The Rule 5 draft is an opportunity for teams to select potentially blocked prospects and allow them to play. Could the Brewers make a selection this year?
Thursday, December 10th is the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. The Brewers have only taken 3 players in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft since David Stearns took over. In 2015 the Brewers took Colin Walsh and Zack Jones, in 2016, the Brewers took Caleb Smith, who was promptly traded to the Chicago Cubs.
None of the players taken lasted long, with Colin Walsh being the only player who appeared at the Major League level with the Brewers.
Any player who is not on the 40-man roster and meets the age requirements is eligible to be selected. Five years after players are drafted at 18 or younger, they are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. For players who sign at 19 or older, the number is four years.
The selecting team pays the former team $100,000 for the right to that player, and the player selected must remain on the active roster the entire season. Because of this, high level players are typically taken, unless you’re Doug Melvin, and you select Wei-Chung Wang, who had never pitched above Rookie ball when selected.
Kevin Kramer of the Pirates
The Rule 5 Draft is often a chance for fringe major leaguers, or older prospects, to finally get a chance to appear in the Majors. For teams that intend on being competitive, like the Brewers, it can be difficult to commit to an unproven player, however, could Kevin Kramer of the Pittsburgh Pirates be a target for David Stearns come December 10th?
Kramer is 27, and a 2015 second round pick by the Pirates. He is Pittsburgh’s 21st ranked prospect according to MLB.com. Kramer had two stints in the Majors, in both 2018 and 2019, where he appeared at second base, third base, left field, and right field. Kramer did not factor into 2020, as he was recovering from hip surgery. Kramer was outrighted in October.
In 2019, Kramer had a .752 OPS with 10 HR, while playing with the Indianapolis Indians. He struck out in 25.9% of his plate appearances. In 2018, Kramer had an OPS of .856 in AAA with 15 HR in 527 PA.
The real appeal of Kramer is his defensive versatility. While playing with Indianapolis he spent time at first base, second base, shortstop, left field, and right field in 2019, after spending 2018 playing second base and shortstop.
With a 45 overall grade, 45 hit tool, and 50 grade fielding, running, arm strength and power, Kramer does not project to be more than a bench player, but that is what the Brewers could use. After Jace Peterson was non-tendered, the right-handed Mark Mathias is currently the de facto utility player on the 40-man roster. Kramer is a left handed hitter, which David Stearns has shown an affinity for.
In a typical offseason, it is unlikely that the Brewers would make a selection in the Rule 5 Draft, however, David Stearns may approach this year differently and view it as a way to add cheap bench depth. If that’s the case, Kevin Kramer is worth a look.
The Rule 5 Draft marks the end of the Winter Meetings, which will be completely virtual this year.