Whenever a team decides to trade for the rights to a Rule 5 selection, the cost is often reasonable: an organizational soldier, cash, or a live arm on the farm. The trade between the Braves and Twins brings a better return than usual.
The object of the Twins’ desire is Scott Diamond, another undrafted amateur signed by the Braves. It’s easy to try and force a Brandon Beachy comparison, but that would be off base. Diamond is a command southpaw who lacks a knockout pitch. The Twins’ decision to trade for Diamond’s rights suggests they were uncomfortable with the idea of throwing him into the big leagues.
Heading to the minors would probably be best for Diamond. He reached Triple-A last season only to see his strikeout rate dip (from 7.9 per nine to 5.3). On the bright side, Diamond’s strong groundball and walk rates remained steady (around 50-55 percent and under three per nine, respectively). There is a sizeable difference between fooling batters in the low minors and those in the majors and that could submarine any hopes Diamond has of becoming a big league starting pitcher. John Perrotto captured a scout’s thoughts in which the fellow suggested Diamond is, at minimum, a big league left-handed specialist. That’s not a bad floor for a lottery ticket to have, but Diamond’s upside seems limited.
As Kevin Goldstein wrote, Diamond possesses the attributes (command and arsenal depth) Minnesota values higher than most organizations. Evidently so, as the Twins parted with their 2009 second round pick and 12th best prospect –according to Goldstein’s rankings—in order to secure Diamond’s rights.
Billy Bullock is a large fellow with a hot fastball that can flirt with the upper 90s. Bullock spent half of 2010 in Double-A and struck out nearly 15 batters per nine. Impressive, no doubt, but he also walked six per nine. Bullock has the physical package you look for in a late inning reliever, the question is whether his control can improve –or at least become tolerable— once his strikeout rates begin to slip as he further ascends the organizational ladder. The Braves seemingly get the pitcher with the higher upside here, albeit the one with the lower floor too.
Rule 5 draft picks are not the typical grounds for a challenge trade, but the Braves and Twins are two of the best when it comes to developing players. If nothing else, watching how these two pitchers develop should prove interesting.