The second-highest ranked catching prospect for the Brewers was left exposed to the Rule 5 draft earlier this month.
On November 20th, teams across the league had the opportunity to protect certain potential future contributors from being snatched by other teams by adding them to the 40-man roster. For the Brewers, that meant adding three such minor leaguers to their roster.
Catcher Mario Feliciano as well as right-handed pitchers Alec Bettinger and Dylan File were the three players to be added to the 40-man by Milwaukee that day. Of course that meant other players who were potentially worthy of being added would be left exposed to the Rule 5 draft.
Now that those decisions have been made by the Brewers, as well as other teams across the league, it leaves the question of which players hold the possibility of being selected by other teams in the Rule 5 draft. Earlier this week, MLB.com took a look at the an intriguing candidate from each team who is eligible for the draft.
For the Brewers, their choice was No. 15 prospect (per MLB Pipeline), catcher Payton Henry. The 2016 6th-rounder had an off chance of being protected from the Rule 5 draft along with the other three, but in the end was left exposed.
What’s the word on Payton Henry?
Catcher was once a position of need in the Brewers farm system before players like Henry and Feliciano, among other recent acquisitions, started to make a name for themselves. While Milwaukee chose to only add Feliciano to the 40-man this offseason, the MLB.com piece had this to say about Henry.
"Henry and Mario Feliciano operated as a catcher-designated hitter tandem at Class A Advanced Carolina in 2019, combining for 33 homers and 156 RBIs in the Carolina League. Milwaukee opted to protect only Feliciano, its No. 4 prospect, but some evaluators believe Henry is the better defender, with right-handed power that plays to the big parts of the ballpark."
Henry and the aforementioned Feliciano were on similar paths up through the minors before the latter separated himself, mostly on account of his bat, a bit with a late-season promotion to Double-A Biloxi in 2019. But that doesn’t mean that Henry hasn’t been able to hold his own, offensively.
Henry slashed .242/.315/.395 in 121 games at High-A Carolina back in 2019 and was second to Feliciano with his 14 home runs and 75 runs batted in. The Brewers saw enough from that season where it resulted in Henry being one of the handful of players invited to the alternate training site in 2020.
Could Henry end up getting selected in the Rule 5 draft?
For those who are unfamiliar, any player who is selected by another team in the Rule 5 draft must be added to the receiving team’s 26-man roster. Thus, teams need to be absolutely sure that anyone they take is ready to get their licks in at the major league level.
Yes, Henry and Feliciano were trending similarly back in 2019. But it’s likely that the Brewers think they can gamble that Henry is just early enough in his development where another team won’t be comfortable committing one of their valuable 26-man spots to him.
Still, it’s not impossible that a team without a clear catcher of the future could take a chance on him and just speed up his development by way of big league at bats. But it’s more likely that Milwaukee’s gamble ends up paying off and Henry stays in the organization after the Rule 5 draft.
This season’s MLB Rule 5 draft takes place on Thursday, December 10th. Check back as we look at additional eligible Rule 5 draftees for the Brewers.