Ah, yes. Its that time of year when we look at minor league systems around baseball and look at fringy prospects who were determined to be unworthy of a 40-man roster spot after toiling in the minors. Make no mistake about it, some very good players have been selected in the Rule V draft (Roberto Clemente, Jose Bautista, Jason Grilli, Josh Hamilton, and Johan Santana come to mind), but for the most part its just another method to fill out the last roster spots while also preventing teams from just stockpiling players in their system with no intention of giving them a shot on the big league roster unless they are decimated by injuries. But first, an introduction...
The Rule V Draft
The Rule V Draft occurs each year at the Winter Meetings and each team's draft position is determined by win-loss record just like the regular draft. Whats different is that the only teams that can participate are teams with empty slots on their 40 man roster. You see, once a player is drafted in the Rule V draft, they are automatically added to their new team's 40-man roster. That player must also stay on the new team's 25 man roster for the entire system (they can't be sent down to the minors) and if the new team chooses to waive the player, that player must be offered back to their old team at half-price (the price of each Rule V draftee is $50,000). Make sense to you? Me either...lets keep going.
The important thing is determining when a player is eligible to selection in the Rule V Draft. To be eligible for selection, a player must not be on the 40 man roster and either
A) Has been in the minors for at least 5 years and signed before they were 19 years old, OR
B) Has been in the minors for at least 4 years and signed after they were 19 years old
The eligibility requirements have changed several times over the years (the exemptions periods have changed up and down, etc etc), but ultimately the goal is to keep turnover in the minor leagues sustainable and manageable while preventing teams from stockpiling talent at the expense of the players' careers. Usually the number of players selected in the Rule numbers in the teens, but varies based on the number of teams with empty 40 man spots. Each team must submit their 40-man rosters by November 20th so we should know soon as to what decisions teams have made regarding their rosters heading in to the winter meetings.
Which Braves Minor Leaguers are Eligible?
It would be a fool's errand to try to predict each club's 40-man roster moves and then try to predict the Braves' interest in any given player. In short, if the player can hit or can pitch well out of the bullpen, the Braves will probably be interested.
However, what is of interest to us is which of OUR players could be selected in the Rule V draft. We are going to give you three groups of players based on type. One group will be guys on the 40 man who would be eligible and either are still in the minors and/or could lose their 40 man spot, the second will be players who are eligible but are likely to be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from selection, and then players who are eligible and are likely to just be left vulnerable to selection.
Currently Eligible and Protected
- Tyrell Jenkins
- Ryan Weber
- Joey Terdoslavich
- Daniel Castro
- Mauricio Cabrera
There are more players that fit this definition, but somehow highlighting how Freddie Freeman or Manny Banuelos are not getting selected seemed less than useful. This group highlights several different types of players. Tyrell Jenkins, for example, is on the 40 man roster and one reason for that being that the Cardinals knew he would be taken in the Rule V draft because they did not have the slots on the 40 man roster to keep him. Their loss, our gain. Ryan Weber and Daniel Castro proved to be valuable pieces to the Braves not completely getting swallowed by the Earth last season and will in all likelihood keep their roster spots as they vie for playing time next season. Joey Terdoslavich is essentially a part of the Braves' bench that just happens to play in Gwinnett most of the time. As for Mauricio Cabrera, he is on the 40-man roster as protection from the Rule V draft, although his status is more tenuous despite his cannon of an arm given his struggles with command.
Eligible and Likely to be Protected
- Mallex Smith
- David Peterson
- John Gant
Seeing Mallex Smith on the list is likely to get some Braves fans anxious, but fear not. There is basically zero chance that the Braves will let him get selected in the Rule V and he will be added to the 40-man roster by November 20th. The Braves have plenty of slots available (my count has the current roster at 29 players) so they can basically select who they want to keep. David Peterson is another player I expect to get the protection of a 40 man slot given the issues in the bullpen for the Braves, although it was curious that will all of the issues in the bullpen this season he was never called up (could have very well been a service time consideration though). The last one is John Gant, who was acquired from the Mets at the deadline. Gant has been excellent for Mississippi with a sub-2.00 ERA in seven games and while its not a complete given, I find it to be unlikely that the Braves would acquire Gant only to basically give him away for free in the Rule V. Also, this is the list of players that will most likely cause fans to inexplicably lose their minds once they are added to the 40-man roster. I can hear the "Mallex is on the 40-man roster, he is starting opening day!" comments coming now.
Eligible and Unprotected
- Sugar Ray Marimon
- Ryan Kelly
These are some of the players who are eligible for the Rule V and are probably not going to make it to the 40 man roster. The most likely candidate to make the 40 man roster is Ryan Kelly mainly because he is a reliever with a good track record in the minors, although his time in the majors did not good particularly well. As for Sugar Ray, both played in the majors this season and both played poorly. Its likely the Braves will just leave these players available for selection and let the chips fall where they may. There are some other players like Greg Smith, Cedric Hunter, etc whose contract status is somewhat undetermined so rather than speculate on whether or not they would be eligible this year or not, we will just make note of them here.