One of the lesser known events that occurs during the MLB Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft. Essentially created to prevent teams from stockpiling players in the minor leagues forever without giving them a chance to compete and preventing them from seeking opportunities elsewhere, players become eligible for the Rule 5 draft if they have been with their current organization for 4-5 seasons (depending on their age when they signed) and if they are not on that organization’s current 40 man roster.
In some years, this means just adding a player or two (oftentimes a reliever) to the 40 man roster before the Winter Meetings, but the Braves had several high profile prospects that were going to potentially be available if they didn’t add them including Cristian Pache, Tucker Davidson, William Contreras, Jasseel De La Cruz, and others.
Some of these were no-brainers, but the Braves did have a couple of decisions to make with some of the pitchers and today, they made their decisions.
The #Braves today selected the contracts of OF Cristian Pache, C William Contreras, LH Tucker Davidson, RH Jasseel De La Cruz and LH Phil Pfeifer. Atlanta now has 38 players on its 40-man roster.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) November 19, 2019
Pache, Contreras, Davidson, and De La Cruz were always going to get added. All four rank among the Braves’ top 15 (at least) prospects and would have been snatched up quickly if they didn’t get protected (in particular Pache who is one of the better outfield prospects in all of baseball). Pfeifer is an interesting add simply because of the path he has taken to get here. Pfeifer had largely been a reliever during his time in the Braves farm system, but began starting games more in 2019 and he saw his stock rise significantly thanks to a jump in his strikeout rate that saw him fan 159 batters in 133.1 innings.
The only other players that had an outside chance of getting selected were relievers Brad Roney and Thomas Burrows. However, Burrows is coming off a somewhat subpar season and doesn’t really fit the profile of a high ceiling guy which is the type of player that normally gets picked in the Rule 5. Roney does fit that mold, but he also missed the entire 2018 season due to injury and as good as he was for the Braves in the minors in 2019 (1.94 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 41.2 innings), the Braves may be willing to take the chance that he gets selected given how their current bullpen looks.