MILWAUKEE — With pitchers and catchers due to report to spring training on Feb. 13, there’s already plenty of buzz surrounding the upcoming season, after the Milwaukee Brewers ended up just one game away from the World Series in 2018. There’s also buzz surrounding their group of top prospects, anxiously awaiting their time in the major leagues.
“We dream about that moment our whole lives, to win a World Series. Not only that, but to do it with a team that’s never won a World Series? You could write yourself in the history books,” said Jake Gatewood, prospect.
The Brew Crew’s success last season provided plenty of inspiration for those waiting for their moment in the majors.
“It’s always exciting for me to be at a major league ballpark. Being at the ballpark in general is really fun, but the fact that it’s January and I’m in a major league ballpark is really encouraging. It’s a lot of fun,” said Corey Ray, prospect.
For the prospects, it’s a chance to see what they play for, grind for and work toward as minor leaguers, knowing their time might come sooner than later, given the market size of the Milwaukee Brewers.
“It’s definitely encouraging to know that could be us next year as well. Any of these guys here right now,” said Gateway.
Of course, with any sport comes setbacks, including injuries for Gatewood and Mauricio Dubon.
“You know, it’s tough. Injury like this is tough, staying positive and everything. Good thing I have people behind me, my family and everything. Just learning my body, the small stuff I gotta do to prep and the mental aspect. I overcame this. I feel like 0-10, 0-20, it’s like nothing right now,” said Dubon.
“I still smile, thinking about it. That was one of the best feelings I’ve had in a while — to get to swing and it was a line drive straight back to the net. I told them I didn’t need to take any more swings. I’m ready for the season, but it was awesome,” said Gatewood.
After grueling rehab and months without baseball, Dubon and Gatewood said they’re ready to showcase their talents.
“I mean, you always deal with the doubts. This is the first time that I’ve been hurt, so just hearing people, those doubts are always gonna be there. It’s something unfortunate and it takes a while to get back. I hadn’t swung a baseball bat for four, five months before that, so I’ve been playing a lot of video games, MLB the Show, so I’ve been getting mental reps. So you deal with the doubts, but it was really encouraging for that to go well the first time,” said Gatewood.
Then there’s infielders like sixth-ranked Keston Hiura, whose impressive numbers last season created quite the buzz and left many wondering when his time in the majors will come.
“You know for me, this past season, a big reason, goal for me was to play as many games as I can on the field and I was able to do that. Going into fall league, get more innings and reps on the defensive side. That was huge for me. I’m happy with all that progress and being able to stay healthy that whole time. 2018 was a great year, but really looking forward to 2019,” said Hiura.
Whether it’s fan buzz, trade talks or the anxious waiting that comes with the job, the young group is ready for anything.
“It’s encouraging because my mother used to say, ‘if they’re talking about you, you’re doing something right.’ I think that you learn throughout your career, you can’t control any trade talks. You can’t control who’s in the outfield ahead of you and you can’t control when you get up or how long you stay down. Just for the ball to be in my court, I think any athlete would love to be in that position,” said Corey Ray, prospect.