Well, it doesn’t get nearly as much coverage as the NFL Draft, NBA Draft or even the NBA Draft Lottery, but the 2014 MLB Draft is finally upon the Atlanta Braves. While most fans might not eagerly await this 40-round behemoth, the baseball junkies out there (I’m raising my hand) have been itching for this day.
For those of you who might not be able to drop Braves farm system knowledge on a whim, we’re going to go through the main things to know and look out for in this year’s First-Year Player Draft.
Before we jump into the players and mocks, here are the times and draft schedule:
June 5 (Thursday)
- 6:00 p.m. Draft preview show (MLB Network and MLB.com)
- 7:00 p.m. Rounds 1, Comp A, 2 and Comp B (MLB Network and MLB.com)
June 6 (Friday)
- 12:30 p.m. Draft preview show (MLB.com)
- 1:00 p.m. Rounds 3-10 (MLB.com)
June 7 (Saturday)
- 1:00 p.m. Rounds 11-40 (MLB.com)
For the sake of space, I’ll link you to MLB’s draft order page, but if you don’t want to go look at that you should be fine knowing that the Braves have these picks:
- Round 1: pick 32
- Round 2: pick 66
- Round 3: pick 102
- Rounds 4-40: 28th pick of the round
Farm System Overview
The Atlanta Braves have had a fairly thin farm system over the past few years thanks to the many players who have graduated to the major league team and also a couple different trades. This isn’t a bad thing, the farm is doing exactly what it’s meant to do, but if the Braves want to continue leading their division replenishing the farm system is as sure a bet as anything.
In Baseball America’s 2014 Prospect Handbook, they ranked Atlanta’s system as the 26th most talented in the league.
The biggest hole at the moment is clearly in the “impact bats” department–particularly among outfield players–as the organization has made a habit of drafting toolsy, athletic, defensive type players over big bats. In fact, not a single outfielder made Baseball America’s Atlanta Braves Top 10 Prospects list. Just four outfielders are on the top 30 list.
After the outfield, left-handed pitching depth is probably the next weakest area in the organization with the promotion of Alex Wood and the terrible season that Sean Gilmartin hand coupled with the fact that there aren’t many other southpaws in system. Gilmartin is the highest ranking lefty in the system (No. 10) and after that the only left-handed pitcher in the top 30 is Luis Merejo at No. 26.
Mock Draft Selections
The Braves are in on Adams in particular and prep lefthanded pitching in general, but they also have recently emerged as a potential suitor for prep bats such as Chavis and Forbes.
Most of Atlanta’s targets appear to hail from the Southeast, with Chavis and Wall the strongest possibilities. Others include Griffin, Adams and Gettys.
While Keith Law doesn’t have a projected pick for the Atlanta Braves in his mock draft, he does note that the Braves have been linked to Cole Tucker, Braxton Davidson and a many Georgia prep players.
We’ll quickly go through some of these prospects to get an idea of what the team would be getting if any of these players were actually drafted by Frank Wren and company.
Ti’quan Forbes: While some were surprised that Forbes is mocked to the Braves, he seems like the status quo of recent Atlanta selections. If a team is taking Forbes they are taking the potential and projection that Forbes offers, as one of the more talented and athletic players in the draft. At 6-3, 180-pounds Forbes is expected to add strength that could improve his game power, but is also expected to move him off of shortstop. He’s supposed to be a plus-runner, but there are questions about his arm, which could limit him to second base or center field. One of the younger players in the draft, Forbes has a lot of projectibility and upside, but he’s far from a sure thing–especially at the plate.
Michael Chavis: In some regards Chavis is the opposite of Forbes. At 5-10, 190-pounds, he doesn’t offer a ton of projection, but he does bring one of the better prep bats to the table. He already brings plus raw power to the table thanks to a quick, smooth stroke and has done well against showcase competition. Like Forbes, Chavis will probably move off of shortstop in the future and settle in at third, second or even catcher. While teams drafting Forbes as definitely betting on the upside and potential he offers, Chavis will be drafted for his bat.
Braxton Davidson: Braxton Davidson is a 6-1, 210-pound first baseman/outfielder from Roberson HS, N.C., committed to play for Mike Fox at UNC. He brings plus power and a plus hit tool to the table and a good thing too, because he’s thought to be a poor defender and below-average runner. He’ll definitely need to make strides defensively if he wants to become a good major league player, and where Chavis at least offers some versatility in the field, it looks like Davidson is a player teams will try to hide in the field.
Since no one can accurately predict an entire first round, it’s always a good idea to have a few (or a lot) of other guys that you are keeping an eye on. Here are some players who have been mocked in earlier versions, are ranked around the Braves first pick and some guys that I think would be steals at No. 32.
- Spencer Adams, RHP: Ranked No. 23 overall by BA, Adams is my personal favorite in this draft because of his solid mix of pitches that includes a plus-fastball and slider, his athleticism, delivery and physical projection. He’s definitely got the talent to be a top-of-the-rotation arm, but he’s unlikely to last until 32. If he does, the Braves need to grab him.
- Foster Griffin, LHP: Ranked No. 27 overall, Griffin was mocked to the Braves by John Manuel three times before the fourth version of his mock draft. Griffin would help with the left-handed depth in the system, but he doesn’t offer the same upside as some of the other prep pitchers in this draft and he reads a lot like Sean Gilmartin to me–which is obviously a bit scary. However, he has been compared to Cole Hamels and his stuff appears to be a bit better than Gilmartin’s was.
- Monte Harrison, OF: Ranked No. 20 overall, Harrison should definitely be considered a pipe dream for Atlanta at 32. I just couldn’t help but throw him in here because he is the best athlete in the class and would finally give the Braves an impact outfield prospect.
- Derek Hill, OF: Ranked No. 22 overall, Hill is only slightly less of a pipe dream than Harrison. He’s a fantastic defender in center field and brings plus speed to the table as well. His bat would be a bigger project than Harrison’s would be, but he would still be an outfield prospect Atlanta fans would love to have.
- Kodi Medeiros, LHP: Ranked No. 32 overall, I actually would be much happier with Medeiros than Griffin. He’s smaller and scouts have questioned whether or not he can stick in the rotation, but he’s got fantastic stuff and a higher ceiling than Griffin in my opinion. His fastball, breaking ball combination makes a good argument for the best pair of prep pitches in the class and with some time refining his game could be No. 2 or 3 arm. His fastball sits in the low 90′s and tops out around 95 with plus late run and sink, and was apparently one of the more notorious pitches on the showcase circuit. BA says that his slider is “at least a plus pitch” as well. Given Atlanta’s reputation and history developing pitchers, this match could be perfect for both sides.
For more coverage of the Atlanta Braves in the 2014 MLB Draft, be sure to follow us on twitter (@ATLBeatBlog) and check back tonight for our live coverage of the draft. You can also consider following Fletcher Keel (@FletchTopper), Brad Rowland (@BTRowland) and myself (CarlosACollazo) for updates and thoughts throughout the day and night.