will pitch for the last three years. Joining former Brewer, Latroy Hawkins, Axford will look to again find what made him one of the better relievers in the game in 2011.

It will be an uphill battle to climb, especially considering that he has faltered greatly in recent years and will be pitching in a hitter’s paradise in Coors Field.

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5. Prince Fielder–Texas Rangers

Last season was supposed to be a career year for the slugging Prince Fielder as some even projected him to be an MVP candidate. But it turned out to be a nightmare. Usually an ironman, Fielder was only able to remain healthy for 43 games. Instead of driving the ball, he managed to hit just three home runs and batted a career worst .247. Even worse was his paltry .720 OPS.

Returning from major neck surgery, Fielder will have a lot to prove in 2015 if he wants to remain among the most elite of sluggers.

6. Yovani Gallardo–Texas Rangers

Speaking of Rangers, Yovani Gallardo has a big season of his own coming in Texas. Coming off of a season where he had his career best 3.51 ERA, Gallardo will be pitching for a new contract in with the Rangers. Formerly viewed as the ace of the Brewers’ staff, he will join similar rotation that has plenty of talent when healthy.

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