Milwaukee Brewers: Who are the biggest surprises in camp so far?

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 04: Domingo Santana
PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 04: Domingo Santana /

The Milwaukee Brewers season starts for real in less than three weeks. Several jobs are still up for grabs, but a few players have already separated themselves from the rest.

The competition for the starting second baseman, bench roles, and fifth starter are still a few weeks from reaching a conclusion. However, there are clear front runners for each role.

Who will round out the Brewers bench?

The Milwaukee Brewers have four outfield slots locked up, and it looks like they’ll carry Eric Thames on their roster as well. That means that Keon Broxton, Brett Phillips, Jesus Aguilar, and Ji-man Choi are fighting it out for one roster spot.

Broxton is still doing Broxton-like things. He’s 4-for-5 in stolen base attempts, and blasted a homer. Broxton has also struck out 12 times in 31 plate appearances. What’s odd is that he’s also drawn six walks and owns a .387 on-base percentage.

Broxton looked like a long shot for the 25-man roster this spring, but Phillips is off to a rough start with a .249 OPS in 29 plate appearances. Unless Phillips turns his spring around quickly, he’ll head back to Minor League camp before Spring Training ends.

Aguilar is still struggling and owns a .690 OPS in 31 plate appearances. Choi has turned heads in camp with an OPS over 1.000 in 25 plate appearances. However, he needs an injury to Thames or Ryan Braun to get any consideration for the 25-man roster.

How about the competition for second base?

Hernan Perez has impressed at the plate with a 1.005 OPS in 33 plate appearances. He’s swiped a pair of bases, and drive in 10 runs already. The concern here is that he’s only logged five innings at second base. Based on playing time distribution, it’s clear that Jonathan Villar and Eric Sogard are the front runners here. Villar has 41 innings at second base in eight starts, while Sogard has started five times and logged 25 innings.

Villar owns a .751 OPS, but he’s 0-for-1 in stolen base attempts. Sogard has hit well in 21 plate appearances. He currently owns a 1.102 OPS.

And what about the fifth starter?

Brent Suter and Wade Miley still own 0.00 ERAs and Junior Guerra has continued to impress. Yovani Gallardo is pretty much out of the running at this point, but a strong finish to the spring may put him in line for a bullpen role.

Suter has fanned eight in eight innings of work with only two walks allowed. Miley has 11 K’s to only one walk in eight innings so far. Guerra owns a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. Miley has easily been the biggest surprise of camp so far, and may force his way into the starting rotation before the Brewers head north.

Are there any players to worry about?

Yes. Brandon Woodruff has made three appearances and looked rough in most of them. He has a 12.27 ERA in 3 2/3 innings of work. He’s struck out seven and walked one, but he’s been tagged for three homers so far. Given that manager Craig Counsell didn’t commit to Woodruff when asked about locks for the rotation last January, there’s a chance that Woodruff heads to back to Colorado Springs. He’s working on his curve ball, but he needs to start racking up innings if he’s going to start the season in the Milwaukee Brewers rotation.

Next: Why isn't Lance Lynn on the Brewers roster?

The Milwaukee Brewers still have 18 days before they have to make decisions. The few position battles currently going on could flip, but the front runners are clear. Phillips and Gallardo are on the outside looking in, while Broxton and a few of the starters have a clear lead for now.