The Milwaukee Brewers have added five prospects to the 40-man roster to make the grand total at 39 players as of right now. The Brewers must still add one more player and there is no guarantee these five will be on the roster come spring training.
The five minor-league prospects Milwaukee added are second baseman Scooter Gennett, outfielder Josh Prince, outfielder Khris Davis, and right-handed pitchers Nick Bucci and Hiram Burgos. The reason the Brewers elected to select these five players is because they are the closest to major league ready and the organization decided they must protect them from the Rule 5 draft that will take place in a few weeks.
The Rule 5 draft occurs every year during the Winter Meetings in December. The purpose of this draft is to prevent teams from acquiring numerous prospects and holding them in their minor league system when other teams could be using those players on their Major League roster. The five players the Brewers placed on the 40-man roster are not eligible for the Rule 5 draft, which means Milwaukee will not have to part ways with them.
“They’ve all excelled at various times over the course of the season at different levels,” said assistant GM Gord Ash. “Probably even more important than that are the tools and ability they possess. We want to manage and protect our assets. We didn’t want to lose any of the five.”
Gennett is probably the most recognizable name of the five players as he has been one of Milwaukee’s top prospects since he was drafted in 2009. The 22-year-old has made a minor-league all-star team for the past three seasons and even hit for the cycle in a Brewers split squad game against the Kansas City Royals earlier this year.
Prince, 24, batted .404 in the Arizona Fall League, which gave the Brewers a reason to add him to the roster. The third-round pick in the 2009 draft batted .251 with seven home runs, 55 RBI and 41 stolen bases in 596 plate appearances at Double-A Huntsville.
“That (Arizona Fall League) performance certainly put him over the top,” said Ash. “That kind of performance in that setting is something everyone notices. He was the talk of the league, and every scout from every team passes through there at some point. It’s hard to minimize that kind of performance. He solidified his place in the organization.”
Davis, a seventh-round draft pick in 2009, split time between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville in 2012. The 24-year-old played in only 76 games due to a leg injury but posted phenomenal performances in both leagues. Davis batted .383 with eight homers and 23 RBI in Double-A and .310 with four home runs and 24 RBI in Triple-A.
“He’s a tremendous offensive player,” said Ash. “He’s a bit streaky but when he’s hot, he’s real hot. I saw him hit the longest home run I saw all year at Nashville. It went over the batter’s eye in center field. The ability is there and in the American League, it’s easy to carry an extra hitter (as a Rule 5 pick). His bat is close to being big-league ready. We didn’t want to lose him.”
Bucci has a great arm but was unable to show off its full potential due to an arm injury he suffered this past season. In six starts at Class A Brevard County, Bucci went 2-2 with a 1.99 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. Burgos, 25, had one of the more successful seasons in the Brewers’ farm system in 2012. He moved through three leagues and finished the year in Triple-A. In 28 games, 27 of which were starts, Burgos posted a 10-4 record with an incredible 1.94 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 171 innings.