The Atlanta Braves have a strong 40-man roster, with few spots glaring spots left to cut out when needed. The upside of that is obvious on the field of play, but the downside is the lack of opportunity left for prospects. The Braves don’t have much of an issue there, with one of the weakest farm systems of any organization, but around the Rule 5 draft there was inevitably going to be players left exposed for other teams to take. The Rule 5 draft allows teams to select players from other organizations to add to their 26-man roster, provided the player has spent the necessary time since signing without being added to a 40-man roster. For players who sign at age 18 or younger this time is five years, and for players 19 and older that time is four years. Once selected a player must remain on the team’s active roster for a full season or else they would be offered back to the original team. The Braves will not be players in the selection game, but there are a handful of names that are notable prospects that other teams have the chance to select.
The Braves added no prospects to their 40 man roster, which doesn’t come as a shock as there really isn’t anyone that stands a major chance of being lost. Jesse Franklin is the best of those left exposed, both from a draft position standpoint and current prospect status. Franklin was selected with the Braves’s third round pick in 2020, and despite already being ready for the Rule 5 draft he’s seen very little time in a Braves uniform. After showing off his power with 24 home runs in 2021 Franklin suffered a torn UCL early in 2022, missing much of that season and part of 2023. He struggled early in 2023, before putting up his best contact rates towards the latter half of the season. Still, strikeouts remain a problem and it’s unlikely a team will be willing and able to stash him on the 26 man roster all season. He’s not yet put up a good hitting season at Double-A, and he doesn’t provide much defensive value off of the bench making it a hard sell for a spot.
Pitching is the place teams are most likely to dip into in the Rule 5 draft, but with the increased usage of relievers in the modern game it has become harder to hide players on the roster. The Braves have few players that look like they could make an MLB push soon, with Luis De Avila and Tyler Owens standing the best chance of being selected. In De Avila’s case he was a minor league Rule 5 selection for the Braves in 2021, and has since put up solid numbers across three levels. In 2023 he spent most of his year in Double-A, putting up a 3.28 ERA across 123 1⁄3 innings while finishing third in the system with 128 total strikeouts. De Avila pitched one game in Triple-A, allowing one earned run and walking four batters across 3 2⁄3 innings. De Avila is the most likely player the Braves have to be selected, but even he would be less than 50% at this point. De Avila struggles with his command and lacks standout present stuff or projectability, and so it would be fairly easy to develop a similar prospect for the Braves. He has a decent chance to be a swingman-type, but is unexciting and will likely run into major issues in Triple-A due to his command. Thus, a team being willing to give him a major league run is unlikely.
Tyler Owens was one of a handful of higher bonus prep draftees in 2019, and while he struggled with injuries and the COVID layoff in his early career he began to hit his stride in 2022. 2023 saw him improve on that once again, and he now projects as a player who could make an impact out of Atlanta’s bullpen in the coming years. His command remains an issue, but he can get into the upper 90’s with his fastball and with his 5’10 frame comes at batters with solid spin and a low approach angle. Combine his fastball with a slider that flashes plus potential and Owens certainly has the mix to stay healthy. He currently still splits time between the rotation and bullpen, but his stuff and his overall injury history and size make him likely to end up in the bullpen. Owens had moderate success in 25 2⁄3 innings in Double-A this year, but his command makes it risky for any team to select him. He’s the most likely of the three mentioned to become a contributing big league player, but again given the usage of relief arms he would be pressed into action this year and it is unlikely he is ready for that role. While his stuff is solid he hasn’t ever produced gaudy strikeout totals, so a team would have to really feel they can unlock his potential in the short term to take him.
The rest of the field has next to no chance of being selected, and would not really raise concern for the system if they were. Javier Valdes had a solid offensive season at Double-A, but may not be able to stick behind the plate and is already 25 years old. Cody Milligan is a solid hitter and great outfield defender, but lacks power and spent most of 2023 injured. 2019 second round pick Beau Philip has never hit at the minor league level, and fellow Double-A infielder Geraldo Quintero has good contact ability, but lacks impact power and is a poor defender. Rolddy Munoz, Jared Johnson, and Jorge Bautista all have similar profiles on the mound as low-likelihood reliever projects who have good raw stuff but have yet to consistently harness it in game. Between those Johnson stands out as he can consistently reach triple digits and struck out 72 batters in 51 Low-A innings, but his highest level so far has been 13 2⁄3 innings in High-A Rome.