Brewers prospect to watch #5: RHP Gus Varland
The Brewers made their first Rule 5 Draft selection in several years when they plucked Gus Varland from the Dodgers organization in December. Milwaukee needs to keep him on the big league roster for the entire season or else they will have to return him to the Dodgers. He's fighting for a spot in a crowded bullpen picture.
There are plenty of bullpen spots up for grabs this spring. Departed are mainstays Brent Suter and Brad Boxberger, as well as Taylor Rogers, Trevor Gott, Justin Topa, and Jandel Gustave. While there are several new faces to help replace them, few spots are set in stone.
Milwaukee added several relievers who have big league experience, giving them a leg up over someone like Varland who is fighting to make his MLB debut. But if Varland performs well in camp, he could very easily earn a spot on the roster and force the Brewers to want to keep him around.
There is no return to Triple-A and maybe he'll be ready for a big league job in a month or two with Varland. Spring training is all he has to prove himself worthy of a roster spot this year. That makes every outing count. Every time he steps on the mound, fans should keep a close eye on how he does. If he goes back to the Dodgers, he may not get a chance to crack the big league club given how deep that organization is.
The bullpen battles will be fascinating to watch and there is no reliever with more urgency to perform well in spring than Gus Varland.