MILWAUKEE—Brewers general manager Doug Melvin encourages his staff to think out of the box whenever possible and pro scouting director Zack Minasian and special assistant Dick Groch took him up on it during the Rule 5 draft.
Making a selection no one saw coming, the Brewers took lefthander Wei-Chung Wang out of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system. Wang, 21, has played only one year of professional baseball in the United States and that was at the rookie level in the Gulf Coast League last season.
“I wouldn’t say we necessarily took this guy just because he’s lefthanded,” Minasian said. “We liked him because of his upside. Doug always encourages (us) to try to be creative.
“This was one of those situations where when Dick and I first saw the name and the Gulf Coast League, we didn’t necessarily think Doug would be on board with taking him. But he seemed open-minded to it. We told him what we saw in the player.”
Wang was eligible for the Rule 5 draft only because of an injury after signing with Pittsburgh in 2011. The deal had to be reworked but Wang underwent Tommy John surgery and didn’t pitch until this year.
See Also: 2013 Rule 5 Draft Selections
Asked if he could imagine a player jumping from rookie ball to the majors, Minisian smiled and said, “Not really. The one thing with a Taiwanese pitcher is they technically pitch professionally (in their country).”
Minasian said Brewers scout Charlie Sullivan said Wang was “very poised, under control.”
“Whether he can do that in a big-league stadium, we’ll just wait and see,” added Minasian. “But we’re excited to have the opportunity to see him pitch.”
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds but now apparently bigger than that, Wang pitched in 12 games (11 starts) in the Gulf Coast League and went 1-3 with a 3.23 ERA and a great walk/strikeout ratio of 4/42. He throws his fastball in the 91-93 mph range, has a plus changeup and a developing curveball.
If Wang is kept by the Brewers, it would be more likely as a reliever than starter but the Brewers will keep an open mind and see how he looks in spring training.
- In the Class AAA portion of the Rule 5 draft, the Brewers selected center fielder Kevin Mattison from the Miami system and third baseman Vinnie Catricala from Oakland’s system. Both players were assigned to Class AAA Nashville.
- Longtime minor league manager Rick Sweet was named as the skipper at Nashville. He replaced Darnell Coles, who left to join Detroit’s coaching staff shortly after being named in Nashville.