The 2023 Milwaukee Brewers are going to look very different from the 2022 version of the team, there is no doubt about that. There are going to be a lot of mouths to feed when it comes to their prospects, so paving the way for them to get playing time will be key for the Brewers.
There is going to be an opportunity for some players to step up for the Crew in 2023, so who could we expect to take leap into an expanded role next season?
Player #1 who should see an expanded role: Esteury Ruiz
There is a significant number of vacated plate appearances that will need to be filled in 2023. Hunter Renfroe was traded to the Angels, Kolten Wong was traded to the Mariners, Jace Peterson signed via free agency with the Athletics, and Omar Narvaez and Andrew McCutchen are also likely to depart in free agency. That is a total of 2,223 plate appearances that the Brewers will need to replace.
While the trade for Jesse Winker should help replace some of those vacated plate appearances, the Brewers will need players elsewhere in the organization to step up and fill that void, and I believe Esteury Ruiz can do just that.
Esteury Ruiz, the number 8 prospect in the Brewers organization, was one of the prospects acquired for Josh Hader from the San Diego Padres last season. Only appearing in three games for the Brewers in 2022, I believe the floor is set for Ruiz to have an expanded role with Milwaukee in 2023.
Ruiz has blazing fast speed, and that is reflected in his numbers. Per Baseball Savant's sprint speed metric, Ruiz's sprint speed of 29.8 feet per second puts him in the 98th percentile in MLB. Additionally, he was one of the best players across Triple-A last season when it comes to stealing bases.
In 2022, Esteury Ruiz appeared in 65 games in Triple-A across his two organizations, and accumulated a total of 48 stolen bases. Having that caliber of speed not only in the outfield, but also on the base path, is very valuable. And Ruiz showed his ability to get on base in the minor leagues last season.
In Triple-A in 2022, among batters with a minimum 300 plate appearances, Ruiz had the third highest batting average (.323.) and the highest on-base percentage (.428). Finishing the season with a WRC+ of 139, the potential he shows is enticing.
Minor league success does not always guarantee major league success, but Ruiz flashes a skillset that could be very useful for the Brewers. While there will be ample opportunity for other exciting prospects to succeed next year, I believe Esteury Ruiz will have a shot at being a key contributor for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2023.