The 2020 Rule 5 Draft is approaching and the Brewers have a number of players eligible.
The Brewers farm system is not exactly brimming over with talent that other teams are desperate to get their hands on.
In an event such as the Rule 5 Draft, the Brewers might be more likely to select players, at least in the minor league portion of the event, than they are to see many of their own players get taken. The Brewers opted to protect Mario Feliciano, Alec Bettinger, and Dylan File this year.
As a reminder of the rules of the Rule 5 Draft, any player that meets the service time requirements that isn’t on the 40 man roster is eligible to be selected in the big league portion of the Draft. Any minor league player that meets the service time requirements that isn’t on the Triple-A roster is eligible to be selected in the minor league portion of the Draft.
Any player that’s eligible for the minor league portion of the Draft is eligible for the big league portion, but not all players who are eligible for the big league portion is eligible for the minor league rounds.
Let’s take a look at the players eligible in the Minor League rounds of the Rule 5 Draft
Minor League Rule 5 Draft Eligible Brewers Players
Highest minor league level reached in parentheses
- OF Jamie Westbrook (Triple-A)
- RHP Luke Barker (Triple-A)
- RHP Bubba Derby (Triple-A)
- LHP Nathan Kirby(High-A)
- RHP Alec Kenilvort (High-A)
The most notable name on this list is Luke Barker. Barker was a key bullpen arm for several Brewers affiliates over the past few years. Barker logged 20 saves in 23 opportunities with a 2.21 ERA for the Carolina Mudcats in 2018. In 2019, Barker posted a miniscule 1.34 ERA across Double-A and Triple-A covering 60.1 IP.
There was a chance the Brewers could’ve protected him on the 40 man roster, but he didn’t make the cut there and isn’t listed on the most recent Triple-A roster, which is either a glaring oversight or the Brewers are willing to lose Barker in the minor league portion of the Draft. The Triple-A roster does still show Ryon Healy, who is long gone, but also has new signee Zach Green on it.
The Brewers dropped Bubba Derby from their Triple-A roster to Double-A to make him eligible for the minor league portion of the draft this winter. Derby was a part of that Khris Davis trade that didn’t work out for Milwaukee and he’s still yet to make his major league debut.
Nathan Kirby was a Comp A round pick in 2015 and was a highly regarded pitcher coming out of the University of Virginia. Injuries have derailed his career and he’s only pitched in two seasons, 2015 before his injury and 2018. Kirby has a ton of talent but has completely missed the 2016, 2017, and 2019 seasons. It’s unclear if he would’ve played had there been a 2020 minor league season.
This list was going to be a lot longer, but due to the pandemic and the shrinking of the minor leagues, most of those players who would’ve been eligible have already been released and are free agents.
Major League Portion Eligibles
Highest minor league level reached in parentheses
- RHP Freisis Adames (Low-A)
- RHP Zack Brown (Triple-A)
- LHP Cody Beckman (High-A)
- RHP Matt Hardy (High-A)
- RHP Bowden Francis (Double-A)
- RHP Robbie Hitt (High-A)
- RHP Thomas Jankins (Triple-A)
- RHP Miguel Sanchez (Triple-A)
- LHP Quintin Torres-Costa (Triple-A)
- RHP Braden Webb (Double-A)
- C Payton Henry (High-A)
- C Brent Diaz (Low-A)
- 2B Yeison Coca (Low-A)
- 3B Lucas Erceg (Triple-A)
- 3B Gabriel Garcia (Low-A)
- 3B Weston Wilson (Double-A)
- SS Antonio Pinero (Low-A)
- OF Chad Spanberger (Double-A)
- 1B Ryan Aguilar (Double-A)
- OF Pablo Abreu (Low-A)
- OF Cooper Hummel (Double-A)
A large chunk of these players, while eligible, are no threats to be selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Most are too far down in the development pipeline for any major league to take the risk of selecting them. If selected in the major league portion, the player has to remain on the selecting team’s 26 man active roster for the entire season to be kept.
So unless there’s a GM looking to take a flier like Doug Melvin did on Wei-Chung Wang, which backfired horribly by the way, most of these guys are staying put.
The players with the biggest risk of getting selected are the top prospects, namely Zack Brown and Payton Henry. This is Brown’s second year being left eligible and the Brewers are hoping that because there was no minor league season and other teams didn’t get a chance to see him this year, they won’t risk selecting him. It’s a gamble, however.
Henry hasn’t played above High-A but was likely to reach Double-A if there was a 2020 minor league season. The Brewers are banking on a team not willing to risk carrying a catcher on their big league roster for the entire season who hasn’t advanced beyond High-A yet.
Lucas Erceg has reached Triple-A and could make the jump to the big leagues if his bat had shown any promise. His hit tool has mysteriously disappeared since reaching Double-A and beyond. Perhaps another team desperate at corner infield could try him but if he can’t even garner a roster spot with the Brewers’ own desperate situation at third base, it’s unlikely.
Quintin Torres-Costa is another interesting player. He had a 1.31 ERA in 55 IP across Double-A and Triple-A in 2018 before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He made a few appearances in 2019 on rehab before that season ended and then was primed for a bounceback opportunity in 2020. Without the 2020 season to prove he’s back healthy, it’ll be tough for other teams to take the chance, but he can be a solid big league bullpen piece if healthy.
The 2020 Rule 5 Draft is Thursday, December 10th. These are the players that the Brewers could potentially lose to other teams.