The Milwaukee Brewers were busy on the final day of the Winter Meetings, making three selections in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning.
In the Major League phase, Milwaukee selected left-handed pitcher Wei-Chung Wang from the Pirates organization. The 21-year-old cost $50,000 to select and must stick with the Brewers on the 25-man roster for the entire 2014 season or be offered back to Pittsburgh if a trade isn’t worked out.
Wang will be making a big jump to the big leagues if he makes Milwaukee’s roster, as he pitched in the Gulf Coast League in 2013. Making 12 appearances and 11 starts for Pittsburgh’s rookie ball team last season, Wang went 1-3 with a 3.23 ERA with just four walks and 42 strikeouts in 47 1/3 innings.
Signed as an international free agent out of Taiwan in the summer of 2011, Wang’s first contract with Pittsburgh was voided because he had a torn ligament in his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. He signed with the Pirates for less money and sat out the 2012 season after the operation.
Players usually aren’t eligible for the Rule 5 Draft until four or five years after signing based on their age when their first contract is signed, but Wang was in the Rule 5 Draft pool because his first contract was voided.
According to Jim Callis of MLB.com, Wang’s fastball tops at 95 mph and he shows a potential to have a “solid” curveball and changeup. For the time being, Wang fills the vacant spot on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster.
But going from rookie ball to the big leagues is a big challenge, meaning the Brewers will either have to be patient and stash Wang on their 25-man roster for the season or try to work out a trade to keep him in the minor leagues.
Milwaukee also made selections in the Triple-A and Double-A phases of the draft. Players selected in the Triple-A phase cost teams $12,000 and Double-A picks come with a $4,000 price tag. There are no roster restrictions as to what level players taken in these portions of the draft must follow.
The Brewers picked outfielder Kevin Mattison from the Miami Marlins in the Triple-A phase and will likely add him to the Nashville roster. The 28-year-old hit .216 with seven home runs and 31 RBI last season for Triple-A New Orleans.
Mattison, a career .240 hitter in six minor-league seasons, made his Major League debut in 2012 and went hitless in five at-bats with the Marlins. He was Miami’s 28th-round pick in the 2008 draft out of UNC-Asheville.
Milwaukee used its pick in the Double-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft on third baseman Vinnie Catricala from the Oakland organization. The 25-year-old hit .221 with four home runs and 26 RBI for Double-A Midland last season.
Seattle’s 10th-round pick in the 2009 draft out of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Catricala had his best minor-league season in 2011 when he hit .349 with 25 home runs and 106 RBI in 133 games between Class-A advanced High Desert and Double-A Jackson.