Brewers Rule 5 Chuck Lofgren For Situational Potential





MILWAUKEE—The Brewers were well aware that lefthander Chuck Lofgren has struggled mightily at times in recent years, particularly with his command.

But they're going to ask him to do primarily one thing next spring: retire lefthanded batters.

The Brewers selected the Lofgren, 23, from the Indians in the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft, with the express hope that he could emerge as another situational relief option. For most of 2009, Mil-waukee carried only one lefty in its pen, but Mitch Stetter eventually wore down from overwork.

"This whole process is addition," Brewers special scout Dick Groch said. "You approach it on need."

At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Lofgren is a physical, athletic pitcher who once ranked among the top prospects in the Indians' system. But he lost a bit of his focus as his mother battled breast cancer, then he began experiencing command issues and appeared to lose his way.

Lofgren fared so poorly in the Arizona Fall League in 2008 that nobody touched him in the Rule 5 draft afterward. But he bounced back in 2009, getting his first extended look at Triple-A Columbus and going 9-11, 4.15 overall, with 93 strikeouts and 48 walks in 141 innings.

Despite his ups and downs, Lofgren dominated lefthanded batters, limiting them to a .179 (19-for-106) average.

"It will be a change, but I look forward to the opportunity," said Lofgren, who got up early in California to catch the Rule 5 draft live at 9 a.m. Eastern time. "I think it's great to have an opportunity to pitch for a major league team in any rule."

Lofgren has topped out at 94-95 mph with his fastball but sits regularly at 90-93. He has a slow curveball that he throws around 75 mph, and he mixes in a changeup and slider, with some deception in his delivery.

"His stuff is average across the board," Groch said. "That goes for his control and his command and his pitchability. Actually, his pitchability is a little above-average.

"We like his age, we like his body, we like the things we can do with him."

MICROBREWERS

• The Brewers acquired 25-year-old shortstop Luis Cruz on a waiver claim from the Pirates. He was viewed as the replacement for Alcides Escobar at Triple-A Nashville.

• Australian outfielder Trent Oeltjen, 26, signed a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. He spent most of last season with Diamondbacks' Triple-A Reno affiliate.