With the Rule 5 Draft coming and going in a matter of an hour, there was plenty of early morning buzz for Brewers fans. Here is the recap of what had gone down:
Probably the most unfortunate piece of news from the draft came in the loss of RHP Miguel Diaz, as he was selected first overall by the Minnesota Twins. Shortly after, the San Diego Padres acquired him via trade. Formerly coming in at #21 on the Brewers prospect list (per MLB Pipeline), Diaz is a right-handed swingman who played in Low-A Wisconsin last season. He’s best known for his 3/4 arm action plus fastball, which sits in the mid-90’s with late movement. As secondary pitches, he throws an average slider that flashes solid lateral movement and a work-in-progress changeup. This season also marked the first time his elbow injuries did not hinder his abilities, as he tossed 94 innings with a 3.71 ERA and an 8.7 K/9 (2.8 BB/9). The biggest question aside from the elbow history is the overall uncertainty of what he could become. Most critics believe he is destined to the bullpen – where his hard fastball and horizontal slider could work the best. However, the Crew attempted to stretch him out further, and the attempt proved to bear some interesting fruit. As a whole, he posted much better numbers when he started (65.1 IP, 3.31 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 3.81 SO/BB) compared to coming in relief (29.1, 4.60, 1.53, 2.31).
The common question that is associated with Rule 5 picks is usually whether or not they will stick with their drafted team. Since he has been selected, he must stay on the active roster for the entire season – something that could prove incredibly difficult for a player that has only seen Low-A competition. However, his flexibility could be beneficial to him, as he could either start or relieve. Before the trade, Diaz may have only been looked at to be a back-end relief option for the Twins – something similar to what was anticipated for RHP Zack Jones last season. As we’ve seen over the years, these players usually don’t stay long with a team, whether it’s due to poor play or better options out in free agency or on waivers. However, the trade to San Diego could be an important hitch in that philosophy. Similar to last year, GM A.J. Preller appears to stockpile talent in the draft, seen in his seven total acquisitions since last year’s draft (three this season). The team is sorely in-need of some starting depth, so Diaz may have more chances to both start and relieve in a rebuilding situation. This is similar to one of their Rule 5 players last season, RHP Luis Perdomo, as he stuck with the Padres through the season and began posting solid numbers for them down the stretch. Though Perdomo was much further along in his progression, Diaz will have a long leash and plenty of chances as he experiences the big leagues for the first time.
However, there is a silver lining to the selection of Diaz for us fans, as well as for the organization. Though we are also in a rebuilding situation, Diaz was a casualty of a team with too many prospects to hold on to. Even if they had one final spot on the 40-man roster for an extra player, there was some serious worry that a number of other players would get drafted in the Rule 5 draft ahead of him. Even though the Crew decided to take a prospective hit by giving him up, it’s quite telling of the true amount of young talent we have accrued over the last couple of seasons.
Aside from Miguel Diaz, the Brewers also lost OF Elvis Rubio to the Detroit Tigers in the second round of the Triple-A phase. In this phase, teams ultimately gain the full rights to players without having any restrictions on them. Rubio will now be a part of their organization for good, leaving the team he signed with back in 2011. He hit .223/.270/.568 slash line with 7 home runs and 46 RBI split between Low-A Wisconsin and High-A Brevard County.
But despite the losses, the Brewers did make a number of selections in the draft. The first came in LHP Caleb Smith, formerly of the New York Yankees. Soon after, he was dealt to the Chicago Cubs for either a Player To Be Named Later or cash.
In the later rounds, the Brewers did select two players in the Triple-A phase: 1B Art Charles and RHP Matt Ramsey.
Slugging 1B Art Charles spent this season in an independent league (Canadian-American Association) after being released by the Phillies back in March. Rated as Baseball America’s second-best independent league prospect, he slugged his way to a triple crown by hitting .352/.461/.699 with 29 home runs and 101 RBI’s (436 plate appearances). He last played professionally at the Double-A level, hitting .215/.304/.367 in just 329 plate appearances. Known mostly for his power, the 6’6″ 230-pound left-handed hitter will have a chance to prove his possible improvements to his contact and strikeout rates.
Despite having a lower-back injury that sidelined him all of 2015, RHP Matt Ramsey posted solid numbers making a return to Double-A ball. The 26 year-old reliever posted a 1.99 ERA in 22.2 total innings split between rookie league, High-A, and Double-A. Perhaps what was most enticing to Stearns was his 29 strikeouts to 9 total walks throughout the season – giving him an 11.5 K/9 and 3.22 K/BB. Standing at 5’11, Ramsey owns a repertoire that consists of a low-90’s fastball paired with a decent breaking ball and changeup.