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Chourio, Frelick bring cheers to Brewers

First-year players, veterans mix among Milwaukee's All-Stars
Jackson Chourio produced a .973 OPS in 62 games with Single-A Carolina. (Neal Hock/Carolina Mudcats)
November 14, 2022

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Milwaukee Brewers. 2022 Organization Summary Triple-A Nashville: 91-58 (division

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Milwaukee Brewers.

2022 Organization Summary

Triple-A Nashville: 91-58 (division winner)
Double-A Biloxi: 67-68
High-A Wisconsin: 69-60
Single-A Carolina: 69-62
ACL Brewers Blue: 19-34
ACL Brewers Gold: 32-21
DSL Brewers 1: 22-37
DSL Brewers 2: 27-32
Overall record: 396-372 (.516 winning percentage, 13th among MLB organizations)

Brewers Organization All-Stars

Catcher: Jakson Reetz

After eight seasons in the Nationals system, Reetz signed a Minor League deal with the Brewers in December and proceeded to have his best season as a professional. The 26-year-old hit .281/.392/.636 with 22 homers and 16 doubles in 62 games with Double-A Biloxi -- numbers that made him a Southern League end-of-season All-Star even though he moved up to Triple-A Nashville on July 11.

Reetz was called up to the Majors for one day in August but didn't play. He was designated for assignment and moved to the Royals on Aug. 24. While we don’t count his Kansas City numbers for this selection, his 30 homers across three different affiliates more than doubled his previous career high of 13 and ranked third among all Minor League backstops. The 25 he hit as a Brewers farmhand led the organization.

First base: Jon Singleton

Most will remember Singleton from his days as a top prospect in the Phillies and Astros systems. After a stint in the Mexican League in 2021, the 31-year-old first baseman made his return to affiliated ball for the first time since 2018 after signing a Minor League deal with the Brewers last December (six days after Reetz), and he brought his trademark patience and power to the plate with Nashville.

Singleton led all Minor Leaguers with 117 walks in 134 games and was seventh among full-season qualifiers with a 20.1 percent BB rate. His .375 OBP was third-best among full-season batters in the Milwaukee organization, while his 24 homers placed second. His work impressed Milwaukee enough to bring him back on another Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training for 2023.

Second base: Tyler Black

The 2021 33rd overall pick’s season was cut short in July by a left scapula fracture, but his impact before then at High-A Wisconsin was certainly worthy of inclusion. Black batted .281/.404/.424 with 21 extra-base hits and 13 steals in 64 games before the injury. He was the only Milwaukee Minor Leaguer to walk more times (45) than he struck out (44) while still getting at least 200 plate appearances (283).

The Wright State product also saw time at third and center as the Brewers tried to find him a home, and he continued to move around in the Arizona Fall League, where he had another campaign end early due to a fractured left thumb.

Third base: Cam Devanney

The 2019 15th-rounder split time between shortstop and the hot corner, but we’ll place him here where there’s more of an opening. Devanney hit only five homers at Double-A Biloxi in 2021 but broke out for 23 between the same level and Triple-A this summer. His .492 slugging percentage was second-best in the organization, behind only Jackson Chourio’s .538, while his .834 OPS placed fourth.

Shortstop: Brice Turang

Turang’s profile has been steady since the Brewers selected him 21st overall four years ago -- solid left-handed hitter for average, plus runner, good defense up the middle, little power. He kept up the positive parts of his game by hitting .286, stealing 34 bases and maintaining a 19.6 percent K rate in 131 Triple-A games, while adding center, second and third to his defensive profile.

But his pop, well, popped in 2022 too. The left-handed slugger went deep 13 times -- more than doubling his previous career best of six homers -- and slugged above .400 (.412) over a season for the first time in his Minor League career.

“Not sure if it was a direct connection, but he had his hands higher this year and seemed to have even better rhythm at the plate,” Brewers vice president of Minor League operations Tom Flanagan said via email. “Brice remains one of the most under-the-radar players that I can remember. Between the at-bats he puts together and the offense/baserunning that he brings to the way he can play shortstop, it’s impressive.”

Outfield: Jackson Chourio

Could there be anyone else at the top spot?

Chourio, who signed for $1.8 million out of Venezuela in January 2021, skipped right over the Arizona Complex League and jumped to Single-A Carolina after a brief stint in extended spring training once Milwaukee knew he could handle full-season ball as an 18-year-old. He quickly proved the organization correct, batting .324/.373/.600 with 40 extra-base hits (including 12 homers) and 10 steals in 62 games with the Mudcats. The .600 slugging and .973 OPS ranked third and fourth, respectively, among Single-A batters (with a minimum of 250 plate appearances), which is all the more amazing considering Chourio was the Carolina League’s youngest player when he debuted in May.

The teenage center fielder put up respectable numbers at High-A Wisconsin (.252/.317/.488) and was the only 18-year-old to reach Double-A when he made a late six-game cameo with Biloxi.

“A lot of our staff were very excited for Jackson coming into Spring Training, but I’m not sure anyone thought he would have that good of a year,” said Flanagan. “Where Jackson started the season was a discussion during Spring Training, and think it ended up playing out very nicely for him and allowed him to settle into a good routine coming out of Spring Training in the States.”

Sal Frelick

Similarly, Milwaukee had high hopes for Frelick after selecting him 15th overall in 2021, and the former Boston College star seemed to pass every test in climbing three levels from High-A to Triple-A. His .331 average in 562 plate appearances was the highest in the organization -- no other qualifier batted above .306 -- while his .403 OBP and .883 OPS were also best among Brewers full-season hitters.

The left-handed hitter was at his best at Nashville, where he had a .365/.435/.508 line while striking out only 7.4 percent of the time in 46 games. That K rate was third-lowest among the 376 batters with at least 200 plate appearances at the level this season.

“It was as impressive of a first full season as I’ve seen,” Flanagan said. “Specifically, improving his K rate as he moved up each level was most impressive. He has a very good two-strike approach, and that will really serve him well in the big leagues.”

Jace Avina

As a 14th-rounder out of a Nevada high school last year, Avina had a much lower profile than Frelick but certainly made his name known in a different way than his fellow member of the Class of 2021. The right-handed slugger was named Arizona Complex League MVP after leading the circuit in home runs (10), slugging (.630) and OPS (1.066). He debuted with Single-A Carolina on Aug. 6 and brought some pop there too with five more homers and a .471 slugging percentage over 28 games in his first taste of full-season ball.

The 19-year-old center fielder struck out at least 34 percent of the time at both of his stops this summer -- rates that will only get worse the higher he climbs unless he adjusts. But when a prospect, especially a late-round one, shows off elite skills this early, the organization gets excited.

“Jace has great power and was able to get to it often,” Flanagan said. “There are still areas he is working on to become a more complete hitter. But at his age, there are multiple ways to be a successful hitter, and he has been able to do that.”

Right-handed starter: Carlos Rodriguez

Make that four members of the Brewers’ 2021 Draft class on this list. Rodriguez -- a sixth-rounder out of a Florida junior college -- followed Frelick, Black and Avina with a successful first full season on the mound at Carolina and Wisconsin as he led Brewers full-season qualifiers in WHIP (1.06), average (.195), strikeout rate (30.1 percent) and FIP (3.54). His 3.01 ERA in 107 2/3 innings finished second among the same group.

He can throw in the mid-90s with his heater and sports an above-average changeup that helped him limit lefties to a .551 OPS.

“He was our most consistent starting pitcher this year and seemed to get better as the year progressed,” Flanagan said. “He pounds the strike zone, but still has the stuff get swing-and-miss.”

Left-handed starter: Brandon Knarr

Knarr sat atop the Brewers' ERA leaderboard with a 2.83 mark, and he put it up over a system-best 146 1/3 innings at Wisconsin and Biloxi. That innings total was seventh-highest in the Minors. The 24-year-old southpaw, who signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Tampa in July 2020, struck out a Milwaukee-high 152 and finished with a 1.22 WHIP.

Reliever: Cam Robinson

Designated closers are rarities in the Minor Leagues, so it can be a pleasant surprise to see someone own that role as Robinson did in 2022. The 23-year-old right-hander led the Minors with 25 saves (19 at Wisconsin, six at Biloxi) and finished with a 2.49 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 84 strikeouts over 65 innings across three levels, topping out at Nashville. His fastball and curve gave him the two above-average pitches needed to thrive as a reliever and could help him reach the Majors in 2023.

“We didn’t set out to have him rack up saves, but we wanted to get him into high-leverage opportunities,” Flanagan said. “A number of those were multi-inning appearances. It just so happened that he was able to close out games and take advantage of those big moments that he thrived in (and ended up saving a lot of ballgames in the process).”

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.