The Milwaukee Brewers have only been playing spring training games for a few days, but Chad Spanberger has already begun to stand out.
It seems like every year there is one player that stands out in spring training that no one saw coming. For the Milwaukee Brewers, over the past few years, it’s been a first baseman each time. In 2018, it was waiver claim Jesus Aguilar, then in 2019 is was Ji-Man Choi, and now in 2020, the early standout performer is Chad Spanberger.
Spanberger was acquired by the Brewers back on November 4th in the trade that sent Chase Anderson to the Blue Jays. Spanberger spent the 2019 season with Toronto’s Double-A affiliate, hitting .237/.308/.399 with 13 homers in a relative down year for the young first baseman. In 2018, Spanberger hit 27 bombs with 90 RBIs, 17 stolen bases, and a .298/.355/.538 slash line across a few levels of A-ball.
Through three minor league seasons, the 24 year old has 59 homers, .274 batting average, and .841 OPS. Overall, that’s very solid production for the former 6th round pick out of the University of Arkansas.
Dominating in Spring
Through the first three spring training games, Spanberger is hitting .600 (3-for-5) with two home runs and a double. While this is still a very small sample size, the early returns are promising.
However, no matter how well Spanberger plays over the next few weeks, he’s unlikely to follow in the footsteps of Aguilar and Choi in pushing his way to the roster.
You see, Spanberger is not on the 40 man roster, and he isn’t even listed as a non-roster invitee to big league camp. He’s simply been borrowed from minor league camp.
Where Could Spanberger End Up?
After his stats took a slight dip in Double-A last year, there’s a chance he heads back to Double-A in 2020, with the Biloxi Shuckers. But if his solid spring performance continues, Spanberger could find himself assigned to Triple-A to start the year.
The Brewers currently have a lot of depth at first base at or near the big league level, but lack a long-term solution at the position. Ryan Braun‘s contract is up at the end of season. Justin Smoak signed for only one year with a club option for next year. Ryon Healy signed a one year deal but is still arbitration eligible. There’s also Logan Morrison, who signed a minor league contract with the Brewers for 2020.
While the 2020 first base job is pretty much taken care of, the 2021 job is basically up for grabs. Spanberger can put himself in solid position for that 2021 job with a great season in the minors this year.
While these first few days of spring training won’t get Spanberger to the Opening Day roster, unless a rash of injuries occur, it can put him on the radar for the Brewers for 2021 and it should put him on the radar for Brewers fans when thinking about the future of the first base position.
Spanberger is the early surprise of camp, and hopefully he can keep it up throughout the next month.