The MLB lockout continues on as transactions are frozen at the big league level, but things have continued mostly as usual on the minor league side of the game. That includes today’s Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft, during which teams were allowed to comb through the minor leagues and select players who were left unprotected by their organizations. The Milwaukee Brewers made a selection — a local product, even! — at #22 overall and added some advanced depth to their system.
22. Brewers select RHP Caleb Boushley (Padres)— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) December 8, 2021
Caleb Boushley, recently turned 28, was born in Hortonville, Wisconsin and pitched collegiately at UW-La Crosse. After a distinguished career with the Eagles, Boushley was seen as one of the best available D-III prospects and chosen by the Padres in the 33rd round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Boushley first put himself on the map with a strong season in 2018 that saw him post a 2.71 ERA in 73.0 innings across three levels, then he was a California League All-Star in 2019 as he pitched to a 3.61 ERA across 102.1 frames on the hitter-friendly circuit.
After the lost MiLB season in 2020, Boushley split this past summer between Double-A and Triple-A, getting knocked around a little bit in 16 appearances (15 starts) at the highest level of the minors. Overall, Boushley owns a 4.25 ERA in 332.2 innings pitched across four minor league seasons. He has posted sterling K:BB ratios during his career, with averages of 8.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in his 99 career games (43 starts), and he has experience working in both starting and relief roles. In this 2019 report from Mad Friars, Boushley is described as someone who “won’t overpower hitters but he commands a low 90s fastball well and has a curve that he can spot in the zone.” Earlier in the year in May, Boushley himself described his approach on the mound:
“I’m a primary fastball-changeup pitcher, and if I’m able to throw my changeup in the zone, my fastball plays pretty well off that. So, it’s just a matter of throwing strikes with all of my offerings.”
The Brewers did also lose a player in the draft, with the Dodgers scooping up an interesting catching prospect:
24. Dodgers select C Kekai Rios (Brewers)— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) December 8, 2021
Rios, 25 next June, was a 28th-round pick by the Brewers out of Hawaii in 2018. He hasn’t taken many trips to bat as a professional, with just 334 plate appearances across three seasons, but he stood out offensively with Class A-Advanced Wisconsin this past summer and even made a brief cameo in Double-A. Rios finished with a .270/.357/.410 slash and three home runs in 165 plate appearances for the Timber Rattlers this summer, good for a 112 wRC+. Rios was profiled in Baseball America’s Rule 5 Draft preview:
Another defensive standout among available catchers, Rios is arguably the best defender available. He nabs base runners at a 40% rate, blocks, frames, and receives extremely well and looks comfortable in the crouch. At the plate, he’s an above-average bat-to-ball hitter with a propensity to expand the zone. He lacks power at the point of contact and rarely shows power in games. If a team is to select Rios, it will be due to his standout defensive abilities.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs