The Nationals on Wednesday protected one of their nearly Major League-ready prospects from the Rule 5 Draft, selecting the contract of left-hander Ben Braymer from Triple-A Fresno.
Braymer, 25, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Nationals' No. 15 prospect. Washington’s co-Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018, Braymer got his first cracks at both Double-A and Triple-A this summer, excelling at the former and struggling at the latter.
He made exactly 13 starts at each:
• Double-A: 4-4, 2.51 ERA, 69 strikeouts, 21 walks in 79 innings
• Triple-A: 0-6, 7.20 ERA, 47 strikeouts, 35 walks in 60 innings
Combined, Braymer went 4-10 with a 4.53 ERA in 26 starts between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Fresno. An 18th-round Draft pick out Auburn in 2016, Braymer posted a 2.28 ERA across two Class A levels in 2018.
By adding Braymer, the Nationals increased the lefty’s chances of debuting in the Majors at some point in 2020, perhaps in a bullpen role. The move also means Washington decided to leave six Rule 5-eligible prospects unprotected: No. 13 prospect Sterling Sharp, No. 21 Steven Fuentes, No. 22 Malvin Pena, No. 25 Gilbert Lara, No. 27 Telmito Agustin and No. 28 Jhonatan German. None have appeared above Double-A.
Sharp, who has one of the Minors’ top sinkers, lost nearly three months to an oblique injury in 2019. But the 24-year-old right-hander impressed when healthy, pitching to a 3.99 ERA over nine starts for Harrisburg and a 1.50 mark in six Arizona Fall League starts. All told, Sharp allowed one home run in 2019 across 82 2/3 innings and four development levels, including the AFL.
The Rule 5 Draft is Dec. 12, and the deadline to add eligible prospects to the 40-man roster to shield them the Draft was Wednesday. Washington now has 31 players on its 40-man roster, and a host of veteran free agents must either be re-signed or replaced this winter.