Atlanta Braves Draft: Day One Reactions

The first day of the MLB Draft has come and gone. How did the Atlanta Braves fare? Who did they take and why?

First Round – 3rd Overall Pick

With the third pick in the draft the Braves selected a right handed pitcher named Ian Anderson. Ian Anderson hardly came as a shock to those who had been paying close attention to the draft throughout the day as rumors began a few days ago and were confirmed early yesterday morning that the Braves had a deal in place with Anderson in order to sign him for an “under slot” bonus.

Ian Anderson stands at 6’3″ and throws his fastball in the mid 90’s. He was considered to be the 13th best prospect in the draft, according to MLB.com .

Many were calling for the Braves to take a bat, and with good reason. The current big league club is not hitting very much and there is not an abundance of talented bats rising through their farm system. You could have made a logical argument for drafting either Mercer’s Kyle Lewis or Louisville’s’ Corey Ray with the third pick.

However, the Atlanta Braves agreeing to sign Ian Anderson to an under slot deal would prove to be pivotal as the draft night wore on and shortly you will understand why. I love this pick for the Braves.

Lottery Round A – 40th Overall Pick

When the team’s selection rolled around at 40 it was pretty evident who they were taking. Another rumor had been started a few weeks ago that the Braves could have been speaking with Joey Wentz about possibly being able to take him, a first round talent, all the way down at pick 40. This is exactly how it happened and the pick could not have gone better for the Braves.

Joey Wentz is a 6’5″ left handed pitcher out of a Kansas high school. Last summer he made himself known for his bat, crushing home runs in the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, but he established himself as a mid-first round talent on the mound. Joey throws in the mid-90’s and has two above average alternate offerings in the mix along with his clean and repeatable delivery.

Once again a really great pick for the Braves here. They were able to select MLB.com’s 16th best draft prospect at pick number 40. The Braves would next go on the clock just four picks later at 44th overall.

Second Round – 44th Overall Pick

The depth of the 2016 draft was easily high school pitchers, as there were plenty of high upside arms in this draft to choose from. After seeing the Braves select two high school pitchers with their first two picks, the organization went back to the well again for their third pick, this time selecting Kyle Muller out of a high school in Texas.

Kyle Muller is another high school left hander with a mid-90’s heater. His other offerings and control are not as advanced as the other two players the Braves drafted, but he is 6’5″ and projectable. Making him MLB.com’s 24th best draft prospect .

Atlanta’s agreement with Ian Anderson to sign him for an under slot bonus allowed for them to be able to select two other high upside and highly touted prospects much further down in the draft than where they were expected to go.

The Braves were able to draft the 13th, 16th, and 24th best draft prospects with picks 3, 40, and 44. That’s amazing value and the money they saved selecting Ian Anderson was the difference. John Coppolella has previously stated how he envisions “wave after wave” of talented prospects coming into Atlanta for years to come. This is certainly a nice vision to have and one that could bring sustainable and winning baseball to the organization. However those waves are not possible unless you have as much highly touted talent as you can acquire.

The Braves got max value from their first three picks on draft day. Braves fans should be very excited by the draft so far.

Atlanta’s final pick of the first day was the pick they received in a trade with Baltimore a few weeks back, pick 76.

Lottery Round B – 76th Overall Pick

At pick 76 the Braves finally did what all…eh…we’ll call them “casual fans” were screaming for throughout the night. They selected a position player, or, rather more importantly, they selected a bat.

The pick was the catcher out of California, Brett Cumberland. Cumberland is a draft eligible sophomore and bats from both sides of the plate. He hits extremely will and can hit for a little bit of power, ranking 69th on MLB.com’s top 200 draft prospects list .

Coming into draft night, I was pretty sure that the Braves would target a catcher with their later picks (either 76 or 80) but Cumberland was not on my radar due to his reputation as a bat-first catcher. With the pitching staff the Braves are putting together I would have liked to see them select a catcher with a defensive pedigree and projectable (or more just “a project”) bat, such as Sean Murphy out of Wright State or, even later on in the draft, taken Jake Rogers out of Tulane who has been described as the best defender at any position in this draft.

Nevertheless the pick was Cumberland, and I understand why. The guy can flat out hit and he was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year for his excellent season. Most scouts see him moving out from behind the plate later on, but the Braves will likely put him back there until he proves he can’t handle it, or his bat simply outgrows his defense and he needs to move on from catching in order to make an impact at the major league level.

Brief Day One Reaction Summary

An excellent day for the Braves organization and fans. The team snagged three early to mid-first round talents with their first three picks and added a potent bat with their fourth. Outstanding value and hopefully they will be picks that pan out in the future.

If you take just one thing away from this article let it be this…the great first day of the draft by the Atlanta Braves was built upon the golden rule of drafting…

You Do Not Draft For Need

 

 

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2016 MLB Draft Predictions

As the season wears on more and more fans begin to look towards the MLB draft as a beacon of hope for the future of their favorite ball clubs. While it is still too early to know for sure where these players will land and who the teams will select, here’s how I feel the first three picks will go when the draft begins June 9th. Check in later for more draft predictions going further along in the first round.

First Overall

The first pick in the June draft is held by the Philadelphia Phillies, a team with obvious needs throughout the organization but, as a surprise to many, a competent team so far this season.

Many believe the Phillies will select arguably the top talent, high school left hander Jason Groome, with the first pick, however that may not actually be the case. High school players are hardly ever selected with the number one pick unless they are seen as a “can’t miss” prospect with superstar potential. Those players include the likes of Ken Griffey Jr, Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez, and Justin Upton.

Selecting a high school arm at 1-1 is even more unlikely for the Phillies, as there have only been two selected first overall since 1990, and one of them (Brady Aiken, 2014) did not even sign with the team that drafted him.

Teams tend draft safer players when they have the first overall pick, so that is why I expect the Phillies to select Florida left hander AJ Puk. Puk will likely be the safest pick at 1-1 because he possesses the best combination of a high floor and the upside needed to be the first overall pick of any player in the draft, basically saying teams feel like they know what they are going to get from Puk, and that is a solid big league starter with the potential for more.

Second Overall

The team that played their way to the honor of the second overall pick of the MLB Draft is the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are not in the same place as the Phillies, as they do not have a top farm system and they don’t appear to have the big league talent necessary to swap for promising young players.

The Reds should look to go with the player they feel is the best available here. The player who could potentially take more time than the Phillies’ AJ Puk to reach the majors, and thus will inherently have more risk attatched.

I would expect the Reds to select either Kyle Lewis or Riley Pint here. Both players offer tremendous upside but have equally concerning risk. Pint is a high school right hander who has touched 100 miles per hour and has been described as having the best arm in the draft. Lewis on the other hand is a college outfielder from Mercer that is crushing opposition pitching, batting .367 with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs so far this season.

I’ll predict for now that the Reds end up going with Riley Pint as his enticing arsenal of top of the line stuff will be too much for an organization desperate for elite talent to pass up.

Third Overall

The 2015 Atlanta Braves finished with just 67 wins, earning them the third pick in the MLB Draft.

Often highly touted here on the site, the Braves have one of the best and deepest farm systems in all of baseball. The only issue with the system is the lack of high upside bats, more specifically the lack of high upside bats closer to the major leagues.

This lack of bats has caused the Braves general manager John Coppolella to speak publicly about the organization’s desire to add a college bat in the upcoming draft, but Coppolella also stated that the team would take the best player available at 1-3.

So who is it for the Braves? Do they take the high upside college bat in Kyle Lewis? Would they rather take the best player available in Jason Groome? Or will they pick the safest player here in Louisville’s Corey Ray?

Lewis, as stated above, is crushing pitching but comes with a lot of risk due to some scouts’ concerns about his swing mechanics, lack of experience, and how he is striking out too much for the level of competition he is currently facing. He also plays centerfield and is viewed as a player who will stick there throughout his professional career.

Groome is considered the top talent in the 2016 draft class. A left handed started out of New Jersey who has already thrown a no hitter this year, across which he racked up 19(!!) strikeouts. He has the upside of a frontline starter at the big league level, but as high school pitchers go, he also presents a big risk. Also, with the Braves bevy of high risk/reward pitchers in the minors, the front office may want to go in a different direction.

Corey Ray leads off and plays centerfield for one of the best college teams in the nation in Louisville. He bats from the left side and provides an intriguing skill set of power and speed. The concerns with Ray stem from teams not feeling he has nearly as much upside as a Lewis and they also feel he will be forced to move over to a corner spot when he reaches the majors.

With the Braves’ history of selecting players in-state and the new front office not being afraid to go after high risk/reward players, I would expect them to select Mercer’s Kyle Lewis. Lewis may be risky, but his upside and athletic profile should be enough to convince the Atlanta brass to select him at third overall.

More MLB draft predictions are set to come your way in the following weeks so stay tuned, and as always, thanks for reading.