Another Rule 5 success story for 2016: Colin Walsh of the Milwaukee Brewers, who has made the Opening Day roster.
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Colin Walsh, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
Bats: S Throws: R HT: 6-0 WT: 200 DOB: September 26, 1989
2013: Grade C; 2014: Grade C; 2015: Grade C
Walsh was originally drafted by the Cardinals in the 13th round in 2010 out of Stanford. He had success at lower levels but was released after a poor 2013 season. Oakland picked him up as a free agent and was rewarded with an excellent 2015 campaign; the Brewers subsequently chose him in the Rule 5 draft. Walsh is a switch-hitter with a touch of power and speed. He strikes out a lot but he also draws a very high number of walks. His best position is second base where he is just barely adequate. He also has experience at third base and left field but is a below average defender at both positions. I’ve seen Walsh several times over the years and his bat looks impressive in person: it is quick enough to produce surprising power from both sides of the plate and he has a good eye. The problem has always been finding him a position.If he can stay healthy like he did in 2015, he could be a very useful role player. Grade C+.
Walsh .255/.400/.319 this spring with three doubles, 11 walks, and 11 strikeouts in 47 at-bats. He didn't repeat the type of power he showed in the 2015 Texas League (.302/.447/.470 with 39 doubles, 13 homers) but he impressed the Brewers with his exceptional strike zone judgment.
David Laurila at Fangraphs spoke with Walsh a few days ago and the interview is well worth your time. Walsh builds his entire hitting approach around controlling the strike zone. He's a bright guy and has a civil engineering degree from Stanford to fall back on if baseball doesn't work out.
Walsh talks about his defense in the interview and that is worth discussing. My report above is pretty negative about the glove, mainly due to lack of range and the typical quickness associated with second base. However, it is true that Walsh has improved his reliability at second and doesn't make a ton of errors. He's not going to wow you with spectacular feats of athleticism, but he's playable if he hits enough.
I think he can do enough with the bat to be a viable role player: hitting .250 with a solid OBP and a good walk rate, doubles power and the occasional homer, that seems well within his capabilities.