The Brewers announced to reporters, including Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, that they have selected catcher Jeferson Quero and right-hander Bradley Blalock to the 40-man roster. Tomorrow is the deadline to select players eligible for the Rule 5 draft in order to protect them from being selected. The 40-man roster count is now at 36.
Quero, 21, was an international signing out of Venezuela, getting a $200K bonus in 2019. The minor leagues were canceled in 2020 but Quero has since made up for lost time by going through Rookie ball, Single-A, High-A and Double-A.
He spent all of 2023 with the Double-A Biloxi Shuckers, getting into 90 contests for that club. He walked in 10% of his plate appearances while also limited his strikeouts to a 17.8% rate, hitting 16 home runs and stealing five bases. His .262/.339/.440 batting line translated to a wRC+ of 107, indicating he was seven percent above league average.
Quero is considered an excellent defensive catcher, so that ability to also provide some offense makes him a very exciting prospect. He’s currently ranked #29 in the entire league by Baseball America and #32 at MLB Pipeline. Back in July, Keith Law of The Athletic had him up in the #11 slot. Given that lofty reputation, it’s unsurprising that the Brewers didn’t want to risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft. It will be hard for him to get regular playing time at the major league level with William Contreras taking the bulk of it, so Quero will likely head to Triple-A next year and continue to develop towards his eventual debut. The Brewers don’t have any other catchers on the 40-man roster at present but could sign a veteran backup in the offseason.
Blalock, 23 on Christmas, was a 32nd round pick of the Red Sox in 2019 but came to the Brewers a few months back in the Luis Urías trade. He wasn’t able to pitch very much between his draft and this past year since the minors were canceled in 2020 and he missed all of 2022 while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. In 2023, he was able to make 15 minor league starts between the two clubs with a 2.82 earned run average. In his 67 innings, he struck out 27.7% of opponents while issuing walks at a 7.4% clip.
The righty has yet to reach Double-A but it seems the Brewers were nonetheless concerned that he could get picked up in the Rule 5. For now, he’ll add some long-term starting depth as he looks to take the next steps towards his major league debut. BA currently has him as the #24 prospect in the system…