Friday, December 10, 2021
With the MLB portion of this year’s Rule 5 Draft currently on hold due to a lockout, the minor leagues went ahead with its draft on Wednesday as a total of 51 players came off the board, including four that were chosen by the Braves.
With the first pick in the draft, the Orioles selected righty Nolan Hoffman no. 1 – a 24-year-old, former fifth-round pick by Seattle in 2015. Hoffman, pitching for the Mariner’s Single-A and High-A clubs, posted a 3.74 ERA in 51 combined innings in the minors in 2021.
Later in the first-round, at pick no. 6, the Rockies selected lefty Gabriel Rodriguez – an unprotected Braves minor leaguer. In Atlanta’s system, Rodriguez – a 31st-round pick in 2018 – had just gotten a taste of full-season ball this past season, making 26 relief appearances and one start, on his way to an 8.44 ERA with Single-A Augusta. The southpaw will enter his age-23 season looking to rebound in 2022, though as a 19-year-old in 2019, Rodriguez posted strong numbers with the Braves GCL team (rookie ball) during his pro debut, maintaining a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings. Rodriguez is a solid player, but given the Braves incredible pitching depth, his departure isn’t too significant.
And to keep with the trend, the Braves picks on Wednesday mainly consisted of arms as three of the team’s four selections were right-handed pitchers:
RD 1, PICK 15 – John Nogowski, 1B (from SFG)
RD 2, PICK 9 – Luis De Avila, RHP (from KCR)
RD 3, PICK 4 – Allan Winans, RHP (from NYM)
RD 4, PICK 3 – Tanner Andrews, RHP (from MIA)
Nogowski is entering his age-29 season in 2022 and has played with four different organizations during his pro career, which began in 2014 when he was drafted in the 34th round by the Athletics. Back in 2020, Nogowski made his MLB debut with the Cardinals but only played in one game. The first baseman was on the move plenty in 2021, starting the year with St. Louis before moving to the Pirates and then to the Giants. Negowski’s year was nearly evenly split between the majors and minors this past season as he hit .233 in 52 games in the big leagues and .211 in 64 minor league contests. This is a guy that has had some big seasons in the minors, most notably in Triple-A in 2019 when he hit .295 with 15 homers in the Cardinals system. Overall, though, Negowski is a career .233 hitter in MLB, with one homer in 53 games.
Of the three pitchers the Braves selected on Wednesday, De Avila and Winans appear to be solely bullpen guys. The former was the youngest player chosen by Atlanta (20-years-old) and only has 52 1/3 innings above rookie ball, coming this past season when he posted a 5.16 ERA with Single-A Columbia. The latter, 26-years-old, topped out at Double-A in 2021 and put together strong numbers there, maintaining a 1.65 ERA and an average of 9.5 strikeouts per nine in 27 1/3 frames.
Andrews, perhaps the only arm that could’ve perhaps worked as a starter in the Braves system, was traded on Thursday to the Giants for cash considerations. Of all the picks Atlanta made on Wednesday, I would’ve probably pegged Andrews as the one with the best shot of ever contributing for the big league team, which I guess is why San Francisco was interested. At 26-years-old, the righty was coming off a pretty dismal performance in Double-A in 2021, but the kid was excellent in 2019, when he posted a 3.50 ERA in 18 starts and five relief appearances combined for the Marlins Single-A and High-A clubs.
After Andrews, I’d probably say De Avila is the next most-interesting player off the board for the Braves. He’s still young, and according to his numbers so far, he has some pretty overpowering stuff, averaging 10.1 strikeouts per nine last year in Single-A, to go along with a history of low walk rates.
We’ll see how these guys perform in 2022, and hopefully one or two will surprise us.