Jungmann headlines Brewers’ roster adds

UPDATED at 7:30 p.m. CT — The Brewers just announced they’d also added right-hander David Goforth to the 40-man roster, which is now full. 

Former collegiate star and first round Draft pick Taylor Jungmann moved a step closer to the Major Leagues on Thursday when the Brewers added the right-handed starting pitcher to their 40-man roster.

Jungmann was one of four players, with relievers David Goforth and Mike Strong and shortstop Yadiel Rivera, who was added to Milwaukee’s roster ahead of the deadline to protect eligible players from next month’s Rule 5 Draft. As a result, all four will be in big league Spring Training camp, and if they are sent to the Minors to begin next season as expected, the Brewers will have to spend one of three options allotted each player.

With the additions, the Brewers 40-man roster is full.

Jungmann, who will turn 25 next month, was 12-10 with a 3.57 ERA in 27 starts and one relief appearance between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville in 2014, with a significant jump in his strikeout rate to 8.6 per nine innings. His previous best was 5.8 strikeouts per nine innings in the advanced Class A Florida State League in 2012, Jungmann’s first professional season.

The former University of Texas standout spent most of the season in Triple-A, where he was 8-4 with a 3.98 ERA in 18 starts plus one relief outing. He struck out 101 batters in 101 2/3 innings at Nashville.

Plenty can happen between now and the time rosters are set, but Jungmann appears positioned to follow in the footsteps of another big right-hander, Jimmy Nelson, who pitched the second half of 2013 and the first half of 2014 at the Triple-A level before the Brewers needed him in the Majors at midseason. If Jungmann is indeed sent back to Triple-A to begin 2015, he would lead the starting rotation at the Brewers’ new Colorado Springs affiliate.

Strong, 26, has struck out 242 batters in 209 innings over the past three seasons and earned a trip to this year’s Arizona Fall League. With the free agent departures of Zach Duke and Tom Gorzelanny, Strong is one of only two left-handed relievers (Will Smith is the other) on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster. Another lefty, Wei-Chung Wang, will convert back to a starting role in the Minor Leagues in 2015.

Goforth, 26, logged  27 saves as Huntsville’s closer last season and could reprise the role next year in Nashville if he doesn’t make the cut in Milwaukee. Goforth’s name was absent when the three other roster additions were announced on Thursday morning, but was informed later in the day that he would be added as well. GM Doug Melvin said he was simply waiting for input from club decision-makers who had seen Goforth pitch.

Rivera is just 22 and a superior defensive shortstop who split last season between advanced Class A Brevard County and Huntsville, batting .258 with five home runs, 30 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.

Among the notable players left unprotected on Thursday was right-hander Drew Gagnon, who was 11-6 with a 3.96 ERA in 28 Double-A starts. Others who could draw interest in the Rule 5 Draft include former first round Draft pick Jed Bradley and right-hander Tyler Cravy. Cravy was also left unprotected last season.

Any of those players could be had by another team at the Rule 5 Draft, to be held on Dec. 11 on the final day of the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player, and if that player doesn’t stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.

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