It’s that time of the year when the Atlanta Braves seek to prevent any prospect sniping from other clubs.
Ah, the Rule 5 draft. If you’re one who keeps track of those eligible, those desirable, and the rules governing the process… then you’re either a true fan of the game or a member of the Atlanta Braves front office.
On Friday afternoon, all MLB teams have a deadline to protect their most desirable, longer-tenured minor league prospects from the poaching tentacles from other clubs.
How do you protect them? That’s easy: add the player(s) to your 40-man roster.
Who needs to be protected? That’s a bit more complicated:
- For players signed at age 19+: those who have played in pro ball for four years.
- For players signed before age 19: those who have played in pro ball for five years.
Those players in the minors who are in need of protection — but are not granted that protection — constitute the pool of talent available for December’s “Rule 5” draft.
The Atlanta Braves expand their roster
Accordingly, here are the 4 players protected today:
The maximum size of the 40-man roster is pretty much self-defining: once you have 40 names on the list, you’re done adding names.
In terms of the Top-prospects list, the Braves protected…
- #3 Drew Waters (outfielder)
- #12 Freddy Tarnok (RHP)
- #28 William Woods (RHP)
- (unranked) Brooks Wilson (RHP)
That latter pair of names on the list might be a bit surprising to some.
Woods is about to finish up work in the Arizona Fall League this month, and has been doing quite well: 17 innings in 5 appearances (4 starts) with a 4.24 ERA. He started his pro career as a 19-year-old in 2018, and thus this is his 4th season with the Braves.
Woods is already defying the odds, by gaining roster consideration as a 23rd round JuCo pick. He didn’t get a lot of game work in this season (elbow), but finished up at High-A Rome this year.
Another interesting name here is that of Brooks Wilson. He was originally drafted by the Rangers out of Stetson (Jacob deGrom‘s school) in 2017… in the 24th round. Rejecting their overtures, the Atlanta Braves snagged him for good in 2018’s 7th round.
Wilson played at 2 levels this year: AA and AAA. At Mississippi, he logged 44 innings as a reliever, punching out 73 hitters.
He got a late bump to Gwinnett and struck out another 11… nearly half the batters he faced (23 in 6 innings). His ERA for the year? 2.34.
Those kinds of numbers will get you noticed… ranked on the prospect boards or not.
There are some kids who were not protected that could find themselves on another team next season… though Rule 5 picks have to be kept on the major league roster for the entire season or risk being returned.
Daysbel Hernandez might have the best chance of being picked up. A right-hand pitcher, Hernandez is a 25-year-old Cuban who threw a 2.76 ERA at Mississippi (32.2 innings).
However, a trip to Gwinnett wasn’t as productive: 7.45 ERA in 9.2 innings.
The Braves 40-man roster
With the 40-man list now full, there are 2 implications:
- Atlanta can’t add any more players now… Freddie Freeman included.
- Atlanta can’t currently choose a Rule 5-eligible player in the draft.
Neither issue is that difficult to overcome. A trade could remove 1 or more names to make room for others, players could be designated for assignment (i.e., removed from the list — though they would be subject to being claimed by other clubs), or outright released.
You might ask about trading Rule 5 eligible players… that won’t happen. No team would accept such a player at this time of the year unless that player had been added to a 40-man list before the deadline… that’s because the player could still be taken away from them during the draft.
But for this year: the 4 players added by the Braves today are the ones deemed to be their most valuable assets to protect. That’s also why 40-man roster slots are also precious commodities to each club.