Thirty players in Milwaukee's minor league system are eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft, one of the lowest totals in the big leagues.
However, will any of these prospects find employment on another team's roster? And more importantly, will Milwaukee roll the dice during the activities scheduled Dec. 11 in Las Vegas, the final day of the four-day Winter Meetings?
Among those who could be chosen are four pitchers that the team signed to minor league deals in October with invitations to big-league camp: right-hander Joe Bateman and lefties Sam Narron, Chris Narveson and Lindsay Gulin. Milwaukee obtained Bateman from San Francisco's system in last year's Rule 5 draft.
Regardless of whether general manager Doug Melvin and the Brewers get involved, they no doubt have scoured the list of nearly 1,200 players who are available, and pitching is always a target.
Milwaukee has room and flexibility to do something with six spots open on the 40-man roster, but that also depends on whether they pull off any trades or sign any free agents.
The Brewers have been successful in the past as such pitchers as Graeme Lloyd, Al Reyes and Jose Mercedes were obtained in this way.
On a historical note, one former Brewer star went through this process before coming to Milwaukee: On Nov. 30, 1970, first baseman Cecil Cooper was drafted by St. Louis from Boston after the Red Sox failed to protect him despite a combined .338 average in three minor league campaigns. However, the Cardinals didn't keep him and thus he went back to Beantown and years later was sent to the Brewers in the George Scott trade.
Here is a list of Brewers' farm hands available and a brief explanation of how the Rule 5 draft works.
Rule 5 draft explanation
A player not on a team's 40-man roster is eligible if he was 18 or younger when first signing a pro contract and this is the fifth Rule 5 draft since he signed, or if he was 19 or older when he first signed a pro contract and this is the fourth draft since he signed.
A player drafted onto a Major League roster must remain in the majors--on the 25-man active roster or the disabled list--for all of the subsequent season or the drafting club must attempt to return him to his original club. However, since a returned Rule 5 player must first be placed on outright waivers, a third club could claim the player off waivers. But that club would then also have to keep him in the majors all season or offer him back to his original club. Occasionally, the drafting club will work out a trade with the player's original team, allowing the drafting club to retain the player but send him to the minors.