Segura coming up big at short

PHOENIX -- Milwaukee’s Jean Segura was a revelation in 2013, when he ranked fifth among big league shortstops with a 3.9 WAR and fourth in OPS at the position at .752. The numbers were even more impressive before Segura faded at the plate in August and September.

But Brewers manager Ron Roenicke reserves his most effusive comments for Segura’s work in the field. Although Segura finished the season with a plus-4 runs saved total in the Fielding Bible rankings -- a tick above average -- Roenicke regards him as a whole lot better than that.

"He’s fabulous," Roenicke said. "In the second half, he didn't play as well, whether it was because of injuries or he got worn down or whatever the reason. But defensively this guy can really play. I expect him to be a really good major league defensive shortstop for a long time."

Segura, a native of the Dominican Republic, signed his first professional contract with the Los Angeles Angels at age 16. He spent six years working his way through the minors before the Angels sent him to Milwaukee in a package deal for Zack Greinke at the July 2012 trade deadline. The Angels were set in the middle infield with Erick Aybar at shortstop and Howie Kendrick at second base, and they were willing to part with Segura and pitcher Johnny Hellweg for what turned out to be a total of 13 starts from Greinke.

At 5-10, 204 pounds in the media guide, Segura is shorter and less wiry than the prototypical shortstop, and some scouts thought he would inevitably land at second base. But he takes pride in knowing he’s helping to debunk a stereotype.

"Maybe they’ll change their minds and sign some short guys to play shortstop." Segura said. "It doesn’t matter how tall you are. If you’re a good baseball player and you do the right things, you’re going to be playing for a long time."

This could be an interesting spring for Segura. He’s a candidate to move up from the second spot in the order to leadoff in place of outfielder Norichika Aoki, who was traded to Kansas City in December. The Brewers also plan to have Rickie Weeks and Scooter Gennett compete for the second-base job, so Segura will be working with a couple of double-play partners in the Cactus League.