Category: Prospects

2016 Organizational Opening Day Rosters

What follows are the announced rosters for the parent club Milwaukee Brewers as well as each of the full-season minor-league affiliates of the same, broken down by position group.

Milwaukee Brewers
MLB Parent Club (Twitter: @Brewers)

Manager: Craig Counsell

25 Total Players (excluding disabled list)

Pitchers (12)

Catchers (2)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (5)

Disabled List (5)

SkySoxPrimary

Class-AAA Affiliate (Twitter: @skysox)

Manager: Rick Sweet

28 Total Players

Pitchers (14)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (5)

BiloxiShuckersOnWhite

Class-AA Affiliate (Twitter: @BiloxiShuckers)

Manager: Mike Guerrero

28 Total Players

Pitchers (14)

Catchers (4)

Infielders (7)

Outfielders (4)

BC Manatees

Class-A Advanced Affiliate (Twitter: @BCManatees)

Manager: Joe Ayrault

28 Total Players

Pitchers (14)

Catchers (2)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (4)

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Class-A Affiliate (Twitter: @TimberRattlers)

Manager: Matt Erickson

28 Total Players

Pitchers (14)

Catchers (3)

Infielders (6)

Outfielders (5)

Brewers Make Several Roster Decisions

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Through a series of tweets by beat writers Adam McCalvy (MLB.com), Tom Haudricourt & Todd Rosiak (Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel), several decisions which directly impact the 25-man roster of the Milwaukee Brewers were disseminated from Spring Training on Sunday morning.

With an opt-out decision looming today, first and foremost relief pitcher Blaine Boyer was told that he has made the 25-man roster. The move will eventually require a corresponding 40-man roster move as Boyer was in camp on a Minor League contract, but there are a handful of 60-day DL candidates so finding a spot (or two or three) won’t be difficult.

The other player who got the best news was OF/1B Ramon Flores who was also told he’ll make the 25-man roster. Flores was acquired this off-season in trade from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for infielder Luis Sardiñas in a swap of players who were likely to be waived by their original clubs. Flores had a strong Cactus League and also showed a little versatility in being able to potentially backup Chris Carter at first base.

As there are ultimately so few spots, many more players get the proverbial red ticket in their locker.

Among those informed that they’ll begin the regular season in the minors are catchers Josmil Pinto and Manny Piña who were told they’ll be in Triple-A. Catcher Adam Weisenburger will apparently join them, giving Colorado Springs a trio of backstops.

Will Middlebrooks was informed today that he’ll also be assigned to Triple-A after vying for a spot as a backup corner infielder. Once there he is expected to rotate at the corner infield positions with Andy Wilkins and Garin Cecchini.

Joining them in the high-altitude infield will be Jake Elmore who was hoping to make the big league team as a reserve but came up short.

In the outfield competition, Eric Young Jr. was told that he’ll also head to the Centennial State when camp breaks. He’ll be joined officially by Shane Peterson who, after passing through waivers earlier this winter, was also in camp on a minor-league deal.

And finally, one official optioning came down as reliever David Goforth was sent out. Even with all the injuries to the bullpen recently, Goforth having minor league options was likely a key factor as others in the running for just a couple of spots had less team control due to no options or contract opt-outs like Boyer.

All told, this leaves the following combination of players in camp:

  • Yadiel Rivera, Rule 5 Colin Walsh, and non-roster invitee Hernan Perez are competing for what is likely two open infield jobs.
  • Keon Broxton (options remaining), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (no options), and Alex Presley (NRI) competing for likely two backup outfield spots.
  • Chris Capuano (opt-out), Franklin Morales (opt-out), Ariel Peña (no options), Tyler Cravy (options remaining) are in play for two bullpen jobs

Brewers 30 Clubs/30 Days Video Clips

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These are the archived videos aired on MLB Network on March 4th as Greg Amsinger and Milwaukee’s all-time Saves leader Dan Plesac visited Brewers’ camp at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, Arizona as a part of the Network’s “30 Clubs in 30 Days” series previewing the 2016 season.

GM David Stearns sits down with Amsinger & Plesac

Ryan Braun talks about his bounce back 2015 and looking ahead to 2016

Jimmy Nelson with Dan Plesac

Domingo Santana talks about his fresh start

Will Smith on the bullpen

Ryan Braun demos base running/stealing with Plesac

Chris Carter talks to Greg Amsinger

Lucroy talks 2016 with Amsinger

Matt Garza talks youth and rotation with Plesac

Counsell with Plesac

Brewers Prospects with Jonathan Mayo

Brewers Fan Vote

Brewers Predictions

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’16 – #47 Adrian Houser

BBtJN Logo

Sorry for the extreme delay due to real world responsibilities. Let’s ride.

This article should have been posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 because that day was 47 days away from Opening Day and we should have profiled…

Adrian Houser.

HouserBBtJN

Standing 6’4″ and listed at 230 pounds, Adrian D. Houser has a prototypical “pitcher’s frame.” As a former 2nd round draft pick by the Houston Astros out of Locust Grove High School in Oklahoma, Adrian Houser has a prospect profile. After making his MLB debut on September 26, 2015 at the tender age of 22, Adrian Houser is just scratching the surface but is starting to fulfill a lot of people’s dreams on him including his own.

As the “RHP Adrian Houser too” of the Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers to Houston trade last year, there was some wonder what kind of player the Brewers had received in Houser. After all, in his seven games at Double-A Corpus Christi before the trade, Houser scuffled to a 6.21 ERA allowed 39 hits and 15 walks in 33.1 innings pitched.

Well all he did in 37.0 IP for the playoff bound Biloxi Shuckers was post a 2.92 ERA. He allowed 33 hits but only walked six. The difference in BB/9 between the relatively similar sample sizes? An untenable 4.0 in Corpus Christi against a superb 1.5 in Biloxi. That was a big factor in his success.

Houser earned himself a late, post-playoffs September call-up to the Brewers. He got into two games, throwing an inning in each. He gave up a total of one hit and two walks but nary a run did cross on his watch.

For 2016, Houser won’t be beginning the season in Milwaukee. He’s got some maturing to still do in the minors. That taste of the big leagues was a success though and it should push his confidence along in the correct direction while at the same time making him hungrier to get back.

I expect Houser to start and there’s room for him in the Colorado Springs rotation but after just 70.1 innings at Double-A it wouldn’t shock me, nor would I consider it a setback, should Houser begin the year back in Biloxi.

Catch up on BBtJN ’16:

Official Release: Brewers Trade With Oakland

The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired catcher Jacob Nottingham and right-handed pitcher Bubba Derby from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for outfielder Khris Davis. Following this trade, the Brewers’ 40-man roster stands at 39. The announcement was made by General Manager David Stearns.

“In Jacob Nottingham, we are acquiring one of the premier catching prospects in baseball,” said Stearns. “Jacob has an advanced feel for hitting and has demonstrated consistent power throughout his minor-league career.”

Nottingham, who turns 21 on April 3, has been invited to Major League camp as a non-roster player. He is a career .284 hitter with 23 HR and 130 RBI in 211 games at the Rookie and Class-A levels (2013-15).

Originally selected by Houston in the sixth round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, Nottingham was dealt to Oakland this past July 23 as part of a trade for left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir. In 2015, he batted a combined .316 with 33 doubles, 17 HR and 82 RBI in 119 games between Class-A Quad Cities (Houston), Class-A Lancaster (Houston) and Class-A Stockton (Oakland). He was named to both the Midwest League’s midseason and postseason All-Star teams while at Quad Cities.

“In acquiring Bubba Derby, we continue to add to our prospect pitching depth,” said Stearns. “In his first professional season, Bubba had one of the best performances of any lower-level pitcher. We are excited to add him and Jacob to our organization.”

Bowdien “Bubba” Derby, who turns 22 on February 24, went 1-1 with a sterling 1.21 ERA in 14 games (10 starts) during his first professional season between the Rookie Arizona Athletics (2gs) and Class-A Vermont (12g/8gs). He held opponents to a .183 batting average with 47 strikeouts in just 37.1 innings.

Davis, 28, batted .250 with 60 HR and 162 RBI in 321 career games with the Brewers (2013-15), including .247 with 27 HR and 66 RBI in 121 games last season. He was selected by Milwaukee in the seventh round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

Prior to today’s trade, David Stearns already acquired a number of highly-regarded prospects during his first offseason as general manager of the Brewers, including 2015 Pioneer League Most Valuable Player – shortstop Isan Diaz (Jean Segura trade), infielder Javier Betancourt (Francisco Rodriguez trade), right-handed pitcher Trey Supak (Jason Rogers trade) and right-handed pitchers Daniel Missaki, Carlos Herrera and Freddy Peralta (Adam Lind trade).

Broken News: Segura, Wagner Traded To Arizona

The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired right-handed pitcher Chase Anderson, infielder Aaron Hill, shortstop Isan Diaz and cash from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for shortstop Jean Segura and right-handed pitcher Tyler Wagner. The announcement was made by General Manager David Stearns.

“In Chase Anderson and Aaron Hill, we are adding two proven Major League contributors who will impact our team this year,” said Stearns.

“Chase is a young starting pitcher who has already enjoyed success at the Major League level. Aaron has a long history of production and positional versatility. In addition, we are excited to be able to add Isan Diaz to our growing supply of high upside minor-league talent.”

Anderson, 28, owns a career Major League record of 15-13 with a 4.18 ERA in 48 starts, including 6-6 with a 4.30 ERA in 27 starts for the Diamondbacks last season. He was selected by Arizona in the ninth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft and tied the Mets’ Jacob deGrom for the most wins by a National League rookie in 2014 (21gs, 9-7, 4.01era).

Hill, 33, is a veteran of 11 seasons in the Major Leagues with Toronto (2005-11) and Arizona (2011-15). The two-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2009, 2012) and former American League All-Star (2009) is a career .268 hitter with 151 HR, 650 RBI and 70 stolen bases in 1,400 games (116g, .230, 6hr, 39rbi in 2015). Throughout his career, the versatile Hill has started games at second base (1,148), third base (72), shortstop (61) and designated hitter (39).

Some of Hill’s best work at the plate has come at Miller Park, where he owns a batting average of .429 (18-for-42) with 4 HR and 11 RBI in 10 career games. Hill hit for the cycle against the Brewers on June 29, 2012 at Miller Park, his first game at this venue.

Diaz, 19, completed his second professional season in 2015 as he batted .360 with 13 HR, 51 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 68 games at Rookie Missoula. He earned Pioneer League Most Valuable Player honors as he led the league in doubles (25), slugging percentage (.640), total bases (174) and extra-base hits (44) while ranking among the top five in the circuit in hits (2nd, 98), runs (2nd, 58), home runs (T2nd), batting average (3rd), RBI (3rd), on-base percentage (3rd, .436) and triples (T5th, 6).

Segura, 25, batted .266 with 23 HR, 144 RBI and 96 stolen bases in four seasons with the Brewers (2012-15). A National League All-Star in 2013, he batted .257 with 6 HR, 50 RBI and 25 stolen bases in 142 games last season.

Wagner, 25, was selected by Milwaukee in the fourth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. He made his Major League debut last season as he started three games for the Brewers (his first coming on May 31 vs. Arizona), going 0-2 with a 7.24 ERA. Wagner owns a career record in the minor leagues of 35-23 with a 2.95 ERA in 91 games, including 88 starts.

Brewers On Deck Attendees Announced

OnDeck2016

List is subject to change but here’s the original list as released by the Brewers.

Players:

  • Orlando Arcia (canceled 1/30 due to illness)
  • Jacob Barnes
  • Yhonathan Barrios
  • Michael Blazek
  • Ryan Braun
  • Keon Broxton
  • Chris Carter
  • Garin Cecchini
  • Trent Clark
  • Clint Coulter
  • Tyler Cravy (canceled 1/30 due to illness)
  • Zach Davies
  • Ramon Flores
  • Matt Garza (added 1/20)
  • Scooter Gennett (removed 1/26 due a conflict)
  • David Goforth
  • Junior Guerra
  • Josh Hader
  • Adrian Houser
  • Jeremy Jeffress
  • Taylor Jungmann
  • Corey Knebel
  • Jorge Lopez
  • Damien Magnifico (canceled on 1/29 due to illness)
  • Martin Maldonado
  • Jimmy Nelson
  • Shane Peterson
  • Brett Phillips
  • Michael Reed
  • Domingo Santana
  • Will Smith
  • Tyler Thornburg
  • Jonathan Villar (added 1/20)
  • Tyler Wagner (traded to ARI 1/30)
  • Colin Walsh

Coaches/Manager

  • Craig Counsell
  • Darnell Coles
  • Joe Crawford
  • Derek Johnson
  • Marcus Hanel
  • Jason Lane
  • Pat Murphy
  • Ed Sedar
  • Carlos Subero
  • Lee Tunnell
  • Matt Erickson (Timber Rattlers manager)

Alumni

  • Don August
  • Jerry Augustine
  • Jeff Cirillo (added 1/21)
  • Rollie Fingers
  • Jim Gantner
  • Larry Hisle
  • Davey Nelson
  • Ken Sanders (added 1/20)
  • Gorman Thomas
  • Greg Vaughn
  • Paul Wagner (added 1/20)
  • Robin Yount (canceled 1/22 due to personal conflict)

*UPDATE*

Here is some additional information from the official release about Brewers On Deck:

Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children 14 and under.  Tickets on the day of the event are $20 for adults and $15 for children 14 and under.  On the day event, cash is the only accepted form of payment for admittance. A portion of the proceeds from Brewers On Deck will benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Tickets may be purchased at the Miller Park ticket office by calling the Brewers ticket office at (414) 902-4000 or online at Brewers.com/ondeck through Friday, January 29.

Once again, food donations will be accepted through Hunger Task Force.  Donations can be dropped off at two main entrances to the Wisconsin Center, located at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, and 4th Street and Wells Street.

Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family.  Autographs and photos from Brewers players, coaches and alumni; interactive games in the Kids Area; Q&A sessions and Klement’s Main Stage game shows with Brewers players, coaches and broadcasters; vendor booths with baseball memorabilia; Brewers Community Foundation’s Treasure Hunt, a 50/50 raffle, live auction and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.

During the event, the Brewers will unveil a new book – Explore MKE: Your Neighborhood Our City. The Book is published by SHARP Literacy, Inc. and is sponsored by Brewers Community Foundation and Ryan Braun.  It tells the story of two children who share their differing experiences of Milwaukee and are attempting to figure out how they fit in.  It also features informational sections that weave together iconic Milwaukee institutions and neighborhood-based landmarks with important themes in common.

SHARP Literacy, Inc. is a non-profit organization that enhances future life success by energizing urban children and motivating them to identify themselves as confident, capable scholars and lifelong learners by inspiring engagement in reading, writing and research through hands on interaction and visual arts.

Details regarding autographs include the following:  Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced at a later date) will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan in attendance will receive one Premier Entry sheet which may be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside the Main Exhibit Hall of the Wisconsin Center.  The Premier Entry sheet will be exchanged for a numbered coupon to be entered into the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players.  Coupon distribution will be available at 8 a.m. the day of the event and will continue up to an hour before each designated autograph session.   There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding winning coupons must pay $25 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature.  There will be 250 winners for each of the autograph sessions.  The winning ticket numbers will be posted at the designated autograph stage no less than 30 minutes prior to each player’s session.

Players and staff not included in the PREMIER autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted later.  The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team.  For additional information, visit Brewers.com/ondeck.

Autograph proceeds benefit Brewers Community Foundation.  Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs. The Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player.

Brewers Acquire Cecchini & Rule 5 Recap

GarinCecchini

Garin Cecchini

The Milwaukee Brewers selected four players in today’s Rule 5 Draft at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.  The team selected two players in the Major League phase.  The Brewers did not lose a player in the Rule 5 Draft.

In addition, the team acquired 3B/OF Garin Cecchini from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for cash considerations.  The announcement was made by General Manager David Stearns.

Cecchini, 24, spent most of the 2015 season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he batted .213 with 7 HR and 28 RBI in 117 games. The left-handed batter spent time defensively in left field, first base and third base at Pawtucket.  Cecchini, who made his Major League debut with Boston in 2014, appeared in two games with the Red Sox in 2015.  He has batted .229 (8-for-35) with 1 HR and 4 RBI in 13 career Major League games, including seven starts at third base.  Cecchini was designated for assignment by Boston on December 4, 2015.

Cecchini (pronounced “chick-KEE-nee”) was selected by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.  Over five minor-league seasons, Cecchini owns a .279 batting average with 28 HR and 231 RBI in 510 games.  He was an All-Star in each of his first three seasons in the minors (New York-Penn League with Class-A Lowell in 2011; South Atlantic League with Class-A Greenville in 2012 and Carolina League with Class-A Salem in 2013).  He participated in the 2013 MLB All-Star Futures Game for the U.S. Team at Citi Field.

ColinWalsh

Colin Walsh

Second baseman Colin Walsh was selected in the first round (fifth overall) of the Major League phase off the Triple-A Nashville roster of the Oakland Athletics. Walsh, 26, batted .302 with 39 doubles, 13 HR, 49 RBI and 124 walks in 134 games at Double-A Midland in 2015.  Walsh, a switch hitter, played at Stanford University and was originally selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round of the 2010 First-Year Draft. He signed as a minor-league free agent with Oakland on April 10, 2014.

 

 

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Zack Jones

 

 

Right-handed pitcher Zack Jones was selected in the second round of the Major League phase off the Triple-A Rochester of the Minnesota Twins. Jones, 25, went 5-4 with a 4.18 ERA in 45 relief appearances between Class-A Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga this past season. Jones played at San Jose State and was originally drafted by Minnesota in the fourth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

 

 

Mitch Lambson

Mitch Lambson

Left-handed pitcher Mitch Lambson was selected in the first round of the Triple-A phase off the Double-A Mississippi roster of the Atlanta Braves. Lambson, 25, appeared with four teams between the Houston Astros organization and the Braves organization in 2015. He compiled a 3-2 record with a 2.35 ERA in 40 relief appearances between Double-A Corpus Christi, Triple-A Fresno, Triple-A Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi in 2015. He was traded from the Astros to the Braves organization on July 6, 2015.  In five minor-league seasons, Lambson owns a 20-14 record with a 2.72 ERA in 166 relief appearances. He was originally selected by the Astros in the 19th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

 

 

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Kender Villegas

Right-handed pitcher Kender Villegas was selected in the second round of the Triple-A phase off the Double-A Springfield roster of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Villegas, 22, appeared in 30 games (1 start) and compiled a 3-4 record with a 4.03 ERA across three levels in the Cardinals organization (Class-A Palm Beach, Class-A Peoria and Class-A State College in 2015).  He was originally signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as a non-drafted free-agent on May 13, 2010.

The Brewers’ 40-man roster currently stands at 37 with the additions of Cecchini, Jones and Walsh.

Breaking News: Brewers Trade Lind

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OFFICIAL RELEASE

The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired right-handed pitchers Daniel Missaki, Carlos Herrera and Freddy Peralta from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for first baseman Adam Lind. The announcement was made by General Manager David Stearns at Major League Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings in Nashville, TN.

“We are excited to add three young starting pitchers, all under 20 years old, to our minor-league system,” said Stearns. “All three possess quality arms with an advanced feel for the strike zone. We wish Adam well and appreciate his contributions to the 2015 Brewers.”

Missaki, 19, went 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA in six starts at Class-A Clinton in 2015. He walked only five batters in 34.1 innings pitched while producing 34 strikeouts. Opponents batted .244. His season was cut short as he underwent “Tommy John” surgery on his right elbow in May. Originally signed by Seattle as a non-drafted free agent on May 6, 2013, Missaki owns a career record of 7-6 with a 3.40 ERA in 24 games, including 20 starts, with opponents batting .236. He has recorded 111 strikeouts in just 106.0 innings pitched while issuing only 26 walks over his three seasons in the minor leagues.

Missaki, who was born in Japan before moving to Brazil as a young child, participated in the 2013 World Baseball Classic for Team Brazil, appearing in
one game (0.1ip on March 5 vs. China). At 16 years old, he was the youngest player in the tournament that year.

Herrera, 18, spent his first professional season in the Dominican Summer League and went 4-2 with a 3.26 ERA in 14 starts. He limited opponents to a .228 batting average with 13 walks and 73 strikeouts in 80.0 innings pitched. He posted a 1.85 ERA over his final five starts of the season, going 2-1. Herrera was signed by Seattle as a non-drafted free agent on July 21, 2014.

Peralta, 19, went 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA in 11 games (9 starts) with the Rookie Arizona Mariners in 2015. He walked only eight batters in 57.0 innings pitched while producing 67 strikeouts (second in the Arizona League). Opponents batted .242. Originally signed by Seattle as a non-drafted free agent on April 18, 2013, Peralta has gone 6-12 with a 3.58 ERA in 36 games (31 starts) over three minor-league seasons. He has held opponents to a .239 batting average with 47 walks and 158 strikeouts in 163.1 innings pitched.

Lind, 32, batted .277 with 20 HR and 87 RBI in 149 games during his only season with the Brewers. He made 135 starts (134g at 1B, 1g at DH). Lind was acquired by Milwaukee on November 1, 2014 in exchange for right-handed pitcher Marco Estrada. He is a career .274 hitter with 166 HR and 606 RBI in 1,102 games with Toronto (2006-14) and Milwaukee (2015).

Rule 5 Draft Protection Deadline

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The deadline for protecting players from Rule 5 Draft eligibility by way of adding them to the 40-man roster is Friday, November 20. Brewers GM David Stearns told reporters on Thursday that he was still considering who to protect. This post is to call out the list of those who require protection and to give my opinions on who they need to add.

After acquiring Jonathan Villar from the Houston Astros via trade on Thursday, the 40-man roster stood at 35 and therefore has five open spots.

This is a slimmed down list as upkept by Jim Goulart over at Brewerfan.net. (View his original and the discussion thread here.)

Current AAA Players —

RHP Hiram Burgos
RHP Jaye Chapman
OF Ben Guez
RHP Jim Miller
IF Hernan Perez
RHP Austin Ross
LHP Brent Suter
LHP Wei-Chung Wang

Current AA Players —

SS Orlando Arcia
RHP Jacob Barnes
C Parker Berberet
LHP Jed Bradley
RHP Drew Gagnon
RHP Brooks Hall
3B Brandon Macias
RHP Damien Magnifico
RHP Jorge Ortega
1B Nick Ramirez
OF Victor Roache
2B Nick Shaw
RHP Martin Viramontes
C Adam Weisenburger

Current A-Level (or below) players —

RHP Yomelbin Almonte
3B Taylor Brennan
UT Francisco Castillo
RHP Zach Cooper
C Paul Eshleman
RHP Preston Gainey
RHP Milton Gomez
C Dustin Houle
OF Anderson Jesus
3B/OF Sthervin Matos
2B Chris McFarland
C Natanael Mejia
C Rafael Neda
LHP Luis Ortega
1B Juan Ortiz
OF Jose Pena
IF/OF Yerison Pena
LHP Stephen Peterson
RHP Junior Rincon
RHP Gian Rizzo
OF Elvis Rubio
RHP Orlando Torrez
RHP Angel Ventura

*italics indicates players who are Rule 5 eligible for the first time

First and foremost, there is no easier choice for Rule 5 protection this year than SS Orlando Arcia. Widely considered the Brewers best prospect, it would be foolish to not protect the young man. That gives us four spots to play with.

The Brewers don’t announce at which level they protect players, but there is a 38-man Triple-A reserve roster for any unprotected players. The names on that list are the ones eligible for selection in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Any player selected during the MLB portion of the draft must be kept on the selecting team’s 25-man roster for minimum time constraints the next MLB season or be offered back to said player’s original ballclub.

A recent example of how that works is Wei-Chung Wang back in 2014. The Pirates protected Wang on the Triple-A reserve roster despite his never having pitched above High-A ball. The Brewers dealt with his obvious lack of experience that season for the ability to continue his development in the minor leagues the following year. Now, most players taken are much closer to MLB-ready and can somewhat hold their own. Wang was an exception to that side of the coin.

Let’s get back to the topic at hand though and discuss which players I think the Brewers need to protect for fear of losing their talents.

I’ve already mentioned Arcia. I look next to the Arizona Fall League, a sort of finishing school for prospects on the cusp. Damien Magnifico has flourished in that league and needs protection, in my opinion. Relief pitchers tend to be the most easily plucked since it’s easier to “hide” them if they are struggling to adjust. I think what he’s shown this entire regular season as a reliever for Double-A Biloxi coupled with his strong AFL play has garnered him attention to the point where he’d end up elsewhere if the Brewers left him unprotected.

Next, despite his early career struggles making consistent contact, I think that power is such a premium skill these days that outfielder Victor Roache could get protected. The Brewers invested highly in him following a broken wrist suffered in college and I think they owe it to themselves to see if Roache’s gains at the plate in 2015 are long-term gains. Granted, Stearns wasn’t around back then so he may evaluate Roache differently, and the Brewers do have a lot of outfield prospects coming, but there is at least room for Roache now. That said, a jump from Double-A to MLB, even as a bench bat with pop — might be analyzed as too great to think that anyone would take the risk. I’d rather not take the chance, but I’m not a part of Stearns’ front office.

Back to the pitching side of things, there are a quartet of names that I think warrant consideration. That said, given my earlier choices I’m limited to picking just two more if all things remain the same. The players are Jacob Barnes, Jorge Ortega, Brent Suter, and Wei-Chung Wang.

Wang and Suter are left-handed and it’s been quite some time since the Brewers developed a southpaw, especially into the rotation. Wang has already been invested in, but again that’s by the previous regime. That said, he absolutely took off mid-season following being designated for assignment. If the Brewers feel the turnaround is permanent, they’d need to protect him.

Suter worked his way from Double-A into the Triple-A rotation by season’s end, really putting together a nice season. He’s getting older as far as prospects go, and he isn’t a fireballer by any means, but we’ve seen how long it can take some left-handers to really realize their potential. Suter appears to be getting there.

Barnes is another Arizona Fall League participant this year and he’s put together a nice short season there to follow up a solid campaign with Double-A Biloxi in 2015. In eight AFL games (as of this writing) Barnes hasn’t allowed a run on just six hits and three walks (against 17 strikeouts) in 11.2 innings pitched, all in relief. It’s exactly the type of stint that makes the minor league talent evaluators happy but potentially nervous with the Rule 5 Draft coming up.

Finally, with Ortega you have a pitcher who shot from High-A Brevard County all the way up to a spot start at Triple-A Colorado Springs during the season. He was great in both spots and pitching so well that he was officially added to Biloxi’s playoff roster. He made all those moves based in large part on his command and control. Get this stat: Ortega has pitched 439.0 professional innings in the regular season over five years. He has walked just 55 batters, one intentionally. That’s outstanding. A jump all the way from, virtually, High-A ball to the majors might seem too daunting for a team to risk a Rule 5 pick, but there is certainly precedent and if you don’t walk batters then you might be able to find quick success at any level. There are enough rebuilding teams that one of them might be quite happy to pluck Ortega for their system.

There are a couple of other names (Nick Ramirez, Brooks Hall are examples) that I could see Stearns wanting to protect if he evaluates them highly enough, but it feels like the six guys I listed are the core pool this year.

Let me begin my synopsis by saying that I have a feeling Stearns is going to take advantage of all his currently open spots. It feels like he’s got other moves in the works that will free up additional 40-man roster space yet this winter so there’s little reason not to protect as many worthy assets as possible right now.

Without the knowledge of anything coming in the future, I think protecting Arcia and Magnifico happen in every scenario. Of the five players I mentioned outside of them for the three remaining spots I think I’d roll the dice by not protecting Roache and not protecting Suter (I guess?). I think Wang should be protected given his rebound. I think Barnes is going to be a big-league reliever and would rather that be in Milwaukee. I think Ortega is intriguing enough that someonen would pop him if unprotected.

I like Suter and even though he’s left-handed, I think the Brewers would be taking a calculated risk that pays off. With Roache, it’s partially about his strikeout rate (which many teams seem to mind less and less) and his contact rate in general, and partially that they really do have several outfielders in the pipeline who they also believe in who will warrant protection soon too.

I could easily see them protecting Suter and Roache and exposing Barnes (again) and Ortega too. I really don’t know with those four. All of them could go either way and I think there’s justification. Stearns could also have evaluated Wang and not think he’s worth protecting at this time.

We’ll find out on Friday.