Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #9 Jean Segura

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Single digits?

Single. Digits.

We’re in the home stretch, Brewer Nation. There are just nine days left until Opening Day at Miller Park. Sure, there are two exhibition games at The Keg this season against the Chicago White Sox, but despite the venue, it just isn’t the same as Opening Day will be. Brewers games in March 2013 don’t count.

All that said, let’s get right to today’s profile as we’re already into the afternoon.

This is another of the new entries to the countdown this year as he wasn’t even in the organization at this time last year. Along with Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena, the third and most important piece of the return when Zack Greinke was traded to the Angels is the subject of today’s profile. He is…

JeanSegura

Jean Segura.

The majority of 2012 was incredibly rough for the shortstop position for the Milwaukee Brewers. Alex Gonzalez, signed to start due to his defensive excellence was lost for the season at the beginning of the May. His backup, Cesar Izturis, was solid defensively but unlike the bat which Gonzalez carried to the plate, Izturis couldn’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag. That wasn’t for an abundance of plate discipline. Did you know that Izturis walked a whopping three times in 169 plate appearances as a Brewers?

Other men were tried at the position throughout the year and none of them were getting the job done.  Cody Ransom, Edwin Maysonet, Jeff Bianchi all started games at short, and do you remember the innings that Brooks Conrad spent at shortstop? Aramis Ramirez almost played shortstop in extra innings one day but the game ended before he got the chance. Yes, it was rough work on many days for Ron Roenicke filling out a lineup card. That much flux at shortstop isn’t a good thing regardless of the talent level of the men who keep swapping in and out, but when the options are those that I just listed, you can understand a little bit of what Roenicke was going through.

But then, at the end of July, a trade was made which brought Jean Segura to the organization. He was a shortstop who some thought wouldn’t stick at short very long and was better suited to being a second baseman, but he was still a shortstop at the time and was likely vastly superior to the available alternatives. The Brewers felt the same as after just eight games with Class-AA affiliate Huntsville, while hitting .433 in them, Segura was summoned to Milwaukee to stop the hemorrhaging. He arrived with some fanfare though other were skeptical as they would have preferred the Brewers had held onto Greinke.

Still, Segura arrived and set to work. He was solid in the field and occasionally spectacular, but his bat (career .313/.367/.439 in the minors) didn’t catch the same flight as Segura did. In fact, to continue the hyperbole, Segura’s bat was apparently waylayed in Hunstville for a few weeks. Segura hit .264/.321/.331 as a Brewer in 2012, but started out just .209/.250/.239 in August. To finish the year, Segura went .309/.378/.407 after August, putting fans more at ease not only with the acquisition, but also with the fact that he was up with the parent club at all. Many were concerned that bringing Segura up was either wasting service time, stunting his growth as a hitter, or both. It was nice to see Segura hit to end the year.

Segura then decided to play winter ball this off-season. The Dominican Republic native played in the Dominican Winter League for Gigantes del Cibao. In 148 at-bats over 35 games, Segura posted a slash line of .324/.379/.426. He even hit a pair of home runs. He was actually playing so much that the Brewers were a little concerned for the now 23-year-old. At only 5’10” and 200 pounds, there was a little worry about Segura wearing down in 2013 without enough of an off-season. Youth is on his side though and this spring he’s shown no ill effects. Against opponent quality with a 9.0 rating (as Baseball Reference defines 10.0 as all MLB-level and 8.0 as AAA-level), Segura has racked up .333/.349/.476 entering play today (March 23).

The best thing about Segura is his potential to further grow into his skills and what those skills could ultimately mean for a Milwaukee offense which looks to start the season with all but one of its best offensive lineup from 2012. Because even with Izturis, Random, Bianchi, and Maysonet combining for awful numbers, the Brewers finished at or near the top of the league in several offensive statistical categories. Adding in another stick which should at the very least produce hits and create runs more consistently than anybody else did in 2012 in the same job, the offense could become that much better in 2013.

That’s exciting.

The future certainly looks bright for the Brewers and Jean Segura. Even if he ultimately ends up at second base defensively one day, the time between then and now should be fun for the Brewers who look toward having a young shortstop with promise for a few years. That’s something they haven’t had since J.J. Hardy came to town, though he didn’t realize his potential until he was two teams removed from Milwaukee and with the Baltimore Orioles.

For 2013, Segura will likely be hitting 8th in the batting order most days to begin the year. As other things happen (injuries, poor play, etc) and Segura gets more experience at the big league level, he could work his way up the lineup, but he won’t be an everyday option in the second spot until 2014 at the earliest. That may one day be his lineup spot with the Brewers, but it wouldn’t be until other players have moved on from the Brewers one way or another.

But the future beyond 2013 is for next year’s installment of “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”. For this year, Segura’s role and spot on this team are pretty much set. Let’s enjoy the ride.

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:

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