The Atlanta Braves protected five prospects today by adding them to the 40-man roster. Among them was prized catching prospect Christian Bethancourt and right-handed pitchers Zeke Spruill, Cory Rasmus, David Hale and Aaron Northcraft.
The move, which brings the total to 36 players on their 40-man roster, has a deadline of Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. ET to protect prospects in teams' systems. Players signed at age 18 must be added to the 40-man roster within five years and players signed at 19 within four years, or they can be drafted by another team in the Rule 5 draft.
The Rule 5 draft costs teams $50,000 per player and will be held Dec. 6 after the Winter Meetings. Players drafted in the Rule 5 must stay on his new team's 25-man roster throughout the regular season or offered back to his original team for $25,000.
Bethancourt is far and away the best prospect of the group, ranking as the second best prospect in the Braves' minor league system. He is regarded as a stud defensive catcher with a hose for an arm, though his downside is his bat, which is still developing.
Though he hit just .243 with Double-A Mississippi, Bethancourt's season was cut short when he had his left hand broken when he was hit by a pitch in August. He has since played 11 games for Licey in the Domincan Winter League, hitting .286 with three doubles.
Bethancourt's presence on the 40-man roster may also clear the way for the Braves to give him some Major League experience in April, which Brian McCann is expected to miss while recovering from shoulder surgery.
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