What? You thought the Atlanta Braves did not select anyone in the Rule 5 draft? You were misinformed!!
Every year, the Rule 5 draft leaves plenty of fans confused about how it exactly works. Even those who have covered the draft for years end up with a wrinkle or two each year that requires some research and/or explaining. So, when the Atlanta Braves passed with their selection in the major league portion of the Rule 5, most assumed that the team was done for the day.
In fact, the Atlanta Braves came home with not one, not two, but THREE Rule 5 picks on the day through their selections in the minor league phase of the draft.
First, one thing to note. The Atlanta Braves did not have a single player selected away from the organization in the major league or minor league phase of the draft this year. This marks the first time since 2012 that the Atlanta Braves did not have a player selected during at least one phase of the draft. The Braves last did not make a selection in the MLB portion in 2013 before choosing to pass this year.
While it’s most likely that none of these players will end up in the major leagues, let’s take a quick look at each pick the Atlanta Braves made in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft.
The first selection was right-hander Jason Creasy. He was originally a draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011, but he was released in spring training of 2017. He spent the last two years in independent ball before getting signed by Arizona this year. He struck out 10 in 6 2/3 innings in high-A after signing, and he’d pitched up to AAA with the Pirates.
The second selection was right-hander Rafael De Paula. De Paula pitched 2018 in the Cincinnati Reds organization, his third organization since originally signing with the Yankees. After struggling with health in 2017 after being acquired by the Reds, De Paula had a big year, pitching in AA and AAA, with a 3.41 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and 73 strikeouts over 58 innings.
He’s been dominating in the Dominican Winter League this winter, with a 2.08 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 6/23 BB/K ratio over 21 1/3 innings. De Paula has a power sinker that runs mid-90s with a hard curve that can generate a ton of swing and miss.
The Atlanta Braves third and final selection of the day was infielder Riley Unroe, who was actually selected in the same draft last year by the Angels. Unroe was originally a 2nd round pick out of high school, but his bat never developed. Last season in AA and AAA in the Angels system, he hit .228/.328/.302 with 4 home runs and 11 stolen bases.
Unroe helps to fill a void of infielders in the upper minors in the Braves system, as he played 2B, 3B, and SS, and he’s played some outfield as well.
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While probably only De Paula will have a chance at making the major league roster, and only if he really does well, these selections help to provide depth in the minor leagues that is needed in the Atlanta Braves system.