Brewers shortstop Jean Segura will be 23 years old on March 17. He has already played 45 Major League games. Segura really can't be considered a prospect anymore.
Segura has a tremendous future as a multi-tooled middle infielder. His current game is just fine, but his upside is outstanding. We haven't even begun to see the talent Segura brings to his game.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Segura doesn't carry any excess baggage anywhere on his frame. However, he is much stronger than he appears.
The Brewers obtained the right-handed-hitting Segura and pitchers John Hellweg and Ariel Pena from the Angels in July 2012 for All-Star pitcher Zack Greinke. Segura was the centerpiece of the deal. Realizing it would be difficult to sign Greinke as he entered free agency, the Brewers made an outstanding trade to obtain three high-quality young players.
The Angels signed Segura as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2007. He began his career that year as a 17-year-old playing for the Angels' Dominican Summer League team. Segura had 252 plate appearances in 61 games, hitting .324 and stealing 22 bases. He struck out only 28 times. Segura served notice that the Angels had selected a very talented player for their future.
Segura illustrated the value and importance of casting a wide net when scouting for talent. He worked his way up the in Angels' Minor League system and had completed five seasons prior to being traded to Milwaukee.
Segura really opened up some eyes in 2010 during his age-20 season. He hit .313 in 581 plate appearances at Class A Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League. The surprising statistic was the career-high 10 home runs Segura hit.
Not known as a power hitter, Segura uses his other tools. For example, he has enough speed to be really dangerous as a potential basestealing threat. That 2010 season at Cedar Rapids, Segura stole 50 bases while being caught only 10 times.
Because of his existing strength and the potential of more muscle development to come, I think Segura can gain a bit more power in the future. Perhaps those 10 home runs at Cedar Rapids weren't such a fluke. He sure doesn't look it, but he's solid and will not back down when faced with a barreling baserunner charging into him at second base.
Segura's speed certainly doesn't take a back seat to his stellar hitting ability. Above-average Major League-quality defense, sufficient arm strength and throwing accuracy are all part of his game. That current lack of raw power may be the only thing that keeps Segura from being a true five-tool player. Whenever I have scouted him, at least two or more of his abilities show up. Often times Segura displays multiple talents, which I was fortunate to witness in the 2011 Arizona Fall League.
Segura played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 2011 AFL, where he spent his time at shortstop for 19 games. He had 74 fielding chances and made only two errors. In the past, Segura has also played a very effective second base.
Segura hit .310 in 87 at-bats that fall. He hit .382 against left-handed pitching. Of Segura's 27 hits, six were doubles and two were triples. He can hit the gaps and get that extra base with hustle and speed. But without question, right now I'd classify Segura as more of a singles hitter.
Segura has incredibly fast hands at the plate. He takes pitches to all fields and makes good contact. He is a legitimate barrel-of-the-bat hitter with the ability to recognize pitches and react accordingly.
Defensively, Segura shows good range to both sides with the ability to come in quickly on slow-hit grounders. While he may not be among the elite shortstops in the game, Segura is still a work in progress. He has enough ability at both middle-infield positions to make all the plays. Segura's arm strength is strong and he's accurate with his throws.
If there is any room for concern, it might be with Segura's ability to remain healthy. He has dealt with a broken ankle (2008), a broken finger ('09) and a torn hamstring ('11). The health issues have to be put in the past.
Segura logged a great deal of playing time in 2012. He even played winter ball, but is showing no signs of being tired or worn down.
Last season, Segura played for two Double-A clubs. He hit .294 for the Angels' Arkansas affiliate during the first half of the season. He also played one Major League game for the Angles, going hitless in three plate appearances.
After being traded to the Brewers, Segura played for Double-A Huntsville, where he hit .433 in eight games. He has never played at Triple-A. In August, Segura was summoned to the Major League club. He played in 44 games for the Brewers and went to the plate 163 times. He got 39 hits, including four doubles and three triples. Segura also stole seven bases and was caught only once. His batting average was a respectable .264 in his brief big league stint.
At this early phase of Spring Training, Segura is hitting the ball well and experiencing a solid spring. If things go as planned, he should open the season as the Brewers' starting shortstop.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.