Players selected in the rule five draft often have a difficult time in the big leagues. Although they need to stay on the roster for the full season for a club to retain the rights to them, these players are often too young or not physically and mentally ready for the major leagues
Some rule five picks have had great success like Johan Santana and Josh Hamilton. Others like Enrique Cruz (whom the Brewers took and kept for the entire 2003 season) greatly struggle to make any contributions. Many others are sent back to their former teams before spring training ends.
This season, one of the most intriguing players on the Brewers spring training roster is their rule five pick Wei-Chung Wang. The 21 year old left hander is not like most rule five picks; he has only 47.1 innings of minor league pitching experience behind him, never pitching above the Gulf Coast Rookie League. He throws a low 90s fastball and a devastating changeup. He was made available to the Brewers because after missing all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery, the Pirates elected not to put him on the 40 man roster.
Through his very limited minor league innings, Wang struck out 42 batters and walked just four. This type of control will be imperative for Wang if he is to not only make the club out of camp, but also maintain a roster spot throughout the season. Manager, Ron Roenicke spoke to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com about the difficulty of keeping a rule five player on the roster all season saying, “Those are tough guys to keep the whole year. If we’re going to keep this guy, we need him to be a guy we know we can bring in and he’ll throw some strikes and get people out.”
Wang will need to maintain his command to stay with the club through the season. So far this spring, Wang has yet to allow an earned run in five innings, while striking out four and walking none. He will need to continue to put up these numbers to earn his spot.
Being young, Wang still has potential to not only pitch out of the pen, but he also has the ability to start at some point, too. If he makes the club he could combine to give Milwaukee their first strong group of lefty relievers in ages. It is always a risk taking rule five players, especially with the limited experience of Wang, but this arm could reap big rewards in Milwaukee for 2014 and beyond.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference
References: Brewers Select Wang
Looking to Earn a Roster Spot, Wang Impresses