Milwaukee Brewers: A detailed look at the team’s Rule 5 Draft history

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 27: Wei-Chung Wang /

Reviewing the Brew already looked into some pitchers and hitters the Milwaukee Brewers may pursue in the Rule 5 draft this week. Now, it’s time to take a look back at the team’s history in the mid-Winter draft.

The Rule 5 draft is an opportunity for teams to pluck hidden gems directly off the roster of other teams. Of course, it comes with the caveat that the selected players must stay on the Major League roster all season if the team wants to retain them, but it can certainly pay dividends. The Milwaukee Brewers have done their fair share of work in the Major League portion of the draft over the years. As such, it’s time to look back to how the team’s picks have fared following their Rule 5 selection.

2016: Caleb Smith, LHP

Caleb Smith’s tenure with the Brewers lasted less than a day, as he was traded to the Cubs shortly after the Rule 5 draft. He failed to crack the Opening Day roster with Chicago though, so they sent him back to the Yankees. The southpaw did manage to make his Major League debut last season, but he struggled mightily. Smith produced a 7.71 ERA in 18 2/3 innings pitched. He now resides in the Marlins organization after a trade in November.

2015: Colin Walsh, INF and Zack Jones, RHP

Both of these players carried a decent amount of promise heading into the season, but failed to stick. Colin Walsh’s biggest calling card was his knack for getting on base. However, even a 23.8 percent walk rate wasn’t enough to overcome a 34.9 percent strikeout rate and a horrific .085 batting average in 63 plate appearances. Zack Jones opened eyes with gaudy strikeout numbers throughout his career, but a major shoulder injury hindered him in 2017. Ultimately, the Milwaukee Brewers sent him back to the Twins.

2013: Wei-chung Wang, LHP

Wei-chung Wang is the most recent example of a player sticking with the club all season. His numbers in the majors that season were awful to say the least. He allowed 21 earned runs and six homers in 17 1/3 innings. But a shoulder injury put him on the disabled list for much of the season. The Brewers were able to manipulate this DL stint to keep him on the roster all season, so he still resides in the organization. Wang has developed into a solid reliever and could see time in Milwaukee this season.

2010: Pat Egan, RHP

The Brewers scooped up Pat Egan after he struggled in 2010. However, a stellar 2009 season in which he produced a 2.43 ERA across three levels gave the club hope that he was the real deal. Nonetheless, he failed to break camp with the Big League club out of spring training. He returned to the Orioles shortly thereafter. Egan’s success ended there, as he never managed to make it to the Majors in seven seasons. Adding insult to injury, George Kontos, Scott Diamond and Michael Martinez were all taken with later picks.

2009: Chuck Lofgren, LHP

Chuck Lofgren managed to be one of the top 50 prospects in the game according to Baseball Prospectus in 2007, but a tough 2008 campaign lowered his stock enough to put him into Rule 5 jeopardy. The Brewers were able to snag him as a result, although they didn’t keep him on the MLB roster. Instead, they traded another player back to the Indians to retain the rights to Lofgren. He wound up never making it to the Big Leagues and last appeared in an independent league.

2008: Eddie Morlan, RHP

Eddie Morlan had excellent strikeout numbers early in his career, but control wasn’t exactly his strong suit. The Brewers decided to take a chance on the Cuban right-hander, but they returned him to the Rays during spring training. He actually played a bit for the Brewers’ Double-A affiliate the following season, but he never made it past that level in the pros.

2006: Ed Campusano, LHP

The Dominican southpaw caught the Brewers’ eye thanks to a 1.46 ERA and 13.2 K/9 in the Cubs’ organization. However, he wouldn’t actually see the mound in Milwaukee, as he was quickly shipped to Detroit for cash considerations. Ed Campusano ended up being returned to the Cubs following the 2007 season and finished his career in independent ball. It’s a shame he didn’t pan out like other Rule 5 picks from 2006 like Joakim Soria and Josh Hamilton.

2004: Marcos Carvajal, RHP

Marcos Carvajal was another case of high strikeouts/low control. The Milwaukee Brewers scooped him up on the heels of a 1.80 ERA between two lower levels of the minors. However, Milwaukee sold his rights to the Rockies before the season started. The Venezuelan actually managed to stay in the Majors all season. He even logged some time in the Big Leagues in 2007 with the Marlins. His career 5.21 ERA in 57 innings pitched is nothing to call home about, though. Too bad the Brewers took him over Shane Victorino in this one…

2003: Jeff Bennett, RHP

Before Wang, it was Jeff Bennett who held the title of most recent Rule 5 pick to stick with the Milwaukee Brewers. Oddly enough, he was one of five Pirates taken in the first six picks of that year’s Rule 5 draft, with the most notable of the bunch being Jose Bautista. The Tennessee native produced decent numbers in the Pirates’ farm system the year before. However, it was his control and his proximity to the Majors that made him most appealing. He put up a mediocre 4.79 ERA in 60 relief appearances in 2004. Unfortunately for him, he ended up becoming a free agent after toiling in Triple-A for all of 2005.  He spent some more time in the majors with the Braves and Rays in subsequent years, though. Nonetheless, he ended up playing independent ball for many of his later playing years.

2002: Enrique Cruz, INF & Matt Ford, LHP

Given the Brewers’ struggles in the early 2000s, it comes as no surprise that they nabbed two Rule 5 players. Enrique Cruz was the club’s top pick, and he managed to stay in the Big Leagues despite a .085 batting average. He remained in the organization for another two years before being traded to the Rangers in exchange for Brian Shouse. Matt Ford was yet another high strikeout pitcher, but his K’s didn’t come with him to the Big Leagues. Although he stayed in Milwaukee all season, he never pitched in the Majors again. He wound up finishing his career in an independent league after amassing a 4.33 ERA in his one year with the Brewers.

2001: Jorge Sosa, RHP & Ryan Christenson, OF

Sadly for the Milwaukee Brewers, their first Rule 5 pick in 2001 was claimed off waivers before he could even pitch an inning in Milwaukee. Jorge Sosa was grabbed by Tampa Bay, where he began his solid nine-year career. A career ERA of 4.72 and an awful strikeout-to-walk ratio don’t make him seem like much of a loss, but a nine-year career is still noteworthy. Ryan Christenson, on the other hand, was an interesting case. He already had four years of Big League service under his belt heading into the draft.

This is likely why the Brewers grabbed him, as his career .222 batting average shows that his talent didn’t exactly translate to the Majors all that well. However, he has one postseason hit to his credit from the 2000 ALDS when he was with the Athletics. That’s more than many other people can say.

1999: Matt Williams, LHP

No, not that Matt Williams. This Matt Williams spent eight seasons in the Minors before being selected by the Brewers. His time in Milwaukee wasn’t very fruitful, either. A 7.00 ERA and 13 walks across nine innings pitched had him sent back to the Mets in early May. One noteworthy name taken before him in the draft did wind up spending time in a Brewers uniform. Remember Derrick Turnbow? The Angels took him just two picks earlier. However, the real prize of this Rule 5 draft was a young southpaw named Johan Santana.

Next: Five hitters you need to know for the Rule 5 Draft

All in all, it seems the Milwaukee Brewers haven’t had much success in the Rule 5 draft. Many of their picks either stink in the Majors or just get sent back to their original teams. Nonetheless, there’s almost always a Dan Uggla or Joakim Soria in each Rule 5 draft, so it’s worth holding out hope for 2017 to be the year Milwaukee gets it right.