Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Early Rule 5 Thoughts

We are still over a month away from the Rule 5 draft, but that won't stop us from taking a quick look. The basics of the Rule 5 draft are that any player who is not on the 40-man and fulfill one of the two criteria are eligible to be draft. 1) The player was 19 or older when he signed at least four years ago or 2) the player was 18 or younger when he signed at least five years ago. To simplify, college-age players who signed in 2012 or international/high school players who were signed in 2011.

The Braves have plenty of room on their 40-man roster after recent DFA's removed Todd Cunningham, Ryan Lavarnway, and Ryan Kelly among others. If you remove the soon-to-be free agents, I have the roster at 35 and 36 if Dian Toscano is finally re-instated. This includes guys that are on the 60-day DL - even Paco Rodriguez, who will miss all of 2016, but will need to be protected to keep him from being drafted this winter.

Here are some of the guys that will need to be added to the 40-man roster at some point before the Rule 5 draft or they will be eligible to be drafted. Spoiler alert, I don't see many. This list isn't exhaustive, but the guys who seem like good bets to garner some attention is pretty limited.

RHP John Gant - I missed this one before. Part of the haul the Braves got for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, Gant was on fire after the deal, finishing with a 1.03 WHIP and a strikeout an inning over seven games with Mississippi. He's not very projectionable, but could surprise some people and is a worthy of a spot on the 40-man roster if there's room.

RHP Ryne Harper - He was actually eligible last year. Harper's been stuck at Mississippi and has made 112 appearances there over the last three years, though it has nothing to do with his performance (2.17 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 10.2 K/9). Nobody went for the bait last winter so the Braves probably don't feel the need to add him to the 40-man this winter either.

RHP Tyler Jones - After flaming out in the Twins organization, Jones was excellent last season for the Braves and made his AA debut with 39 games, 16 saves, a 1.39 WHIP, and 10 K/9. He didn't allow a homerun all of last year and his WHIP may have been high only because he gave up a decent amount of hits (though that has been his M.O. during his career). Braves could add him to the 40-man, but I think they see the many other options as better fits.

C Jose Briceno - He had an awful 2015 and has not appeared above A-ball so the Braves will probably be safe not protecting him. A catching desperate team might consider Briceno, but Briceno's not the can't miss prospect you try to hide for a year on your bench.
Stacy Revere | Getty Images Sport

OF Mallex Smith - He'll be an easy keep for the Braves, of course. The Braves will probably add him in the days leading up to the draft. The only intriguing thing is what shape the outfield looks like by the time he gets added. Will the Braves have traded one or more of the veteran trio of Cameron Maybin, Michael Bourn, and Nick Swisher? Will Eury Perez, who is out of options, still be around? Will Dian Toscano be added to the roster? Without a move, the Braves will have six (seven with Toscano) outfielders on the 40-man, plus guys who might shift there for whatever reason like Adonis Garcia, Hector Olivera, and Joey Terdoslavich. That's a lot of depth to be centralized in the outfield.

As you can see, not a lot needs to be done here, though deals between now and then could muddy up the waters a bit.

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