The 2017 season saw quite the overhaul of the Milwaukee Brewers infield. Travis Shaw and Eric Thames entered their first seasons in a Brewers uniform and they did not disappoint. Both first and third base were major question marks heading into that offseason prior to the 2017 season. Shaw and Thames answered those questions.
Another great surprise was former top prospect Orlando Arcia making big strides in his first full season in the big leagues. His bat started to heat up in May and June and he finished with 15 homers and a .277 average. Arcia is the clear future at the shortstop position.
Second base is the position with major question marks, not only for 2018, but beyond. Jonathan Villar looked like the future after a breakout 2016 season. However, he regressed hard in 2017 and his future is now up in the air. The Brewers have several prospects that can handle second base. But which one is the future?
For me, the ideal left side of the infield is already set. Travis Shaw should be able to lock down the hot corner for several years, even with the presence of Lucas Erceg down on the farm. Orlando Arcia is the ideal shortstop for the next 10-12 years in Milwaukee. He is a superstar in the making.
The right side of the infield is much more difficult. At first base, Eric Thames is there at present but he is already 31 years old and only under contract for the next two years. There are other options for first base in the near future. Ryan Braun is a candidate to be moved to first given the outfield surplus. Also, Jake Gatewood is the only prospect on the farm whose future is tied to the position. Lucas Erceg could also make the shift with Shaw staying at third.
At second base, it’s a matter of who can get to the big leagues and claim the job first. Jonathan Villar will get the first half of 2018 to try to claim the job. If he can’t, Mauricio Dubon will get his opportunity. If Dubon can’t get things going, it’s a race between Isan Diaz and Keston Hiura to get to the big leagues first. But I don’t think it will get that far.
Diaz and Hiura may have higher ceilings but both come with significant question marks. After a big 2016, Diaz regressed hard in High-A, hitting a meager .222 in Carolina. Hiura is rated as a poor defender and has dealt with arm injuries for several years. If he can’t even play second base defensively, where can he go?
My ideal future infield has Travis Shaw at third, Orlando Arcia at short, Mauricio Dubon at second, and Lucas Erceg at first base.
Dubon may not have a ton of power, but he hits for a high average and is a tremendous defender that can play multiple positions. Dubon, with his high average and great speed, makes for an ideal leadoff hitter. I feel he will settle in at second base later in 2018 after a little seasoning in Triple-A. Erceg’s bat is moving quickly through the minors and it will force his way onto the big league roster. He can take over first base for several years.