With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Brewers squad each day this week. Today's topic: Who might surprise?
MILWAUKEE -- The roster decisions are out of his control, but Lewis Brinson, the Brewers' top prospect, does know this: In his own mind, he is ready for the Major Leagues.
"I think so. I'm shooting for it," said Brinson, who is capable of manning all three outfield spots. "I've been working my butt off all offseason to make my dreams come true this year, to get up there and help the Brewers win, and help them win for a long time."
It would qualify as a surprise to see Brinson get that opportunity on Opening Day, since the Brewers have seven other outfielders on the 40-man roster, and Brinson, who took over top Brewers prospect status after shortstop Orlando Arcia moved to the Majors last year, has played only 31 games above Double-A.
The Brewers are poised to start Ryan Braun in left field, Keon Broxton in center and Domingo Santana in right, with left-handed-hitting Kirk Nieuwenhuis starting regularly in center and right when the matchups make sense. If Milwaukee opens the season with five true outfielders, Michael Reed might be the leading candidate since he has a bit of big league experience. It's more likely that utility man Hernan Perez will fill that final spot, like he did last season while appearing at all three outfield positions. Even second baseman Scooter Gennett will get a taste of outfield play this spring.
"I'm going to go out there and control what I can control," Brinson said. "Whatever happens at the end of spring, or in May or June or at the end of the season, whenever it happens, that's not up to me. I'm going to go out there and play my game and whenever I get up there, I get up there."
The Brewers acquired Brinson, along with pitcher Luis Ortiz and outfielder Ryan Cordell, last Aug. 1 from the Rangers for Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress. The trade capped a frenzy of activity for Brewers GM David Stearns, who had a different trade in place with the Indians, only to see Lucroy exercise his veto rights.
Twenty-four hours later, the Brewers struck a deal with the Rangers. Brinson, 22, made a good first impression by hitting .382/.387/.618 in 93 plate appearances for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He ascended to No. 1 on MLBPipeline.com's list of the top Brewers prospects, and last month was ranked the 18th-best prospect in the game.
He was one of five Brewers farmhands in the top 100.
"It's cool," Brinson said. "I tell everybody all the time I'm honored to be on a prospect list, that [analysts] consider me one of the best players in all the Minor Leagues. It's pretty cool to get that [recognition].
"But at the same time, I want to not be a prospect anymore. That means I've been in the big leagues for a while, and that's my ultimate goal. It's all good and dandy now, but the ultimate goal is to get to the big leagues."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.