The Rule 5 Draft is upon us and with comes a lot of questions about who the Braves will protect or not protect as well as “what the hell is the Rule 5 draft?”. Fortunately, we are here to run down the basics. For those of you out there that want to know who the Braves could pick in the Rule 5, Aaron ran down some interesting options earlier this morning.
The Rule 5 draft is essentially a way to prevent teams from stashing away players in the minor leagues forever. The short version is that after a player is drafted, once that player is in the minor leagues for 4-5 years (four years if they were were 19 or older when they were drafted, five if younger), they are considered Rule 5 draft eligible IF they are not on their current organization’s 40 man roster. That last bit will become more important here in a moment. For more info on how the Rule 5 draft works, take a look at this link.
First things first, below are all of the players that are currently in the Braves’ farm system that are eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
That is a lot of players, but very few of them are actually at risk of being selected. Why? Because in order for a team to select a player in the Rule 5 draft and have any realistic chance of keeping them, they must add them to their 25 man roster and keep them on it for a year. If a team does not do so, they must offer that player back to their original team. As a result, we generally see teams select major league ready talent in the Rule 5 since they have to add them to the 40-man (and we still see players get offered back at a decent rate). That likely takes out of consideration all players that are high-A or lower and a good chunk of the guys at Double-A as well before you even get into the specific players. There are some interesting players such as Huascar Ynoa, Braxton Davidson, and Chase Johnson-Mullins based on their profiles that this eliminates, but this does not appear to be the year that they could be selected (next year may be a different story, though).
The Braves do have some 40-man roster spots to protect some players if they wish and one of those spots seems incredibly likely to belong to Patrick Weigel. Weigel was one of the Braves’ better starting pitching prospects until he underwent Tommy John surgery. He has begun throwing again and reports from instructs were largely positive as to how well he has recovered. The best case scenario for Weigel is that he gets added to the 40-man and is in contention for a rotation spot, but the more likely scenario is that he gets added and starts in the bullpen (either in the majors or minors) where his stuff could play up nicely while managing his innings as he comes back from injury.
Jacob Webb and Josh Graham are two relievers that have major league ceilings that could get some consideration for protection as well with Webb seemingly being the more likely of the two. Two names that are familiar to those who follow the Braves’ farm system in Alex Jackson and Travis Demeritte are interesting as well, but it doesn’t seem likely that either would be selected if they weren’t protected so the Braves will likely opt not to. Jackson had a poor year at the plate and some scouts even went as far to say that they didn’t even consider him a prospect anymore (I don’t think I would go quite that far). Demeritte went unprotected last year and was not picked. It is not likely that he boosted his stock in 2018 in a way that would change that this season.
Teams have until tomorrow to decide who to add to their 40 man rosters and protect from the Rule 5 draft. It will be interesting to see who the Braves decide to add (and to not) as the team surprised a lot of us with their decisions last year.