Rivera’s Bat Opening Eyes in Arizona



The tag on infielder Yadiel Rivera has been that of an all glove, no bat utility man through the early part of his career. But the 23-year-old Puerto Rican is doing his best to change that perception through the first few weeks of the Arizona Fall League season.

In his first seven contests with the Surprise Saguaros, the 6’3″ Rivera is batting .481 with two doubles, a triple and a home run that all contribute to an OPS of 1.316. His ten runs batted in are second on the team to Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and he’s shown good patience as well, drawing six walks to boost his on base percentage to .576.

Originally drafted by Milwaukee in the 9th round in 2009, Rivera split the 2015 season between Double-A Biloxi and Triple-A Colorado Springs, hitting a combined .253 with 55 runs scored and earning a September call-up to Milwaukee. He made his Major League debut on September 22nd against the Cubs and appeared in seven games down the stretch with the Brewers.

With a crowded infield mix that includes Jean Segura, Orlando Arcia, Luis Sardinas and others, Rivera could find playing time tough to come by in Milwaukee, but his strong showing thus far in Arizona against some of baseball’s top young competition could help to earn him a spot with the big league club at some point in 2016 or make him an attractive trade candidate for another team looking for infield help.

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– One of four players Milwaukee received from Houston in exchange for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers, pitcher Adrian Houser has quickly established himself as one of the top guns on a loaded Surprise pitching staff. Through his first three starts, the 22-year-old right-hander is 1-0 with a 0.90 earned run average, allowing just one run in ten innings of work.

– Acquired from the Astros along with Houser this past July, outfielder Brett Phillips has enjoyed a strong start to his AFL season as well. The 21-year-old left-handed hitting centerfielder has hit safely in six of his first seven games with Surprise, sporting a .346 batting average that includes three consecutive multi-hit games.

– Also in Arizona, pitcher Jacob Barnes has allowed just three total base runners through his first three relief appearances, holding opposing hitters to a .118 batting average. The former 14th round pick out of Florida Gulf Coast University has struck out seven and walked just one while adding velocity to his fastball, clocking in as high as 95 mph.

Yhonathan Barrios, a 5’10” right-hander from Cartegena, Columbia, whom Milwaukee picked up from Pittsburgh in 2015, has not allowed an earned run in any of his first four outings for Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League. A converted infielder who has struggled with his control in the past, Barrios has yet to walk a batter in his short Venezuelan stint.

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