Twins Draft Braves Lefthander in Rule 5 Draft

Earlier this morning, the Twins selected LHP Scott Diamond from the Atlanta Braves in the Rule 5 Draft. If you don’t know how this works, all players that were not on a 40-man roster and meet either one of these two criteria:

a) were signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization for 4 years

b) were signed at age 18 or older and have been in the organization for 5 years

If Team A drafts a player from Team B, then Team A pays Team B $50,000 and has to put the drafted player on their 25-man roster for the entire season. If Team A chooses to remove the player from the 25-man roster, then he is offered back to Team B in exchange for $25,000. If Team B refuses to take back the player, then he becomes a free agent. Also, the teams could work out a trade that allows Team A to send the player to the minor leagues without having to offer him back. The most notable player that the Twins have taken in the Rule 5 Draft is Johan Santana, when he was claimed from the Houston Astros by the Florida Marlins in 1999, and then subsequently traded to the Twins in exchange for the Twins’ Rule 5 pick.

What can we expect from Diamond? In the Braves organization, he was primarily used as a starter and he’s had success at every level. He’s never had an ERA over 3.52, and he doesn’t give up many home runs. His strikeout and walk rates are rather average, though, so he’s definitely going to be another pitcher that forces hitters to put the ball in play. If Diamond is a pitcher that induces ground balls, then the imminent trade of J.J. Hardy will hurt Diamond.

Although Diamond has been a starter in the minor leagues, the rotation is already full and the Twins are still interested in re-signing Carl Pavano. Since the only lefthanded reliever in the bullpen currently is Jose Mijares, the Twins presumably drafted Diamond with the intentions of having him compete for a roster spot as a second lefty in the bullpen.

Since he only cost $50,000 to acquire, this is a low-risk move by the Twins. It’s common for teams to select players only to send them back before the season starts, or work out a trade to keep the drafted player. The most recent example for the Twins was in 2009, when they drafted RHP Jason Jones from the New York Yankees, and then gave the Yankees RHP Charles Nolte in order to keep Jones in the Twins organization.* My point is that if the Twins like what they see from Diamond, but not enough to keep him on the active roster for the season, they could end up trading a minor leaguer to the Braves in order to send Diamond to the minor leagues.

* Since the trade, neither pitcher has performed well in the minors. We may chalk this one up as a trade that no one will remember 5 years from now.

Along with the 4 lefthanded relievers the Twins will inevitably sign and will receive spring training invites, Diamond will have some competition. I don’t expect him to make the 25-man roster out of spring training, but the Twins will like him enough to keep him around, so I bet the Twins will work out a trade with the Braves so they can send Diamond to Triple-A Rochester.

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In related news, you may remember that I was upset that the Twins didn’t add RHP Kyle Waldrop to the 40-man roster for fear that he would be selected in the Rule 5 Draft. Amazingly, he was not drafted by any teams. For a groundball pitcher that has had plenty of success in the minor leagues, I’m really surprised to see this happen, and I’m also curious to know why the Twins were so sure he wouldn’t be drafted, and why the other 29 teams didn’t show enough interest to pick him up.

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