NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Brewers have been stockpiling prospects for a year and a half, but they lost one on Thursday, when right-hander Miguel Diaz was the first player selected in the Rule 5 Draft.
Diaz is 22 years old and was ranked No. 21 on MLBPipeline.com's list of the top Brewers prospects. He was left unprotected by Milwaukee because he has never thrown a pitch above the Class A level. He now faces a big jump after the Twins took him with the first pick and traded him to the Padres, who must keep Diaz in the Majors in 2017 or offer him back to Milwaukee.
"You always understand when you leave talented players unprotected there's a chance they can get selected," Brewers general manager David Stearns said. "Miguel is a talented player. We felt as though he's a long way from the Major Leagues. He's never pitched above the Midwest League. It's very unusual for guys to be able to make that jump. It's certainly possible that Miguel is the exception to that rule.
"The Padres obviously saw something they like about him. We have to be prepared for that, but it would be the exception to the norm if someone is able to make that jump successfully and contribute at the Major League level. Miguel is a talented pitcher. I'm sure he will work hard to be able to do that."
The Padres have made it work before. Last year, they took Cardinals pitching prospect Luis Perdomo, who had topped out at the Class A Advanced Florida State League the previous season. Perdomo lasted the whole season with San Diego, going 9-10 with a 5.71 ERA in 20 starts and 15 relief appearances, and now is Padres property moving forward.
The Brewers considered making their own selection in the Rule 5 Draft, but they ultimately opted to keep one spot open on their 40-man roster. Milwaukee selected Yankees left-hander Caleb Smith, but it was part of a pre-arranged trade with the Cubs, who will send cash to Milwaukee in exchange for Smith.
In the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, the Brewers took first baseman Art Charles from the Reds' organization and right-hander Matt Ramsey from the Marlins, and they lost outfielder Elvis Rubio.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.