Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Braves 2007-2011 Drafts (And Other Notes)

The 2012 MLB Draft starts tonight with the first round and supplemental round to be completed.  The Astros have the first overall pick, likely to choose Stanford RHP Mark Appel, pictured above.  The Braves only have pick #21 today, with their next four picks at 85, 116, 149, and 179.  This is also the first draft using the new pool system for each team’s picks in the first ten rounds, causing a bit of speculation and intrigue to this year.

The Braves have a salary pool of $4.03M for their ten picks, the fifth-lowest of all the teams.  The new system discourages teams from drafting players and signing them with an overslot bonus, really only a possibility for teams with multiple high picks.  At #21, there have been very good players picked: Rick Sutcliffe, Jason Varitek, Gorman Thomas, and Ian Kennedy to name a few.  Overall, about 1/4 of the players picked had relevant major league careers.  This just re-enforces the perception of how much of a crapshoot the MLB draft is.

After years of high school drafting under John Schuerholz, the Braves have shifted to a college-heavy philosophy the last three years.  Here are their 2011 picks:

Year Rnd OvPck Pos Type Drafted Out of
2011 1 28 Sean Gilmartin (minors) LHP 4Yr Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
2011 2 85 Nick Ahmed (minors) SS 4Yr University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
2011 3 115 Kyle Kubitza (minors) 3B 4Yr Texas State University (San Marcos, TX)
2011 4 146 J.R. Graham (minors) RHP 4Yr Santa Clara University (Santa Clara, CA)
2011 5 176 Nick DeSantiago (minors) C JC Blinn College (Brenham, TX)
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2012.

Gilmartin has done well in AA Mississippi so far, with an ETA around the middle of next year.  Ahmed isn’t hitting much at A+ Lynchburg, though he hasn’t been a black hole either.  Kubitza has been pretty good in A Rome, walking quite a bit and showing power, though the K rate is over 25%.  Graham has done well in Lynchburg so far, though his low K rate is a bit unsettling.  DeSantiago hasn’t hit at all yet, spending this season in Rome.

Year Rnd OvPck Pos Type Drafted Out of
2010 1s 35 *Matt Lipka (minors) SS HS McKinney HS (McKinney, TX)
2010 2 53 *Todd Cunningham (minors) CF 4Yr Jacksonville State University (Jacksonville, AL)
2010 2 70 Andrelton Simmons (minors) SS JC Western Oklahoma State JC (Altus, OK)
2010 3 101 Joe Leonard (minors) 3B 4Yr University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)
2010 4 134 David Filak (minors) RHP 4Yr State University of New York at Oneonta (Oneonta, NY)
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2012.

The first two picks of 2010 have been disappointing so far.  Lipka has not hit at all since leaving Rookie ball, and he’s also moved out from shortstop.  Cunningham is off to a nice start in Mississippi, but he has not shown much power and he hit around .260 his first two professional seasons.  Simmons is definitely the star of this bunch, already reaching the majors with his decent bat and great glove at SS.  Leonard is in Mississippi, also not showing much with the bat.  Filak is repeating at Rome after struggling there immensely last season.  Joey Terdoslavich was picked in the 6th round and Evan Gattis was chose in the 23rd round, a couple late sleepers.

Year Rnd OvPck Pos Type Drafted Out of
2009 1 7 Mike Minor (minors) LHP 4Yr Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
2009 3 87 David Hale (minors) RHP 4Yr Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)
2009 4 118 Mycal Jones (minors) SS JC Miami Dade South CC (Miami, FL)
2009 5 148 Thomas Berryhill (minors) RHP 4Yr Newberry College (Newberry, SC)
2009 6 178 Ryan Woolley (minors) RHP 4Yr University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, AL)
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2012.

Minor has been quite the see-saw ride, initially scrutinized as a value pick, then lauded for his great minor league performances, now back to negative with his horrible start this season with Atlanta.  Due to his advanced age, Hale is being pushed through the system, struggling in Mississippi after a mediocre showing in Lynchburg last year.  Jones looks to be busted out, now playing in the outfield and he was demoted to Lynchburg at age 25.  Berryhill was released last season and has not pitched this season in the minors.  Woolley did not sign with the Braves and eventually signed with the Tigers last season.

Year Rnd OvPck Pos Type Drafted Out of
2008 1s 40 *Brett DeVall (minors) LHP HS Niceville HS (Niceville, FL)
2008 2 64 Tyler Stovall (minors) LHP HS Hokes Bluff HS (Gadsden, AL)
2008 2 70 Zeke Spruill (minors) RHP HS Kell HS (Marietta, GA)
2008 3 96 Craig Kimbrel (minors) RHP JC Wallace State Community College (Hanceville) (Hanceville, AL)
2008 4 130 Braeden Schlehuber (minors) C JC College of Southern Nevada (Henderson, NV)
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2012.

This was another disappointing beginning to the draft.  DeVall experienced consistent elbow problems, resulting in his release before last season.  Stovall never harnessed his arm, walking too many people, and he was released after last season.  Spruill has progressed as a low-ceiling prospect, pitching well in Mississippi so far this year.  This Kimbrel guy ended up okay…  Schlehuber is hitting well in Lynchburg, trying to make one last push towards relevance at age 24.  J.J. Hoover was the only other player in this draft class to make the majors so far, while the Braves also signed Brandon Beachy as an undrafted free agent that season.

Definitely the best draft of the five, it started with Heyward slipping to 14th overall.  Gilmore was sent to Chicago in the Javier Vazquez trade, and is struggling mightily in AA this year.  Fields did not sign with Atlanta, ending up with Seattle the next year, not yet making the majors.  Freeman, like Heyward, shot through the system as a high school draft pick.  Hicks made the majors as early as 2010, but he is now on Oakland’s AAA squad.  Cory Gearrin was picked in the 4th round, the other player to make the majors with the Braves.  Brandon Belt did not sign in the 11th round out of junior college, and in the next round, the Braves drafted the pitcher who ended my college career, Nick Fellman of Minnesota State Mankato.

Overall, the Braves have not been particularly good or bad in recent drafts.  Wren has definitely leaned more towards college players at the top of the draft recently, something I would expect to continue.  As far as organizational needs, the Braves don’t really have any glaring strengths or weaknesses, though the farm system is probably a bit below average, now that almost all the young talent has graduated to the majors.  You really can’t read much into a team’s first pick, or even first five picks, because there is so much that can happen between tonight and their arrival in the majors.  I just plan on sitting back and watching in amazement the sheer ability of these kids.

Tags: Braves Draft FanSided

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