Less than one month removed from the last pitch of the World Series being thrown, the MLB offseason is approaching one of its early offseason milestones on November 20th at 5:00pm CT. The Brewers will have some tough decisions to make.
As a reminder, the Rule 5 draft provides opposing clubs the chance to acquire minor league players who have been in other teams’ systems. Not all minor league players are Rule 5 draft eligible, but in order to protect their eligible players, the Brewers will need to add those players to their 40 man roster by the deadline listed above.
Of the Brewers top 30 prospects, those eligible to be drafted if not added to the 40 man roster by the November 20th deadline are: Mario Feliciano, Zack Brown, Payton Henry, Alec Bettinger, Dylan File, Lucas Erceg, and Pablo Abreu. Of note, Trey Supak was designated for assignment during the 2020 season and as a result is currently a free agent.
Outside of the top 30 prospects, players like Chad Spanberger, Luke Barker, and Quintin Torres-Costa are all draft eligible as well. The Brewers 40 man roster currently sits at 36 players. I do not expect that all four of these spots will be filled for protection purposes, but rather I see two prospects being added.
Projected Brewers Roster Additions
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.
Feliciano is currently the #4 ranked prospect in the Brewers system and is an advanced hitter. The Brewers certainly love their toolsy hitters and Feliciano is one of them. With a 50 grade hit tool and 55 power grade, Feliciano most recently displayed these abilities during the 2019 minor league season when he hit 19 home runs and drove in 81 runs while batting .270.
Had there been a minor league season in 2020 Feliciano likely would have began the year in Biloxi. Instead he spent his summer at the Brewers alternative training site, which means he got extended development time versus advanced pitching that he had yet to see in his minor league seasons.
With offense being Feliciano’s calling card, I would find it foolish for the Brewers to leave him unprotected for offensive oriented catchers are generally more hard to come across. If Feliciano is added to the 40 man roster, I don’t think this reveals what the Brewers think of Omar Narvaez or Manny Pina, but rather it may be the end of David Freitas on the roster.
Bettinger was drafted in the 10th round during the 2017 MLB draft as a long reliever from Virginia. The Brewers elected to send him out as a starter in the minor leagues in which he struggled to find his footing in his first few seasons, but showed flashes of potential.
At Biloxi in 2019 he finally put it all together as he was among the South Leagues best pitchers for he finished second in innings pitched (146.1), second in WHIP (1.07), second in strikeouts (157), four in opponent average against (.223) and sixth in ERA (3.44).
His fastball velocity also increased to sitting in the low-to-mid 90s. He possesses two breaking pitches, a curveball and slider, as well as a changeup. His slider is described more as a cutter that complements his fastball really well given his crossfire arm action.
Scouts believe he won’t project out to be more than a No. 5 starter in a rotation, but his above average control and command with increased velocity is certainly intriguing. For a team that has found success acquiring and developing young pitchers recently, I certainly hope Bettinger gets the promotion to the 40 man roster by the deadline.
In 2019 the Brewers added prospects Corey Ray and J.P. Feyereisen to the 40 man roster at this time. It will be fun and interesting to monitor whom they add this year especially given the fact that there was no minor league season.