The Milwaukee Brewers, for the first time since 2015, have made a selection in the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
The selection they made was right-handed pitcher Gus Varland of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. He will have to remain on the 26 man roster for the entire season for the Brewers to retain him.
The Brewers luckily did not lose any players in the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft despite leaving some players eligible that had chances of being selected.
Who is new Brewers pitcher Gus Varland?
Gus Varland, 26, has been in Double-A Tulsa each of the past two years. His ERA numbers are ugly with a 5.71 ERA in 2021 and a 6.11 ERA in 2022. However, he had much better numbers out of the bullpen and was moved there full-time in 2022.
Varland was a 14th round pick by the Oakland A's in 2018 out of Concordia-St Paul University. He was traded to the Dodgers in February 2021 along with 3B Sheldon Neuse in exchange for LHP Adam Kolarek and OF Cody Thomas.
The big thing that stands out about Varland is his velocity. He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and regular runs it up to the upper 90s on the radar gun, topping out at 98 MPH. His slider went from a low-mid 80s pitch to an upper-80s offering and his fastball went from 93-94 to mid-upper 90s after he moved from the rotation to the bullpen.
Over his final 14 games out of the bullpen this year, Varland had a 3.44 ERA with 31 strikeouts and 5 walks over 18.1 IP.
He has two big league quality pitches in his fastball and slider. The Brewers obviously see a lot that they like in his profile and feel he could fit into their bullpen in 2023.
Milwaukee has been looking to push some young arms to the big league bullpen because of the velocity they have. Abner Uribe was added the 40 man roster a few weeks ago to protect him from this Rule 5 Draft because of his triple-digit fastball.
Varland was the third player selected from the Dodgers minor leagues in the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft.
This is the first time the Brewers have made a selection in the Rule 5 Draft since David Stearns' first offseason at the helm. Milwaukee hasn't had a Rule 5 pick stick around all season since Wei-Chung Wang in 2014, and that pick turned out to be a disaster. But Wang didn't have any experience above Low-A when the Brewers selected him, which was the primary reason why he was a disaster. Varland, meanwhile, has spent the last two years at Double-A and is much closer to being big league ready.