Braves prospect Cristian Pache.
Photo: Curtis Compton /
Photo: Curtis Compton /

Braves protect Pache, 4 others from Rule 5 draft

The Braves added five players to their 40-man roster Tuesday, protecting them from December’s Rule 5 draft. The deadline to protect players is Wednesday.

Outfielder Cristian Pache, catcher William Contreras, left-handers Tucker Davidson and Phil Pfeifer and righty Jasseel De La Cruz were added, making them ineligible for the draft.

Pache is the biggest name on the list. A consensus top-two prospect in the system, Pache is a defensive wizard whose offense has made strides. The 21-year-old is expected to open the season in Triple-A Gwinnett and debut with the Braves at some point in 2020. He was a no-doubt choice to add to the 40.

Contreras is the second-ranked catcher in the system, behind 2019 first-round pick Shea Langeliers. Contreras, the younger brother of Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, was a lock to be protected too.

The pitchers – Davidson, Pfeifer and De La Cruz – each possess some level of upside. Davidson was 2019’s pleasant surprise, earning a 2.15 ERA and fanning 134 across two levels. If he continues at his current trajectory, he’ll likely debut in the majors next season. 

De La Cruz, 22, is an intriguing arm after posting a 3.25 ERA in 133 innings at Single-A Florida and Double-A Mississippi. Pfeifer, at 27 years old, broke out in 2019 with a 2.97 ERA and 159:42 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 133-1/3 innings at Double-A and Triple-A.

The Braves did not protect left-hander Thomas Burrows, a 25-year-old reliever who had an up-and-down season but still boasts a slider that could make him an asset. 

If a player is selected in the Rule 5 draft, the selecting team pays his original team $50,000 and the player must remain on the selecting team’s 25-man roster for the duration of the season and be active for 90 days. If he isn’t, he must be offered back to his original team for $25,000.

The Braves’ 40-man roster, following the five additions and free-agent Will Smith’s acquisition, stands at 38.

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