With the free agency period officially underway and the many players across the league becoming free agents, the Brewers current 40 man roster stands at 36 players.
With the Rule 5 Draft roughly one month away, let’s take a look at which players could be added to the Brewers 40 man roster in order to be protected.
What is the Rule 5 Draft and who is all eligible?
The Rule 5 Draft is set for December 10, 2020 and provides clubs the chance to acquire minor league players who have been in other team’s system in general from 2016 or earlier if drafted out of high school and 2017 or earlier if drafted from college if they are not on their current clubs 40 man roster.
The catch, of course, is that if a team drafts a player, they must immediately be added to the 26 man active roster and remain there for the entire 2021 season.
Of the Brewers top 30 prospects, those eligible if not added to the 40 man roster prior to the draft are: Mario Feliciano, Zack Brown, Payon Henry, Alec Bettinger, Dylan File, and Lucas Erceg. Of note, Trey Supak was designated for assignment during the 2020 season and as a result is currently a free agent.
The players listed above can be protected from the draft by being added to the 40 man roster prior to the draft. Of the six players who are eligible two are catchers, three are starting pitchers, and one is a corner infielder.
Will the Brewers Protect Any of These Players?
When looking at the two catchers, Feliciano and Henry, I think one of them likely is added to the 40 man roster.
The Brewers currently have four catchers in: Pina, Narvaez, Nottingham, and Freitas. The futures of Pina and Narvaez in Brewer uniforms is still yet to be decided, Nottingham showed great defensive ability and subpar offense in a limited sample size this year, and Freitas failed to make an appearance.
Given this, I think it is reasonable to assume that one of Feliciano or Henry will be added for protection sake. Feliciano is currently the #4 ranked prospect in the Brewers system and is a much more advanced hitter than Henry. In this situation, I give the advantage to Feliciano.
Of the starting pitchers, Brown, Bettinger, and File, it may be a toss up. Brown, the #14 ranked prospect, was left unprotected last season due to a very poor season. Some in the Brewers organization have admitted to being very impressed with what he showed at the alternative training site this season, but the odds of this swaying another teams decision to draft him seem very slim.
Bettinger and File, on the other hand, enjoyed tremendous 2019 seasons. With no minor league season it was obviously very disappointing to not see them perform in 2020, but that may also help them go under the radar if the Brewers decide to leave them unprotected.
Lastly, there is Lucas Erceg. A once prized prospect in the Brewers organization has battled injuries and poor offensive performances of late in his minor league career. Of the players eligible, I think he is the player fans need to worry the least about being drafted by another ballclub.
Speculating about minor league players is always fun but with no 2020 season to use for up to date analysis, that is much harder this season.
This will likely have an impact on the Rule 5 draft this December, but if I were the Brewers I would make sure Feliciano is protected given his offensive ability at the position he plays.