2:04PM: The Brewers officially announced the selection of Frelick’s contract. Tapia was designated for assignment in the corresponding move, potentially ending the outfielder’s tenure in Milwaukee after a little over a month. Tapia quickly caught on with the Brewers after being released by the Red Sox, and hit .173/.267/.288 over 61 PA in a Milwaukee uniform.
12:50PM: The Brewers are promoting top outfield prospect Sal Frelick, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). Frelick’s first game with Milwaukee will mark the 23-year-old’s big league debut.
It was a little over two years ago that the Brewers selected Frelick with the 15th overall pick of the 2021 draft, so it has been a pretty quick road to the majors for the Boston College product. In fact, it is quite possible Frelick might’ve been on Milwaukee’s roster even earlier if he didn’t have to undergo thumb surgery in April, and he missed a little under two months while recovering.
This notable injury might explain Frelick’s underwhelming numbers with Triple-A Nashville this season. After hitting .365/.435/.508 over 215 at Triple-A in 2022, there was some speculation that Frelick might make the Brewers’ roster in Spring Training. However, he was optioned to the minors for more seasoning, and hasn’t really gotten on track, hitting .247/.333/.342 over 183 PA. Frelick has been hitting better over the last week, and despite this small sample size, the Brewers brass has apparently seen enough to believe that Frelick is ready for the Show.
Of course, the shaky state of Milwaukee’s outfield has also left the club looking for any answers it can find. Left fielder Christian Yelich is enjoying a tremendous season, but center field and right field have been revolving doors. Joey Wiemer, Tyrone Taylor, Blake Perkins, Raimel Tapia, Jesse Winker, Owen Miller, and the injured Brian Anderson and Garrett Mitchell have all gotten varying degrees of playing time without anyone providing particularly much offense. It remains to be seen exactly how long of a look Frelick might get in his first taste of the big leagues, but there’s plenty of opportunity for him to quickly carve out a niche for himself if he hits well.
Even despite his injury-shortened 2023 campaign, midseason prospect rankings are still quite high on Frelick’s potential. MLB Pipeline rates Frelick 17th on their list, with Baseball America (30th) and the Athletic’s Keith Law (31st) not far behind. All outlets give him a 70-grade for speed, and Frelick has stolen 44 bases from 58 chances over his minor league career. Pipeline and BA also give Frelick a 70-grade for his hitting ability, praising his approach at the plate and his excellent knack for drawing walks. Frelick’s power is still a question mark, and Pipeline is a little questionable about Frelick’s ability to stick in center field even if Baseball America and Law are both more bullish. Law writes that Frelick is “at least a 60 defender in center,” and uses Brett Gardner as a possible comp for Frelick at the MLB level.