The Milwaukee Brewers‘ rather pressing problem at the infield has not gotten any better as Spring Training schedules are well underway.
However temporary it may be in the regular season before Corey Hart is ready to return, the simple fact is that the team does not have a first baseman right now.
The team seem reluctant to make a call for outside help via a trade, putting the Brewers somewhere between a rock and a hard place of having to potentially watch Alex Gonzalez – a career shortstop with an sub-.300 OBP in three of his last four seasons – take the field in place of Hart for over a month.
But, what if the team already has a less depressing in-house option?
Enter Hunter Morris, presumed first baseman of the future for the Brewers.
The 24-year old first baseman had been ranked the best power hitter in the Brewers’ system twice by Baseball America over the last three seasons, and his minor league numbers are reflective of that. Having advanced to AA in his age-23 season, the lefty bat was the Southern League’s MVP in 2012 after posting a .303/.357/.563 triple-slash, with 28 homers over 571 PA.
The Brewers had been giving him plenty of opportunity too, starting him in four spring training games so far, and giving him 13 at-bats.
The problem? Well, he’s had literally nothing to show for it – no hits, no walks, and five strikeouts.
That kind of start will put a seasoned veteran on uneven footing with a team, let alone a prospect trying to get his first taste as an injury replacement.
Despite that, Morris may still represent the team’s best, and most intriguing option of having an above replacement-level first baseman during the time that Hart is out, if only because of his power potential and upside, which is a whole lot better than what Gonzalez will give the team at first.
They could consider it an early preview for what the team would have likely gotten a look at by September of 2013 anyway. Morris lacks of AAA experience, but the first baseman is 24, and at an age where prospects of his ilk generally get their first taste of things.
As well, it’s not really as though the team will have too much to lose production-wise over the five weeks, not when the other guy is Gonzalez.
At best, Morris gains some confidence knowing he can stay above water in the bigs. At worst? They simply go back to Gonzalez, whose production will likely be among the worst first baseman in the league anyway.
That said, before the decision is made for Opening Day, the Brewers will probably want to see a hit from Morris in spring first.
The opportunity is there for the 24-year old, but he’ll have to try harder not to let it get away.