The Milwaukee Brewers’ biggest holes remain in corner infield positions. While they currently have Adam Lind (who I still feel will be traded in the offseason) and they also have Jason Rogers (who I am a huge fan of) as options at first right now on the major league roster, improvement in the system could be critical for the future. With the rumors continuing to fly that the Minnesota Twins are interested in Jonathan Lucroy in a trade, the Brewers should target first baseman/outfielder Max Kepler in return.
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While Kepler isn’t the top-prospect in the Twins very stacked system, if it wasn’t for his spectacular season in with the Chattanooga Lookouts in the Southern League, Brewer’ prospect Orlando Arcia would have probably been named Southern League Player of the Year. Kepler dominated AA pitching all year long, batting .322 in 112 games with nine home runs and a .947 OPS. Though many of the more advanced Twins’ were called-up by mid-season and taken out of the Lookouts’ lineup, Kepler continued to hit.
Signed as an international free agent out of Germany in 2009 as a 16-year-old prospect, Kepler has played in parts of six minor league seasons, and he has continued to develop with each season. While injuries have kept him out at times in other seasons, he fully showed his potential this year. This season he walked more than he struck out, mashed the baseball with 54 extra-base hit and he even stole 18 bases.
Chris Mitchell of Fangraphs, compared Kepler’s season to others in AA since 1990 and players like Joey Votto, Mark Kotsay and Curtis Granderson were close some of the closest comparisons. The author also notes however that prior to the 2015 season, his numbers are not anything close to resembling a “can’t miss prospect.”
Looking at the Twins future they are loaded with outfielders and not really in a position to move Joe Mauer from first meaning that finding an everyday spot for Kepler everyday may be tough. Packaging him in a deal that could help to acquire a top-flight catcher (a position where the Twins are the weakest) could be something desirable for both teams.
General manager David Stearns noted that teams can never have enough pitching, so if a deal was made the Brewers would also most likely try to pluck away a minor league pitcher as well (something the Twins have plenty of).
Trading Lucroy this offseason still a long-shot especially considering his veteran leadership that he not only provides to the roster, but also to the young pitching staff, but if he were to get dealt getting a young player like Kepler in return would be a big step towards finally solving the first base puzzle long-term.