On November 20 of last year, a deadline came on the MLB calendar. Which Rule 5 eligible players would be added to their franchise’s 40-man rosters, thereby protecting them from being plucked in said Rule 5 Draft.
Sometimes guys get added out of left field, metaphorically speaking, while other players are shoo-ins.
Today’s subject for Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers is one of the latter. Plus defense, emergence at the plate, and what appears from far away to be a big league makeup equated to a 40-man spot for…
A native of Puerto Rico, Yadiel Rivera was drafted by the Brewers as an 18-year-old out of Manuela Toro High School in Caguas. He has excelled defensively throughout his professional career, with some even saying that his defense is Major League ready (and has been for over a year). Unfortunately, there’s precious little room for defense-only players in the big leagues these days. You need to provide something with the bat in most cases just to be a bench player.
Rivera came over to the states right away after being drafted and only hit .209 in the Arizona rookie league. And despite his 6’2″ frame, he’s still listed at just 175 pounds. He can add strength if he chooses, but staying lean and smooth seems to be the focus for the young shortstop, at least for now. Rivera has never slugged even .400 for an entire season, but the fact that he did so (.410) in his 183 at-bats at Class-AA Huntsville to finish the 2014 season is nice to see.
Rivera will likely start 2015 back at the Double-A level, though with a new fan base and in a new city as the Brewers affiliate is moving operations from Huntsville, Alabama to the gulf coast in Biloxi, Mississippi. Fortunately, the diamond is still 90 square feet so all the throws remain the same. And if his bat continues to mature from the .258/.309/.374 combined line Rivera posted in 2014 between Double-A and High-A, Rivera could cement his place in the organization with an eye on the future.
That said, there’s a top prospect named Orlando Arcia nipping at his heels. They can’t both play shortstop for the Brewers at the end of the day. That could be why Rivera played 28 games at second base for Class-A Advanced Brevard County last year before his promotion.
Keep an eye on Rivera’s progress, but on that of Arcia as well as the developmental staff makes decisions on who plays where and for whom.