Next week, MLB's Rule 5 draft will take place during the league's winter meetings. With it will be a chance for some minor leaguers to earn themselves a spot on another team's active roster for the 2024 season.
For those unfamiliar with the Rule 5 draft, minor league players who are selected are required to be carried on the selecting team's active roster for the following season (with some IL exceptions). If a team chooses to release a selected player, they must be offered back to the player's original organization.
Fans may remember a recent Rule 5 selection of the Milwaukee Brewers, relief pitcher Gus Varland, who was selected in last offseason's draft. He made it through eight appearances in 2023 before he was designated for assignment and returned to the Dodgers.
Teams had the chance to protect eligible prospects from the draft by adding them to the 40-man roster earlier this month, which the Brewers did with two prospects. And while Milwaukee doesn't have glaringly obvious candidates to be selected in next week's draft, there are a couple players on which teams could be willing to take a risk.
Here are two Brewers prospects who could be selected in next week's Rule 5 draft.
1. RHP Evan McKendry
Starting pitcher Evan McKendry was acquired by the Brewers last August in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that sent out catcher Alex Jackson. He was originally a 9th round pick of the Rays back in the 2019 draft out of the University of Miami in Florida.
McKendry hit the Triple-A level for the first time in 2022 and then pitched there all season in 2023, both with the Rays and Brewers organization. For his entire minor league career, he is 20-15 with 3.75 ERA and 1.099 WHIP. His career Triple-A ERA isn't too terribly far off of that average at 4.27.
The fact that McKendry is already on the doorstep of the majors is what makes him probably the most likely candidate, if any, to be selected from the Brewers in the Rule 5 draft. The only question is whether a team wants to make a full season committment.
2. SS Freddy Zamora
When the Brewers selected Varland last offseason, he hadn't pitched above the Double-A level. Should another team decide to take a similar risk with a Milwaukee prospect, one player they could go after is shortstop Freddy Zamora.
Zamora was on track to be a first round pick before an ACL injury in college dropped him to the Brewers in the 2nd round of the shortened 2020 draft. His last two seasons have been at the Double-A level after another injury caused him to miss all but 24 games in 2022.
Zamora has a generally solid career slash line in the minors at .269/.366/.378. He also is a very gifted defender, a quality that many teams can use at the shortstop position. While Double-A players don't commonly get selected in the Rule 5 draft, the Brewers showed that it isn't impossible.