On December 10, 2015, the Milwaukee Brewers claimed Colin Walsh in the Rule 5 Draft. For those of you who don’t know what the Rule 5 draft is and which players are eligible, the Rule 5 Draft is one of two drafts each year. The First-Year Player Draft in June is for high school and college amateur players. To be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, you need to be a player who signed with a team when you were at the age of 19 or older and have been playing pro ball for four years and haven’t been placed on the 40 man roster. Also, players who signed when they were 18 and have been playing pro ball for five years and haven’t been put on the 40 man roster are eligible, too. Once a team selects a player that player must remain on the 25 man roster the entire season. If at any point the player doesn’t stay on the 25 man roster he must be offered back to his old team.
Colin Walsh, 26, was in the Athletics organization when the Brewers selected him. Walsh is a switch-hitting second baseman who can also play third base and left the field. In AA last year, Walsh hit 13 home runs with a slash line of .302/.447/.470. He even stole 17 bases. What is most impressive about Walsh is his ability to get on base and walk. Obviously, his .447 OBP is as good as it gets, but so is his 25% walk rate.
If Colin Walsh makes the 25 man roster this year, down the road, I could see him potentially becoming a Ben Zobrist type player. Zobrist was 25 in 2006 when Tampa Bay promoted him to the big leagues. He went up and down between the major & minor leagues in 2006 and 2007 before finally sticking and making an impact for Tampa and their 2008 World Series run. In 388 at-bats between AA & AAA in 2006, Zobrist had a slash line of .323/.428/.456 with a walk rate of 17%. Over 300 of those at-bats came in AA. As you can see, these minor league stats between Walsh and Zobrist are very similar.
I am not saying Walsh will be as good as Zobrist. However, given their similar stats, age at which they made/will make their major league debuts and their positional versatility (Walsh is versatile, but may not be quite as versatile as Zobrist) the comparison seems somewhat reasonable.
Walsh doesn’t have a lot of experience in AAA so there will no doubt be an adjustment for him if he is in the majors in 2016. Given that the Brewers are rebuilding and are not expected to compete in 2016, this is the perfect season for Counsell & Co. to see what they have in Walsh and give him a spot on the team so they won’t lose him to the A’s. Fans may not realize it now, but the Brewers have a solid player on their hands right now in Walsh.