With no clear-cut answer at third base for the 2016 season, the Brewers decision to outright Hernan Perez to Triple-A in early November came as a bit of a surprise to some who follow the team.
Despite hitting .270 in 90 games after joining Milwaukee last June, the Brewers opted to remove the 24-year-old infielder from their 40-man roster, hoping to get some more production out of the hot corner in 2016.
The big knocks against Perez throughout his young career have been his lack of power and a lack of patience at the plate, resulting in few walks and a low on base percentage.
Following his demotion, Perez agreed to a minor league deal with the Brewers and chose to head off to winter ball in his native Venezuela, looking to make improvements to his game.
Through 53 games with Tigres de Aragua the results are starting to show. While the average remains about the same (.271), Perez has shown increased patience and more noteably, a surge in power at the plate. 19 of his 57 hits have gone for extra bases including seven doubles, four triples and eight home runs.
With only one big league home run on his resume, Perez never hit more than eight in any minor league season and only has 30 career minor league blasts over the course of seven seasons, so the power binge he’s been on recently is a welcome sight and gives the Brewers hopes that the youngster could still develop into their answer at a suddenly crowded position.
Elsewhere in winter ball pitcher Ariel Pena turned in another solid outing in the Dominican Republic, tossing three perfect innings on Monday. Through his first two starts, Pena has allowed just one unearned run and only two hits in seven innings of work.
Newly acquired pitcher Daniel Tillman also posted strong numbers in twelve relief appearances in Puerto Rico. The 26-year-old righty went 2-0 with a 1.98 earned run average, allowing just three runs in 13.2 innings on the mound. He struck out 15 while walking just two.
Shortstop Orlando Arcia keeps on keeping on at the plate in Venezuela, posting a line of .311/.396/.444 through 26 games for Caribes de Anzoátegui. He’s also walked 11 times while striking out just 13.
On the flip side, the struggles continue for outfielder Domingo Santana, who is batting just .181 with 28 strikeouts in 23 games.
– Milwaukee agreed to terms on a minor league contract with left-handed pitcher Nick Hagadone that includes an invite to big league spring training. The 29-year-old Hagadone appeared in 36 games with Cleveland last season, going 0-1 with a 4.28 ERA pitching out of the Indians bullpen.
– Tim Dillard will also be a Brewer once again in 2016, announcing that he will be returning for a 14th season in Milwaukee’s organization. Originally a 34th round pick back in 2002, Dillard made his major league debut with the Brewers in 2008 and appeared in 28 games for their Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs last season.
– Pitcher Brandon Kintzler will not be back however, as he agreed to a new minor league deal with the Minnesota Twins.
– Right-hander Preston Guilmet also opted to head to the American League Central, inking a new deal with the Detroit Tigers.
– The Brewers also cut ties with pitcher Yunior Santana who never advanced past rookie ball. Originally signed as an outfielder, Santana converted to the mound last season but struggled in 12 relief appearances in the Dominican Summer League.
– Catcher Cameron Garfield found a new job after being released by the Brewers late last season, agreeing to terms with the Colorado Rockies on a minor league deal. A former second round pick, Garfield’s career was derailed by injury early on and was a surprise cut last season.