The Rule 5 Draft has really never helped nor hindered the Braves. They rarely select a player, unless they clear a spot on their 40 man roster before the draft they won't be able to select anyone this year, and the few players they do select tend to get traded away in Spring Training (Jamie Walker and Chris Spurling are good examples). They also rarely lose a player who isn't returned; Adam Stern, who was a part of a World Series Championship with the Red Sox in 2004 after being selected in the Rule 5 Draft from the Braves was the last player they actually lost for good and he played very little in the Majors, either during the 2004 season or after. So, in reading this preview it's worth keeping in mind that the Braves might not premantently lose any players through the Rule 5 Draft, regardless of what happens today.
Most Likely To Be Selected
Edgar Osuna, LHP: Osuna was recently named the 11th best Braves prospect by the bloggers here at Talking Chop, three spots ahead of Jose Ortegano, fellow lefty and good friend, who was protected on the 40 man roster. He's the epitome of a crafty lefty, working a fringe fastball with a plus plus changeup and pinpoint control. Of the available players, Osuna seems like the most likely to be selected, particularly with his success at AA Mississippi and the fact that he'll be just 22 in 2010. His stuff would play well if he were used as a situational lefty out of the bullpen and he could even make waves at the back of the rotation for a bottom of the standings team.
Matt Young, OF: Though he was named the top center field prospect by Talking Chop, Young didn't appear on the top 25, mostly because he will be 27 next season and has only played a handfull of games above AA. But, while he may not be an ideal prospect, he could be exactly what a team is looking for in the Rule 5 draft. He has absolutely no home run power, but he hits a fair amount of doubles and a ton of triples. He also steals bases, setting team records for Mississippi the last two years, and gets on base at an above .400 clip. Though his arm is below average, he has the range to cover centerfield and began his career as an infielder so a team looking to store him could find many uses for him off the bench. His inability to play right field, he could cover the ground but never make the throws, might scare some teams off, as might his inexperience above AA, but he could be an interesting, and cheap, option for a bad team.
Possible, But Unlikely To Be Selected
Barbaro Canizares, 1B: Canizares, who made his Major League debut with the Braves in 2009, recently passed through waivers without being claimed, making it unlikely that he will be selected, since teams oculd have had him on their roster without the limitations created by the Rule 5 draft. Things change in the course of a few weeks, so it's possible that a team could choose to take him and use him as a power bat off the bench, or even the right handed part of a platoon at first base or designated hitter, but it's more likely that they'll see him for what he is, a 30 year old defensive liability who lacks the power to justify being a DH and who wears down as the season goes on.
Brian Barton, OF: No stranger to the Rule 5 Draft, having been successfully plucked from the Indians by the Cardinals in 2008, Barton could be an interesting option for a team looking for a 4th or 5th outfielder. Despite only appearing in one game for Atlanta, he played well enough for Gwinnett to suggest that he could thrive off a Major League bench again, but, as with Canizares, it seems unlikely for a player who's already passed through waivers unclaimed to get selected in the Rule 5 Draft.
Erik Cordier, RHP: 2009 was Cordier's healthiest season and while he doesn't have the near 100 mph stuff he had when the Royals made him a 1st round selection, he still has a strong, live arm and he could intruige some teams as an option out of the bullpen. But, given that he doesn't throw as hard as he used to and that's he's had some problems with walks (5.5 per 9 innings in 2009), he probably won't be picked.
Kevin Gunderson, LHP: Named the 6th best relief prospect by TC, Gunderson's funky delivery could intrigue teams looking for a lefty out of the pen. But, he was fairly ineffective against lefties last season, allowing a .321 average to them. The fact that the Braves chose to protect Lee Hyde, a lefty who's barely been able to take the field for the majority of his career, ahead of Gunderson on their 40 man roster, is telling, and may be why he remains within the organization.
Ryne Reynoso, RHP: After getting his feet wet as a reliever, Reynoso has been a consistent starter for Myrtle Beach and Mississippi the last two years. He's an interesting player, but he doesn't have the kind of top notch stuff that teams typically look for in the Rule 5 draft.
Eligible, But Unlikely To Be Selected
2B JC Holt and 3B Van Pope both have AAA experience, but neither have hit enough to merit much interest. RHP Michael Broadway and LHP Tim Gustafson both have interesting arms, but netiher have the stuff or the petigree that teams look for. OF Jon Mark Owings is basically coming off a lost season because of a rotator cuff injury. and didn't show enough constistent contact to indicate that he could handle Major League pitching right now. OF LV Ware and OF Luis Sumoza are both too far away from the Majors to merit much interest.