Versatility lands Prince in big leagues

Josh Prince was the Triple-A Nashville Sounds’ starting center fielder on Opening Day and the starting shortstop on Day 2. The Brewers envisioned him developing over time into a super-utility player, a’la the Dodgers’ Jerry Hairston Jr.

That project will have to continue in the Major Leagues, because on Day 3, Prince was in Milwaukee.

The Brewers promoted the 25-year-old on Saturday to replace third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left knee.

“With ‘Ramie’ out and uncertainly on [left fielder Ryan Braun, sidelined by a stiff neck], we needed somebody who could cover you both ways,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said.

Prince fit that bill. He was originally a shortstop but was moved last season to the Double-A Huntsville outfield. A scorching-hot Arizona Fall League (Prince batted .404 with 14 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 25 games) earned him a spot on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster.

When he was optioned to Nashville in March, the Brewers talked to Prince about playing all over — second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions.

“It’s being in the right place at the right time,” Prince said of his unexpected promotion. “I’m a very religious guy, so I believe everything happens for a reason.”

He welcomed the comparison to Hairston, who played a big role in the Brewers’ 2011 postseason run and has played for nine different teams in parts of 16 Major League seasons.

“He definitely has come up. He’s a guy who has done it for 15, 16 years, and has done a great job at it,” Prince said. “Being able to play the infield and play the outfield, especially in the National League, it pretty valuable.”

A year ago, Prince was not considered a big-time prospect. On Saturday, at Miller Park for the first time since a pre-Draft workout in 2009, he was a Major Leaguer.

“I’m still pretty speechless,” he said. “I’m trying to stay even-keeled, not try to get too many ups or too many downs. Just enjoy the moment.”

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