Brewers pick Boushley in Minors Rule 5 Draft

December 8th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- After parting with one Wisconsin product last week, the Brewers brought in another via the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft.

The Brewers selected right-hander Caleb Boushley from the Padres' organization in the first round of the event, which took place on Wednesday as scheduled without the Major League phase. Boushley, 28, hails from Hortonville, Wis., in the Fox Valley region of the state, and he pitched three years at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse before San Diego took him in the 33rd round of the 2017 MLB Draft.

Boushley spent most of 2021 at the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate in El Paso, going 3-8 with a 5.85 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 80 innings at that level. For his professional career, he owns a 4.25 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP and 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings over parts of four seasons.

Like many Minor Leaguers across the sport, Boushley didn’t get any competitive innings during 2020 because of the pandemic, but he told the La Crosse Tribune last year that he refused to refer to it as a “wasted season.” Instead, Boushley and a fellow Padres farmhand from Wisconsin, Elliot Ashbeck, kept working thanks to D-backs catcher Daulton Varsho, yet another Wisconsin native who was Boushley’s teammate in a summer wood bat league in 2016.

His pro career has been a progression, Boushley told the Tribune last summer.

“My first year into my second was like, ‘OK, your fastball is good, but can we find a fastball that we can get to move late?'” said Boushley, who found that pitch in a two-seamer. “Instead of line-drive contact, we can get a popout or ground-ball contact. That has kind of been my focus the last few years -- getting my stuff where it doesn’t have to be nasty, but move just enough to force weaker contact.”

Boushley joins the Brewers' organization soon after another Wisconsin prospect departed. The team traded infielder Alex Binelas of Oak Creek, Wis., to the Red Sox as part of last week’s multi-player trade.

The Brewers made only one selection in Wednesday’s Rule 5 Draft and lost only one player. Catcher Kekai Rios was selected by the Dodgers in the first round after splitting the 2021 season between High-A Wisconsin and Double-A Biloxi, posting a .335 on-base percentage in 165 total plate appearances.

Rios was one of the numerous Hawaiians in the Brewers' system, a 28th-round Draft pick in 2018 who was born in Kaneohe, Hawaii, and attended the University of Hawaii.

Typically, the Rule 5 Draft consists of Major League and Minor League phases, but since all Major League transactions are frozen until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is in place, only the Minor League phase took place during this year's Winter Meetings. The Major League phase may be rescheduled once a new CBA is in place.

For the Minor League phase, any Rule 5 Draft-eligible player could be selected if he was not protected on a 38-man Triple-A roster. Typically, those were international players or high school Draft picks signed in 2017 or earlier -- assuming the player was 18 or younger as of June 8 of that year -- or college players taken in the 2018 Draft or earlier. Any team with a full 38-man Triple-A roster was not allowed to make a selection, but teams could make as many picks as they want until they get to 38 players.

That doesn’t mean, as it does in the Major League phase, that a player selected has to stick at that level. If a team takes a player in the Minor League phase, it costs $24,500, paid to the original team. The selecting team can then send its new player to any level in its system it chooses.