Braves lose Graham but pick Winkler

J.R. Graham will have a chance to make the Minnesota Twins big league roster.

The Braves lost pitcher J.R. Graham to the Minnesota Twins but picked up pitcher Dan Winkler from the Colorado Rockies in Thursday’s Rule V Draft.
Graham was the Braves fourth round pick in 2011 and almost instantly became a top prospect. He made 26 starts in 2012 between Lynchburg and Mississippi and had a 2.80 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 148 innings.

But Graham developed shoulder trouble and struggled in 2013 and last season. He made only eight starts in 2013 before being shut down. Then last year he had a 5.55 ERA in Mississippi in 27 games (19 starts).

Winkler is a 6-1, 200-pound right-handed pitcher who turns 25 on February 2. He was drafted by the Rockies out of Central Florida in the 20th round of the 2011 draft.

Last season for Double-A Tulsa, Winkler had a 5-2 record with a 1.41 ERA in 12 games (all starts). He allowed only 33 hits in 70 innings, with 17 walks and 71 strikeouts. But then Winkler had Tommy John surgery in June.

The Braves will keep Winkler on the major league disabled list all season. Then he’ll have to be on the 25-man roster for at least 90 days the next season or be offered back to the Rockies.

Atlanta also selected catcher Steven Rodriguez from the Diamondbacks in the minor league phase of the draft. He will likely play in either Mississippi or Gwinnett next season.

There were rumors Gwinnett starting pitcher Cody Martin might be selected in the Rule V Draft, but the Braves avoided losing Martin. He will probably be back in the Gwinnett rotation in 2015.

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