Brewers: Which Prospects Should Be Protected from the 2022 Rule 5 Draft?

Milwaukee Brewers v Oakland Athletics
Milwaukee Brewers v Oakland Athletics / Rob Leiter/GettyImages

The 2022-23 Milwaukee Brewers offseason is officially in full swing. And MLB's next offseason deadline is right around the corner.

One of the first deadlines has already passed, which was the last day to make decisions about players with contract options for 2023. In the Brewers' case, they decided to pick up the option on second baseman Kolten Wong while they declined the one on reliever Brad Boxberger.

In a few days, the next big offseason deadline will be here, which is the deadline to add Rule 5 Draft eligible players to the 40-man roster. Not doing so leaves them exposed to the draft and risks the chance of losing them from the organization to another team.

The Brewers have a number of prospects who are eligible for this year's Rule 5 Draft, some of which make more sense to protect than others. Let's take a look at which ones actually have a chance at being added to the team's 40-man roster next week.

Which Brewers prospects should be protected from the Rule 5 Draft?

Lock: SS Brice Turang

2018 21st overall pick and No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, shortstop Brice Turang, is as much of a lock of a Rule 5 eligible prospect to be protected as the Brewers have had in years. So much so that there's a good chance that he makes the 2023 Opening Day roster as well.

Turang has had no less than a .348 OBP for a single minor league season. Last year, he slashed .286/.360/.412 in his first full season in Triple-A, had a career high 13 homers and 78 RBIs, and led the organization with a career high 34 stolen bases. He's ready for the majors and will be added to the roster.

Near locks: RHP Abner Uribe, RHP Cam Robinson

The next two are as close to locks as can be, just not as much of a sure thing as Turang. No. 26 prospect Abner Uribe burst on to the Brewers prospect scene in 2021 as an extreme fireballer that needed to reign in the control, putting up a whopping 13.9 K/9 but also a 6.7 BB/9. Prior to last season, manager Craig Counsell even pointed him out as a pitcher who could compete at the major league level sooner than many would expect.

Uribe unfortunately ended up missing most of the 2022 season due to a knee injury but is currently taking part in his second Arizona Fall League and was named a Fall-Star this year. He appears to be back on track and is close enough to contributing that he should be added to the 40-man.

No. 27 prospect Cam Robinson took a huge step last season after a solid 2021, lighting up High-A and Double-A to the tune of a 1.69 and 1.23 ERA, respectively as well as 25 combined saves. He touched Triple-A toward the end of the season, making 11 appearances, so he is close to major league ready as well. That could be close enough for a 40-man add.

Warrant consideration: RHP Victor Castaneda, SS Cam Devanney, SS Eduardo Garcia, RHP Lucas Erceg

No. 30 prospect Victor Castaneda has been relatively solid in his time as a Brewers minor leaguer but hasn't had a season ERA below 4.00. Still, with the Brewers needing starting pitching depth and Castaneda being somewhat close to the majors having made six appearances at Triple-A, it's an add worth considering as another team might want to pluck him from the organization.

Cam Devanney had one of the top minor league seasons in the organization, slashing .264/.342/.492 with 23 homers and 68 RBIs between Double-A and Triple-A. He would also be a candidate to be poached by another team, but with the Brewers already having Willy Adames and (likely) Turang on the 40-man, would they want to add yet another shortstop to the roster?

Having only maxed out at the High-A level so far, you wouldn't think many teams would select No. 21 prospect Eduardo Garcia, considering any player selected in the Rule 5 Draft has to be added to the selecting team's 26-man roster for the year. But he is a highly-regarded prospect that the Brewers would not like to lose, so protecting him is at least worth a thought.

One dark horse candidate to be added is now-pitcher Lucas Erceg. The former third baseman turned pitcher was re-signed to minor league contract with an invite to spring training late in October after the 2022 season ended. He has a strong arm and finished the season well at Triple-A Nashville, posting a 3.43 ERA in 33 appearances. Considering how quickly they got him back in the fold, you wouldn't think the team would want to turn around and lose him in the Rule 5 Draft.

Unlikely to be added: INF Felix Valerio, OF Carlos Rodriguez, OF Joe Gray Jr

After an impressive 2021 that resulted in him being added to the team's top 30 prospects list, No. 14 prospect Felix Valerio struggled at Double-A last season, slashing just .228/.313/.357 in 113 games. He's probably not ready enough for the majors for a team to want to select him.

Carlos Rodriguez has had two straight solid seasons at High-A Wisconsin but like Garcia is also not close to major league ready. Joe Gray Jr followed up an impressive 2021 season with a disappointing 2022 in which he hit just .193. He also hasn't progressed past High-A yet.

The Brewers currently have five open 40-man spots to work with. It would be surprising if three to four of them aren't filled by some of these Rule 5 eligible prospects.

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