ATLANTA -- Unlike Patrick Weigel, Jacob Webb did not rise to prominent prospect status before his professional career was halted by Tommy John surgery. But now that these two promising pitchers have recovered, they will come to Spring Training with the same realistic goal to make their respective Major League
ATLANTA -- Unlike Patrick Weigel, Jacob Webb did not rise to prominent prospect status before his professional career was halted by Tommy John surgery. But now that these two promising pitchers have recovered, they will come to Spring Training with the same realistic goal to make their respective Major League debuts in 2019.
Weigel, Webb, catcher Alex Jackson and right-handed pitcher Huascar Ynoa were protected from this year's Rule 5 Draft when they were added to the Braves' 40-man roster on Tuesday morning.
Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.
For this year, that means an international or high school Draft pick signed in 2014 -- assuming he was 18 or younger as of June 5 of that year -- has to be protected. A college player taken in the '15 Draft is in the same position.
With the additions, the Braves' 40-man roster is at capacity, but a couple vacancies could open up by Nov. 30, when all teams must determine which of their arbitration-eligible players will be tendered a contract.
Weigel (No. 21), Webb (29), Jackson (27) and Ynoa (20) are all ranked among the Braves' Top 30 prospects by MLB Pipeline. The only Rule 5-eligible players from that list left unprotected were right-handed pitcher Josh Graham (28) and outfielder Travis Demeritte (22), who was not selected when he was left unprotected last year.
Here is a look at the newest additions to Atlanta's 40-man roster:
Weigel: A seventh-round selection in the 2015 MLB Draft, the 6-foot-6 right-hander rose to Triple-A Gwinnett in May of 2017 and underwent Tommy John surgery the following month. He posted a 1.21 ERA over the five starts that immediately preceded his injury. The 24-year-old hurler showed he was healthy while making four appearances for Atlanta's Gulf Coast League team this year. He recorded 220 strikeouts over 228 innings at three levels from 2016-17. He would have almost certainly been taken in the Rule 5 Draft.
Webb: Taken in the 18th round of the 2014 Draft, Webb injured his elbow on the first day of Spring Training in 2015 and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. The right-hander slowly made his way back during the second half of the '16 season and then started showing promise as he posted a 0.69 ERA over his final 13 innings for Double-A Mississippi in '17. The 25-year-old posted a 0.96 ERA over his final 18 2/3 innings for Gwinnett this year, he and extended that success while posting a 0.90 ERA over 10 innings in the Dominican Winter League. He's a quality three-pitch reliever who seems confident with both his changeup and curveball, which he developed when he ditched the slider after TJ surgery.
Ynoa: Given he posted a 8.03 ERA and was effective in just one of the seven starts he made after being elevated to Class-A Advanced, Ynoa is the most surprising addition. But the 20-year-old possesses a triple-digit fastball and enough upside to possibly lead a team to try stash him in its bullpen throughout the 2019 season.
Jackson: Just two years removed from converting from outfielder back to catcher, Jackson can still be considered a work in progress. Perhaps more concerning is the fact that the 22-year-old prospect has not lived up to offensive expectations since being taken by the Mariners with the sixth pick in the 2014 Draft. He hit .204 with three homers and a .722 OPS in 125 plate appearances after being promoted to Gwinnett this year. But catching is scarce and the Braves' only legitimate catching prospect, William Contreras, has not yet reached the Double-A level. So it is understandable why the Braves opted to protect their internal catching depth.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.