A few years ago, Jordan Brewer was a promising two-sport prospect with hopes of becoming a D1 wide receiver. For a time, it looked like that may well have been in the cards for him, but shoulder injuries derailed his football career, prompting a change of course. He decided to take his talents to Lincoln Trail JC, where he starred on the diamond for two years and earned an offer from the University of Michigan, which he enthusiastically accepted, having grown up in the state. Brewer was able to carry his significant JUCO momentum into Big 10 play and beyond, quickly becoming one of the best players on a Wolverines squad that eventually earned a berth in the College World Series final. All told, Brewer hit .329/.389/.557 in maize and blue, tallying 12 homers and 25 steals with a 56/24 K/BB ratio in 270 PAs.
The stellar season earned Brewer conference newcomer of the year honors and draft rankings in the back end of the top 100 from most outlets. That was in line with his eventual draft position- he was selected by the Astros at 106th overall, and signed for $500k. While it could be argued that Brewer might’ve been able to boost his stock further with his remaining college eligibility given his ample tools, his age made that proposition a very risky one as he was already just two months shy of his 22nd birthday on draft day. Brewer took awhile to get to work in pro ball and only ended up getting into a total of 16 games, all with short season Tri-City, during the 2019 MiLB campaign.
A player like Brewer presents some interesting developmental challenges. His calling card is his athleticism, which translates beautifully to the diamond. Even with a filled out 6’1”, 195 lbs. frame, Brewer is fast, both underway and in a short area, with most scouts giving him a 70 run grade. The speed is an asset both in the outfield and on the bases- Brewer shows impressive baserunning technique for a player with fewer high level baseball reps than most of his peers. While he needs a little more defensive polish, his defense projects as above average in center field, where his plus arm will also be an asset.
In addition to his defensive tools, Brewer has some solid power in his frame, which translated to games at the college level. The one factor that prevented Brewer and his explosive tools from being a day 1 draft pick, as you might guess at this point, is the hit tool. Brewer obviously has some feel for contact, given how well he handled high level college ball, but he’ll need work to be an offensive contributor at the pro level. His swing offers ample bat speed, but it’s a big motion with less than ideal length, which becomes more of an obstacle as he faces better and better velocity. He’s also pretty aggressive at the plate, and would be well served by greater selectivity. In his brief pro debut, Brewer hit just .130/.161/.185 in 56 plate appearances. While he only struck out six times, his contact was all of the glancing variety, with the exception of one home run, and he walked just twice.
Obviously, it’s important not to overreact to such a small sample, particularly one during which Brewer wasn’t entirely healthy, but the line evidences the areas that need the most going forward. Given his age (he’ll turn 23 this August), Brewer won’t have as much time to work out these kinks as the Astros might hope. His best path to offensive output may be adopting a fairly passive approach, emphasizing power and walks while stomaching some strikeouts. Given the rough edges and advanced age, it’s hard to imagine Brewer developing into a plus hitter, but he may be able to develop an approach that can take advantage of his power and speed and keep him in the lineup.
In an Astros farm system that has become awfully light on position player talent of late, Brewer is one of the more exciting names with potential to ascend. He’s expected to open the 2020 campaign with Low-A Quad Cities with the hope that he can earn a High-A assignment by season’s end. If all goes according to plan, he could crack the upper minors in 2021 with 2022 looking like the most likely big league ETA, his age 24/25 season. With the ability to impact the game in all facets, he’s highly recommended viewing for Astros minor league fans during the upcoming season.