Classic departures give young infield chance

Villar, Perez leaving on March 5 will provide Brewers opportunity to watch prospects

Classic departures give young infield chance

PHOENIX -- The pending departures of Jonathan Villar and Hernan Perez for the World Baseball Classic will open Spring Training opportunities for the likes of 22-year-old shortstop prospect Mauricio Dubon, who got his first taste of Cactus League action in Sunday's 10-8 loss to the Dodgers.

"I kind of think of him as the Double-A shortstop, and that player should be playing in Spring Training games," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Especially when he's a young player."

The Brewers have eight infielders on the 40-man roster, but Villar and Perez will leave March 5 for the Classic. Scooter Gennett is gaining experience this spring in the outfield, and Eric Thames and Jesus Aguilar are not expected to play positions other than first base. Of the Brewers' non-roster invitees at big league camp, only one, Eric Sogard, is an infielder.

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So Milwaukee will employ some of its Minor Leaguers, including Dubon, Isan Diaz, Lucas Erceg and Nate Orf, all of whom have been part of a minicamp on the Minor League side at Maryvale Baseball Park.

Diaz is No. 8 on MLBPipeline.com's list of the top Brewers prospects, while Dubon is No. 9 and Erceg is No. 17. An updated list will be unveiled later this week.

"You're going to see some of those guys quite a bit, I would think," Counsell said.

Bandy's big arm

When he was asked Saturday for a scouting report on Jett Bandy, the former Angels catcher now with the Brewers, Angels coach Ron Roenicke started with praise for Bandy's throwing arm. A day later, Bandy showed off that arm in his spring debut, throwing out a pair of would-be base stealers in the first inning and helping Brewers starter Wily Peralta navigate past some command issues.

The Brewers traded another strong-armed catcher, Martin Maldonado, for Bandy in December, and he's one of three catchers competing in camp for the Opening Day start.

"It was certainly a good inning for him," Counsell said. "I like the job Wily did that inning, too. Wily's gotten a lot better at that as he's gotten older and more experienced. But Jett threw out runners last year at a pretty good rate. It's obviously something -- it's a good friend for a pitcher, that's for sure."

Peralta, Bandy complete the DP

'Koos' gets company

The Brewers have hired another bullpen catcher to augment Marcus Hanel, a Milwaukee native and former Pirates Minor Leaguer who has long filled that role alone. The newcomer is Robinzon Diaz, who had brief stints in the Major Leagues with the Blue Jays and Pirates before finishing his career in the Brewers' Minor League system in 2015.

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.