Yadiel Rivera, SS, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 23 — 2015 Levels: AA Biloxi (SOU), AAA Colorado Springs (PCL), Milwaukee Brewers (MLB)
Rivera’s .340/.426/.511 AFL line is not to be expected from the historically light-hitting, slick-fielding shortstop. While Rivera might struggle finding everyday playing time in the rebuilding Brewers’ infield down the road with Jean Segura, Scooter Gennett, and potentially Orlando Arcia all present, Rivera showed me the type of standout defensive capacity to be the type of player that has a job at the AAA or “ML bench” level for as long as he can stay at shortstop.
Rivera showed impressive defensive tools all night, even though he threw a ball away. He made a great charge and bare-hand play to close an inning throwing across his body, and showed very quick natural footwork, always having his throwing base set seemingly before he fielded the ball. His throwing error was on a hurry-up play that probably would have gone for an infield single anyway — it was Rivera’s quick footwork to get the ball across the infield that even made it a close play. Rivera’s smooth, silky actions and above-average body control looked MLB-ready.
Rivera’s hitting tools are far lesser than his line in the AFL, and he’s carried well below-average K/BB ratios and rates as well. He swings at a lot of pitches without much offensive impact, and has always basically struck out in about 20% or more of his plate appearances. He has a very thin-boned and frail frame, which caused me to wonder how he handles velocity with a wooden bat. I can’t see Rivera developing into a guy who can play everyday shortstop regardless of his defensive ability, because I just don’t think there’s a lot of evidence he’ll hit enough — but I can see a utility infielder who can provide defensive help in a pinch.
Now on to some pitchers for the West squad…