Brewers Active in Rule 5 Draft

The Brewers gained two players overall during an active Rule 5 draft, adding five players and losing three. The top prize was righty Eduardo Morlan, who must be kept on the 25-man roster this season or be offered back to Tampa Bay.

While action heated up for Milwaukee at the big-league level on the final day of the winter meetings Thursday, the Brewers were just as or more busy stockpiling prospective talent to its farm system.

Milwaukee added five new players and lost three others during the Rule 5 draft.

The biggest news was in the major league portion, where the Crew lost former top catching prospect Lou Palmisano to Baltimore with the fifth selection. The Orioles then traded him to Houston.

Meanwhile, Doug Melvin and company grabbed right-handed pitcher Eduardo Morlan from Tampa Bay's Double-A Montgomery franchise of the Southern League. Morlan, a former third-round pick by Minnesota, must remain on the Brewers' 25-man roster this season or be offered back to the Rays for half of the $50,000 draft price tag.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Cuban native is expected to give the team an option for sixth- or seventh-inning duty after compiling a 4-2 record, 3.64 earned-run average and one save in 30 relief appearances in 2008. He allowed 44 hits and 15 walks while striking out 45 in 47 innings.

Morlan was an all-star in 2006-07 and played in the Futures Game at Yankee Stadium this past July. He currently sports a 2-0 mark and 2.77 ERA in 11 outings in the Puerto Rican Winter League, where he has given up 15 hits in 13 innings with 14 strikeouts and three walks.

Palmisano missed most of the 2008 campaign because of a knee injury but had bounced back with a nice showing in the Arizona Fall League.

Meanwhile, the Brewers cranked things up in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 draft. They added right-handed hurler Mark Holliman from the Cubs, second baseman Jonathan Ash from the Astros and two shortstops, Shane Justis from the Dodgers and Juan Sanchez from the Twins. All four have been added to the Nashville roster.

Milwaukee said goodbye to righty Patrick Ryan and infielder Guilder Rodriguez, both of whom were at Huntsville. Ryan went to Seattle—and new general manager Jack Zduriencik—while Texas nabbed Rodriguez.

Holliman spent most of last summer at Tennessee, working 86 innings with 78 strikeouts and 54 walks in 26 games, 13 of them starts. He finished 3-4 with a 4.50 ERA. He then went 1-1 with a 5.16 ERA in five starts at Triple A Iowa.

Ash combined to hit .240 in stints in the Double-A Texas League and with Round Rock of the International League, contributing only 12 extra-base hits and 11 RBI in 275 at-bats. However, he walked 39 times and whiffed only 21 times for a .339 on-base percentage.

Justis also performed in the Southern League in '08, hitting .266 with 17 doubles, 37 RBI and a 48-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio for a .357 OBP.

And Sanchez batted .314 in the Gulf Coast League, knocking in 17 runs and belting 13 doubles in 42 games, making the All-Star team.

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