Last week we discussed how baseball's annual Rule 5 Draft works and took a look at the Brewers recent history in the draft. Though the Brewers themselves don't have a stellar history of finding talent through the Rule 5, last season's crop produced a nearly unprecedented 10 picks (of 14 total) who stuck with their clubs through all of 2015. Slingin' David Stearns has had an active first offseason so far and it's possible that he will utilize the Rule 5 Draft to continue adding young, controllable talent to the pipeline.
After several recent moves to thin out the roster the Brewers currently have five 40 man roster spots available in advance of Thursday's draft, which will have live audio streaming on MLB.com starting at 8 pm CT. The Brewers hold the fifth overall selection in the draft so Stearns should have an opportunity to grab some of the top talent available to give the opportunity to stick with Milwaukee next season. Of course he also comes to the cream city from the Houston Astros, the organization that JJ Cooper of Baseball America predicted would be the "most-raided team" for the second year in a row.
So, who the some players that might be of interest to the Brewers this year? Here are five of my favorites:
CF Teoscar Hernandez || Houston Astros
Hernandez is one of several Astros farmhands that are available in the draft, and Stearns has already shown he's willing to dip into his old pool of prospects with the Jonathan Villar trade. Hernandez is a recently turned 23 year old who began this season ranked as Houston's 8th best prospect according to MLB Pipeline, but has seen his stock and ranking tumble after a tough year at AA. In 514 plate appearances Hernandez slashed only .219/.275/.362 and he's has always had a problem with strikeouts, including whiffing 24.5% of the time in 2015.
The Brewers do have a need in center field however, and Hernandez is a true center fielder with plus speed and an above-average arm. He's stolen 30+ bases in each of the last two seasons and also provides plenty of pop with his bat. He slugged 17 home runs last year and 21 home runs in 2014, a year that he split between high-A and AA and posted an .897 OPS. He'll also draw his share of walks and has reached base via free pass 8.2% of the time throughout his career. He's a potential high ceiling power-speed combo, but who still needs to prove that he'll hit enough to be an effective major leaguer.
3B/OF Tyler Goeddel || Tampa Bay Rays
Goeddel was a supplemental first rounder by the Rays back in 2011. He began his career as a third baseman but due to some defensive struggles, he was moved to the outfield in 2015. He has a plus arm and above average speed and is capable of covering all three outfield positions, but perhaps the Brewers would be open to helping coach him through some of his deficiencies at the hot corner given their current lack of options in both the majors and upper minors.
At the dish, Baseball America praises the right handed hitting Goeddel as one of the more polished hitters available in this year's Rule 5 draft. He's posted a 118 wRC+ in high-A in 2014 and 122 wRC+ in AA as a 22 year old this past season, reaching double digit home runs (12) for the first time. He doesn't strike out a ton and draws plenty of walks, carrying a 9.1% walk rate for his career. He's also a threat on the bases and has stolen 20+ in each of his four professional seasons.
Goeddel figures to be one of the most sought after players available in this year's Rule 5 Draft, and the main question is not if he will be picked but rather if he'll still be on the board when it's the Brewers' turn to make their selection.
C/UTIL Willians Astudillo || Atlanta Braves
The Brewers don't have a need at catcher right now with the defensively gifted Martin Maldonado backing up Jonathan Lucroy. But Luc figures to be a popular trade candidate as the top catcher available on the market and could perhaps be moved this offseason, if not this week during the Winter Meetings.
Willians Astudillo isn't a defensively gifted backstop, he doesn't walk much, has very little power, and has yet to play above high-A ball in six seasons. What he does do is consistently put the ball in play. He carries a .318 batting average and he has struck out just 51 times in 1,684 minor league plate appearances. That's just a little bit over three percent for his entire career. Baseball America recently hailed him as a "one-tool wonder" and the case could probably be made that this guy would be a star in a by-gone era.
Astudillo began his career in the Phillies organization and signed a minor league deal with Atlanta earlier this winter. In addition to catching, the 24 year old also has experience at first base, third base, and left field Though he's not particularly adept at any of those positions, he could perhaps be deployed in super-utility role in addition to backup catcher and a superb pinch hitting option.
INF TJ Rivera || New York Mets
Rivera signed with the Mets as an undrafted free agent out of Troy University in 2011, and he's worked tirelessly to establish himself as a potential big leaguer since then. He's hit at every minor league stop he's made as a professional, including a solid .306/.345/.443 slash in 54 games in his first taste of AAA this past season.
At 27 years old, Rivera isn't a power threat and doesn't have huge upside. He does possess a potentially above average bat though and carries a career .318/.366/.418 batting line with a low strike out rate. He's capable of playing all over the infield and could perhaps be a stop-gap option at third base or a platoon partner with Scooter Gennett at second. His ultimate ceiling is likely a utility player but his bat could still be a useful addition for the Brewers.
RHP Luis Perdomo || St. Louis Cardinals
Perdomo is just 22 and has yet to pitch above high-A, so it's safe to say the Cardinals' farmhand is still quite a raw pitching prospect. He does have strong upside, however, as he is currently ranked as the club's 11th best prospect by MLB Pipeline and represented the Cardinals in this summer's Futures Game.
The lanky right hander is a ground ball machine (53.8% GB rate in 2015) who throws a plus fastball that sits around 93-95 MPH but has touched 97 in shorter stints. His hard slider is a potentially above average pitch and he also flashes decent feel for his changeup, meaning he could stick as a starter over the long-term. He's shown solid command thus far in his minor league career and walked only 6.8% of the batters he faced over 126.2 innings last season.
At this juncture Perdomo would likely have to be utilized as a reliever in order to keep him on the active roster for an entire season should the Brewers or any other club take a chance on him. But with three potentially average or better pitches and solid command, Perdomo could have the makings of a ground-ball heavy starting pitcher who would fit right in at Miller Park and in the middle of future Brewers' starting rotations. Plus, wouldn't it be nice to steal someone highly regarded away from the hated Cardinals?