When Scott Diamond was taken in the Rule 5 draft by Minnesota, it left the Gwinnett Braves with a hole in their projected 2011 starting rotation.
Yohon Flande may be the one to fill it.
The left-hander was signed by Atlanta as a six-year minor league free agent after not being protected by Philadelphia on its 40-man roster.
Flande, who turns 25 on Jan. 27, was 10-8 with a 4.38 ERA for Reading in the Class AA Eastern League last season. Those aren’t overly impressive stats, but he was rated as the Phillies’ No. 17 prospect by Baseball America going into the year and was 11-5 in 2009 with Advanced-Class A Clearwater and Reading.
Diamond was 4-1 after being promoted to Class AAA last season and figured to be a key part of the Gwinnett rotation in 2011. Instead, he will go to spring training as a member of the Twins.
Diamond, 24, wasn’t promoted to Atlanta’s 40-man roster and the Twins took the left-hander from Canada in the Rule 5 draft in early December. He must make Minnesota’s major league pitching staff or be offered back to the Braves for $25,000 — half of the draft price.
Diamond joined the G-Braves from Class AA Mississippi in July and had a 3.36 ERA in his 10 starts. He won his first four decisions and pitched a two-hit shutout against Norfolk on Aug. 30, striking out eight and walking one.
Atlanta did not make a selection in the major league part of the Rule 5 draft, but made two picks in the minor league phase. The Braves took right-handed pitcher Eliecer Cardenas from Minnesota and left-hander Rowdy Hardy from Kansas City.
Hardy, 28, pitched in Class AA last season and will be a candidate for the G-Braves bullpen. Cardenas, 22, pitched in Class A last year, also as a reliever.
Young puts up big numbers
Matt Young had his second straight banner winter in the Mexican Pacific League, hitting .358 with five homers and 24 RBIs in 45 games with Navojoa. The outfielder also drew 29 walks and had a .452 on-base percentage.
Young, 28, earned a spot on Atlanta’s 40-man roster by hitting .300 for the G-Braves last season and leading the Class AAA International League with 39 stolen bases. He and Jordan Schafer figure to complete for a backup spot in center field behind Nate McLouth this spring.
Mejia re-signed by Braves
After a season in the Kansas City organization, slugger Ernesto Mejia was re-signed by Atlanta and adds depth at first base in the organization. He will likely start the season with Class AA Mississippi.
Mejia, 25, hit a combined .276 with 16 homers and 69 RBIs in 114 games last season for Class AA Northwest Arkansas and Advanced-Class A Wilmington. His best season was in 2008, when he had 47 doubles, five triples, 21 homers and drove in 93 runs while batting .274 for the Braves’ Myrtle Beach team in the Carolina League.
Walbeck new Rome manager
Former major league catcher Matt Walbeck was named manager at Class A Rome. He replaces Paul Runge, who left the Atlanta organization to take a job with Houston.
Walbeck, 41, previously managed in the Detroit and Pittsburgh organization and was third base coach with Texas in 2007. He led Altoona to the championship of the Class AA Eastern League last season and was named manager of the year.