Atlanta Braves lose J.R. Graham in Rule 5 Draft, pick up Dan Winkler


With the Winter Meetings winding down, the 2014 Rule 5 Draft began today, and with that the Atlanta Braves lost a solid pitching prospect to the Minnesota Twins and their fifth overall selection:

If you have no idea what the Rule 5 Draft is, you can read up on it here. Basically though, the draft allows teams to grab players from other organizations who meet certain age/service time requirements and aren’t protected by being on the 40-man roster.

This year, for the Braves, Graham was an obvious candidate to be taken after he (for some reason) wasn’t put on the 40-man. In 2013, Graham was rated the No. 3 overall prospect for the Braves by Baseball America, but completely missed the top 10 this year after a rough 2014 season.

In 71.1 innings at Double-A last season, Graham put up a 5.55 ERA, 3.50 FIP and had a 6.31 K/9 and 3.28 BB/9 with a drop off in his fastball velocity. Most of that can probably be attributed to a shoulder injury he picked up, but concerns about his health and body likely led to the Braves leaving him unprotected for this year’s Rule 5 draft.

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The Braves had the 12th pick in the draft and chose to use it on former Colorado Rockies right-handed pitcher Dan Winkler. Winkler spent last season in Double-A Tulsa and threw 70 innings. He finished the season with a 1.41 ERA, 9.13 K/9 and 2.19 BB/9. His career minor league numbers are pretty solid as well: 3.35 ERA, 9.36 K/9 and 2.72 BB/9.

I don’t know much about Winkler’s stuff or the type of pitcher he is, but glancing at his numbers gives you a bit of hope. He’s consistently struck out batters at a high rate.

Here’s what Baseball America’s Vince Lara-Cinisomo had to say when I called out for help on Twitter: