The deadline to protect minor league players from the Rule 5 draft came and went without much news from the Brewers — mostly because they made those moves a few days before they had to. Despite a few open spots on the 40-man roster, a couple of the more interesting names left unprotected were infielder Taylor Green and outfielder Brendan Katin.
Green has lost a bit of his luster as a prospect, and has gone as far to volunteer to take some reps at catcher in fall instructionals just to improve his value and perhaps get him back on the fast track to the big leagues. In recent years, he’s been passed up on the organizational depth chart at second base by Brett Lawrie, and he’s stuck behind Casey McGehee and Mat Gamel at third base. Considering the hit the organization took at catcher this past year with Angel Salome struggling with mental health problems and his subsequent move to the outfield, catching’s not a bad idea for Green. To uninformed people like us, it would seem a man without a position whose bat has stalled lately would make him an unlikely Rule 5 pick, but there have been some weird picks over the years.
Really, the guy I’d hate to see the Brewers lose is Katin. Just from a “really fun to watch” perspective, the guy has Russell Branyan power. He had a great year for Nashville in 2010, putting up a line of .286/.382/.580, hitting a career-high 26 home runs in just 336 at-bats.
Of course, there’s probably a reason the Brewers haven’t given him a chance. For one, just like nearly every outfielder the Brewers have in the majors, he hits right-handed. Two, he strikes out. A lot. Like “career 31% K-rate in the minors” a lot. Finally, despite popping homers like Branyan and whiffing like Branyan, he can’t — or at least hasn’t until this year — walk like the King of the Three True Outcomes. While Katin’s 2010 was impressive, there’s always the worry that it’s a result of his being third full season in Nashville and playing in his age 27 season.
Still, I think he’d be a nice bench bat, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some other team sees him the same way. He could be an interesting piece as the right-handed half of a platoon, or maybe even a full-time player on a bad team. I’d hate to see him go for fear of him becoming another Nelson Cruz late bloomer-type, but at the same time, it’s pretty clear he’s not in the organization’s plans. They have the open space on the 40-man, there’s a chance he’d be an attractive option for somebody, but they’re choosing not to stash him.