Brewers spring training roster battle #3: Utility infielder
The Brewers let their previous utility infielder Jace Peterson walk in free agency this offseason and sign with the Oakland A's. Mike Brosseau also handled some utility duties last season as well. Now Peterson's old job is up for grabs.
The Brewers will need coverage at third base and second base and probably a little help at first base on occasion as well. Jace Peterson could play any spot the Brewers asked him to, including the outfield. With Brian Anderson in the fold, they may not need their next utility man to handle outfield duties, but it's nevertheless a very important job.
Mike Brosseau is bidding to move up into that role but he has competition from Abraham Toro and Owen Miller. Brosseau and Miller are right handed hitters while Toro is a switch hitter.
If the Brewers want to play matchups, a switch hitting Toro gives them an advantage. However, Toro has struggled to consistently make hard contact. He doesn't whiff much and puts the ball in play, but can't do damage and usually pops it up or beats it into the ground. When he does make hard contact, he can do some damage and has some power. If he can make some adjustments and hit the ball hard more often, Toro could be a sneaky good bat.
Working in Brosseau's favor is that he was with the team last year and was one of their best hitters against left handed pitchers, which was something the rest of the team struggled against. He filled in as the utility man last year when Peterson was hurt and did well. He didn't do anything to lose the job in that time, but it comes down to spring training now.
Owen Miller doesn't have a ton of power, but in his time in the minor leagues, he never had a season where he hit below .290 or a season with an OBP below .355. That on-base ability hasn't translated to the big leagues so far, but the talent is there. Perhaps being with his hometown team, the Fredonia native can turn things around at the plate. He can play every infield spot and is a solid defender.
All three of these players have minor league options. Brosseau may have entered spring training as the leader in the clubhouse, but not by a lot. He doesn't have a firm grip on the job and it'll be a battle between these three to earn the utility job. There may only be room for one of the three to make the team, although there's a chance two of them could make it, depending on what the Brewers decide to do with Keston Hiura. Speaking of...