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NL Central Notes: Jonathan Villar performing well for Brewers

Milwaukee's shortstop has exceeded expectations this season, and other happenings around the National League Central.

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers are under .500 and in fourth place in the NL Central, but shortstop Jonathan Villar has been a surprising bright spot for the team.

Acquired from Houston in the offseason for minor league pitcher Cy Sneed, Villar has hit .305 with a major league leading 19 stolen bases.

Once thought of as a utility man placeholder for top prospect Orlando Arcia, Villar is receiving serious consideration for an All-Star nod this year. "I'm playing hard for that," he said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I like to try. My family is happy if I go to the All-Star Game. That would be good."

Villar, 25, has gained the trust of his manager, Craig Counsell, and has taken a firm grasp on lead-off duties for the club.

"The quality of the at-bats has continued. That's the big thing," Counsell said. "The at-bats haven't deviated — the ball-strike recognition, laying off tough pitches — that, to me, is what has been really impressive and has continued day in and day out."

Villar has drawn comparisons to former Brewer Carlos Gomez for his fast-paced, almost reckless style of play. His manager and team are embracing the energy he's bringing to the ballclub, along with the impressive results.

Here's more news surrounding the NL Central:

  • The Pirates faced six left-handed opposing pitchers in an eight game stretch. It's allowed manager Clint Hurdle to experiment some with his lineup, including moving second baseman Josh Harrison to the lead-off spot.
  • A key part of the rebuilding plan for Cincinnati will take place with next week's amateur draft. The Reds have the No. 2 overall pick, along with the top lottery round pick at No. 35 overall. This will give them almost $14 million to work with when signing their draftees, the largest bonus pool in Major League Baseball.
  • The Cardinals already have 10 pinch-hit home runs this season, tying the franchise mark for most in a season. There are 11 major league teams that have yet to hit one pinch-hit home run this year. With over 100 games remaining, St. Louis has plenty of time to extend their club record.
  • The Cubs saw their regular season win streak in games Jake Arrieta started end at 23 on Tuesday night. Despite getting seven scoreless innings from Arrieta, Chicago wasn't able to take advantage of having their ace on the mound and lost to the Dodgers 5-0.