Top prospect Brice Turang makes the Brewers opening day roster and it 'doesn't seem real' yet for the former first-round pick

PHOENIX – Brice Turang has joined rare air.

It hasn’t been often in Milwaukee Brewers franchise history that a top prospect has made an opening day roster. Turang has done just that.

Manager Craig Counsell informed the slick-fielding infielder he will be on the big-league roster Thursday in Chicago.

"It just doesn’t feel real," Turang said. "I had no words for it. I was just lost for words. It doesn’t feel real."

Brice Turang's father was also drafted by the Brewers

Turang, a first-round draft pick by the Brewers in 2018, is the team’s No. 4 prospect according to the Journal Sentinel. He spent the 2022 season at Class AAA Nashville, finishing with a .286 batting average, .360 on-base percentage and .412 slugging percentage, as well as newfound power that resulted in 13 homers and 24 doubles.

The first call Turang made was to his parents. His father, Brian, was a big-leaguer with the Mariners for two seasons in the 1990s after he was initially drafted by the Brewers in 1987 but didn't sign. Turang's mind has often gone to what it would be like to follow his dad's footsteps in the majors. Last year in Triple-A, it was a particularly common thought.

"Your whole life, that’s your goal so that’s all you look forward to and of course you look at it and (wonder), 'What is it like? What is it gonna be like?'" Turang said. "All that stuff. But now I got the news and it’s gonna be a reality. It’s time to keep going."

Infielder Brice Turang, the Brewers' No. 4 prospect as ranked by the Journal Sentinel, spent the entire 2022 season at Class AAA Nashville.
Infielder Brice Turang, the Brewers' No. 4 prospect as ranked by the Journal Sentinel, spent the entire 2022 season at Class AAA Nashville.

Turang's defensive skills were a factor in him making the Brewers opening day roster

Turang’s primary calling card is his defense, and he can play all over the infield. Internally, Brewers personnel rave about Turang's defense, saying he's the type of player you grow an appreciation for the more you watch him in person. That's exactly what stood out to Counsell this spring.

"This has been true with Brice for a long time," Counsell said. "Brice helps you win in a lot of different ways. I think a lot of times when you get a player, it's like, 'Oh, what are his offensive numbers?' I was so impressed with how Brice plays defense, and I think he can make a huge impact. I think he's an exceptional defender at second base.

"I think he's just really good, and he showed us this camp that he is going to win games playing defense. There's not necessarily a number by it as much, but I think he's going to do that. That was one of the things to me that really stood out and I think helped him make the team, frankly, on my end."

Craig Counsell says Turang will play mostly second base but could fill in at shortstop

His primary defensive position with the Brewers will be second base, at least to begin. The only left-handed bat on the team who can play all over the infield, Turang will see his name in the lineup plenty.

"He's gonna play second base," Counsell said. "He could fill in for (shortstop) Willy (Adames), for sure, but I don't see him playing a lot of third base. We have a number of guys who can play third base.

"We're going to put out the best lineup to win games. But he's certainly going to play a lot."

Though it’s possible outfielder Joey Wiemer could join him in this company, Turang becomes Milwaukee’s first top-10 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline to make the opening day roster since the site started publishing prospect rankings in 2011.

The last Brewers player to make his big-league debut as an opening day starter was J.J. Hardy in 2005.

Fredonia native Owen Miller makes the Brewers roster

Owen Miller will get to suit up for the team he grew up rooting for.

A native of Fredonia and graduate of Ozaukee High School, Miller entered this spring with two minor-league options and having to battle for a spot on the opening day roster.

Miller earned a spot not only with hit bat -- he is batting .385 with a .916 OPS this spring -- but by learning center field, an entirely new position for him. The Brewers will likely need him to play some outfield, too, with Mitchell the only other player on the roster who can man center field.

"Owen had a great spring," Counsell said. "Owen swung the bat, aside from Mike Brosseau, as well as anybody this spring. And he did well defensively, so we’re going to give him a try and see what happens."

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Brewers add infield prospect Brice Turang to opening day roster