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 —
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.
(Because sometimes, puns can’t be helped.)
Following this morning’s announcement of three additions to the Brewers’ 40-man roster, there remained one open spot. I opined to one of my followers on Twitter that I was surprised David Goforth was not among those chosen.
@brewersblend Goforth, yeah. I think his stuff is intriguing and could entice somebody to hide his power arm in their ‘pen. I think.. (MORE)
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) November 20, 2014
Tom Haudricourt first told us that David Goforth was being considered for a the last remaining open slot on the 40-man roster, and the Rule 5 draft protection that comes along with it. Adam McCalvy then tweeted that Goforth was going to be added to the 40-man roster, according to a source. Naturally, I think it’s a wise move.
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) November 21, 2014
Goforth is a right-handed pitcher who seems to have found a home in the back of the bullpen after serving for the majority of 2014 as the closer as Double-A Huntsville. He recorded 27 saves in 44 games finished across 54 appearances. He posted a 3.78 ERA as he was prone to the occasional blow up outing (six games of multiple runs allowed), but far more often than not, Goforth was nails (39 scoreless outings of his 54). He struck out 46 in 64.2 innings, leading one to understand that his forte is generating ground balls. While not elite, Goforth posted a 1.76 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio. He throws a heavy ball though that stays in the park though, with a 2014 HR/9 of just 0.28 and a HR-to-fly ball ratio of 4.3%.
The other major calling card that brings Goforth attention as a prospect is that his heavy fastball also sits in the mid-90s and touches 98 MPH. But heat isn’t all he brings. Goforth features a strong cut fastball and is developing potentially above average offerings in a curveball and changeup. As is often cited on prospect reports, and backed up in the numbers, Goforth’s biggest obstacle to a full-time back-end bullpen job in Milwaukee is himself. He needs to improve his command. Many bullpen guys breakthrough “late” according to standard progression, but Goforth just having turned 26 shouldn’t worry anybody from projecting his possible ceiling, in my opinion.
Today the Brewers announced the additions of three players to the 40-man roster, a move that comes ahead of today’s deadline to protect those players from the Rule 5 Draft. The Rule 5 Draft takes places each December on the last day of baseball’s annual Winter Meetings.
Last year the Brewers protected four players: infielders Hunter Morris and Jason Rogers, and pitchers Kevin Shackelford (since removed) and Brooks Hall.
Morris and Hall were hurt for a stretch of time in 2014, though Hall pitched well making up time in the Arizona Fall League following surgery. Jason Rogers was among Milwaukee’s September call-ups in 2014.
The Brewers had nearly a full 40-man roster of players to consider for protection (38), including 22 who were eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time.
Here are the three prospects who were protected with a little bit more information about each of them.
Taylor Jungmann is a big (6’6″) right-handed pitcher who was the team’s top overall draft pick (12th overall) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Texas. He split time this season between Double-A Huntsville and, after an earned promotion, Triple-A Nashville. He posted a combined 12-10 record in 27 starts and one appearance out of the bullpen right after his promotion to Triple-A. Jungmann, who turns 25 next month, posted a composite 3.57 ERA in 153.2 innings. He struck out 147 hitters overall, 101 of which came in his 101.2 innings at Nashville.
Mike Strong, who turned 26 three days ago, earned protection after a long and successful 2014. The southpaw pitcher played for three different teams this year, making all but one regular season appearance with High-A Brevard County before a one-game season-ender with Huntsville (where he pitched 4.0 scoreless in relief) and then participating in the Arizona Fall League as a member of the Glendale Desert Dogs. In the Florida State League, Strong was 2-2 with a 2.50 ERA in 75.2 innings pitched across 30 games (six starts). He struck out 78 batters as a Manatee, saved four games, and posted a 1.044 WHIP. In Arizona, his 1.98 ERA in 11 games, two saves, and 14 punchies in 13.2 innings were a cherry on top of his case to make the 40-man roster.
Yadiel Rivera is the third player protected this year and is considered to be nearly ready defensively for the Major Leagues. Before 2014, however, Rivera’s bat was lagging significantly behind. Still just 22 years old, Rivera slashed .258/.309/.374 combined in 2014, with a line of .262/.304/.410 at Double-A following his late-June promotion from High-A. He still needs development at the plate, and Orlando Arcia will be nipping at his heels at shortstop in the system, but with his defensive profile and step forward as a hitter, Rivera deserved protection.
With these three additions, the Brewers 40-man roster currently stands at 39 players.
Of note is that the Brewers are still considering the addition of a fourth player to the 40-man roster in advance of today’s 11pm CT deadline. That report came via a tweet from beat writer Tom Haudricourt who called GM Doug Melvin for comments on Jungmann, Strong, and Rivera.
David Goforth was the surprise to me this morning as having been left off of the 40-man roster, but to hear that the Brewers are still considering him is encouraging.