Most Atlanta Braves fans understand how the regular MLB Draft works. Generally speaking (with some notable exceptions and weirder cases), teams draft eligible players from the high school and college ranks with draft position being determined by teams’ records the previous season. The Rule 5 draft functions in a very similar way, but with a very different purpose in a lot of ways.
See, the regular draft is how teams primarily bring in young talent from the amateur ranks while the Rule 5 draft is to prevent teams from stockpiling prospects and letting them rot. To be eligible for the Rule 5 draft, a player must have played in the minors for five years AND have signed when they were 18 or younger OR played four years in the minors and signed at age 19 or higher. They also cannot currently be on a team’s 40 man roster. In short, its a way to ensure that teams have to actually make decisions on players instead of just stashing them away so that other teams can’t have them.
Every team, including the Atlanta Braves, has a number of players that are Rule 5 eligible, but only a select few that are actually in danger of being taken. Today was the deadline to add players to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 and the Braves made their decision.
So who did the Atlanta Braves add to protect them from the Rule 5?
The three names that the Braves ended up protecting were, oddly enough, the same three that myself and Garrett Spain predicted during my former life over at Battery Power if you want to take a look at Garrett’s fantastic Rule 5 preview here. Here is the short version.
Roddery Munoz is a high upside righty with a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 90’s and a breaking ball that gets swings and misses. He wasn’t a super sure bet to get picked in the upcoming Rule 5 because he hasn’t played much above high-A, but the Braves are wagering that 1) he is good enough to have on the 40 man anyways and 2) another team would have seen the quality of his raw stuff and been happy to stash him in their bullpen even if he isn’t quite ready to be a starter.
Braden Shewmake is a shortstop and former first round pick by the Braves from the same draft class that brought them Shea Langeliers. Shewmake is a surefire shortstop, but the hit tool has regressed a bit and the game power has been hit and miss as a pro. He has also had some trouble staying on the field including a pretty scary knee injury that ended his season in 2022 when he collided with Travis Demeritte in left field. This addition doesn’t feel like one that is strictly based on merit or position, but prospect pedigree.
Finally, we have Darius Vines who has been a real success story from the Braves’ player development pipeline. His fastball leaves something to be desired, but his breaking stuff is quite good and he has one of the best changeups in the entire farm system. He also put up some real production in 2022 and pitched his way all the way to Triple-A this past season. He was probably the most certain guy to get added, so no surprises here.
Farewell, Guillermo Heredia
Sadly, the Braves had to make room on the 40 man roster for these guys and Silvino Bracho, William Woods, and fan favorite and vibes guru Guillermo Heredia were the cuts. Bracho is not a surprise and as much as we love Guillermo, he utility was essentially limited to being a fantastic mascot. Woods is a bit surprising because he has a high octane fastball and looked to be a relief option for the Braves, but command issues and injuries cost him his spot it looks like. Do not be surprised if a team snatches him up.