As you have heard unless your living under a rock the 2013 Major League Draft begins June 6th. There’ve been a ton of mock drafts and last Saturday Chris gave you an idea of some of the names not often spoken of as Braves’ targets. Where will the Braves go for their number one pick?
The Braves Philosophy
If you’re a regular reader of the Take – if not sign up for the feed today some of these guys actually know how to write – you’ll have read my breakdown of Braves draft philosophies and past draft choices. If you haven’t you can catch you at these links.
- A Look At The Braves Minor League System – Prologue
- How The Braves Stock The Minors – The Draft
- Reviewing Past Drafts
- The 2003-2007 Drafts
If you want the Cliff’s Notes version, the signing of Bill Wight back in 1967 marked the beginning of the current draft philosophy as I wrote in December 2012.
In Scout’s Honor, Wight says, “If you get the long range pitching established, you’ve got the nucleus of taking a second division ball club into the (Sic) division faster than anything.” (Paul) Snyder (Wight’s understudy) took this parlance to heart, acknowledging later that he would opt for the pitcher if the two players were valued equally. Wight recognized that producing pitchers served two purposes. The Braves could use those pitchers to strengthen their own roster. But they could also use superfluous starters to fill other needs through trade. Also in Scout’s Honor, Snyder, while paraphrasing Wight, says, “[Everybody’s] always looking for pitching and if you have pitching you can get players.”
The other thing the Braves are known to do is draft near home; at least that was the theory but I could find no numbers so I did a quick check myself.and they do at least early on. Since 2000 14 of the 54 players (26%) drafted in the first three rounds were from Georgia with Alabama (5), Florida (7) California (5) and Texas (4) the most visited. So draft pitching and stay close to home unless someone knocks your socks off. We’re drafting 31st, 65th and 102nd, no sock knocking off players there. With the philosophy understood the likely pitching draftees are Marco Gonzalez, Hunter Green and Jonathon Crawford.
Lefty Gonzales has a high 80′s fastball with good control and started using a cutter on RHB but it’s slower than his four seam version. His secondary pitch is a plus change up. He has an average breaking ball. If you think that sounds like Sean Gilmartin you’re right. Gonzalez likely won’t fall this far but if he does I think the Braves will let him keep falling.
Odd fact I read somewhere, there has never been a player named Hunter drafted in the first round bit this year we could have four of them. I digress. . .Green is another lefty but he has more oomph on his heater; a 90-93 sinker with late life. He has an above average change that runs about 82 with fade and a slurve that isn’t really a curve or a slider. According to Keith Law he’s “. . .been wildly inconsistent this year, looking like a first-rounder some outings and a borderline prospect in others, making him a sort of lottery pick where if your number comes up, you get an elite prospect. . .he is extremely projectable, and a lefty with this kind of room to fill out who has already shown plus velocity is very intriguing, but he’ll need to throw more strikes and develop that breaking ball further. A 90+ lefty is right down the Braves alley so if Green falls this far he could well wear a Tomahawk this summer.
The only RHP in this short list, Crawford is a 6’1” Power arm with high 90’s heat and a hard breaking ball. He has a changeup and a curve he shows but aren’t ready for prime time. John Sickels, Minor League Ball: says, “Crawford…could become a number two starter if the changeup comes around…. I look at what Crawford is, and what I see is a reliever. ” Baseball America: says his 92-96 mph heater “holds that velocity deep into games” and that his Delivery is “less-than-clean” and he “struggles to repeat his release point” so he his command isn’t consistent. Crawford is closer to big league ready than the other two and has the biggest arm. so he would make a fine compliment to Alex Wood. in two or three years. Some say Crawford won’t fall this far others think his inconsistency will allow him to be there. If he’s there I’d take Crawford over Gonzalez or Green. That’s what the experts are saying, I of course have other ideas.
Off The Board
These guys are dark horses but have several things going for them. First they’re from “Braves Country – Mississippi and Louisiana – they’re pitchers that have big arms and they are not projected to take a lot of slot money allowing the Braves to draft more talent to fill out the minors with better players. Finally Frank Wren has gone away from the national lists to choose lower ranked players.
A 6’3” 200 pound RHP with a big arm drafted by the Indians in 2010, Wahl stayed in college. He was a Junior this year and a starter for the University of Mississippi. His 93-94 heater can touch 97 most days and has two solid average off speed pitches in his changeup and curve and he’s stayed healthy. Why would he drop this far; a sandwich or second round. Why? Scouts think his 1.99 ERA was helped by a good bit of luck. His 73k – 43 BB in 90 2/3 innings seems to indicate they have good reason. While he’s been healthy his motion has a lot of whip in it making it hard to repeat and raising the possibility of arm injury. Still he’s a big arm who would be inexpensive and arm injuries seem to be required these days.
Serrano is only six foot and 185 pounds, small by today’s standards and he’s a high school pitcher so he’s all raw talent. He offers a 90-92 fastball and he’s young so an improved delivery and strength training could raise that a bit. He has an average 80-83 slider with good bite and depth. His change will be average pitch with good late movement at about 78-80. He was raised by a pitching coach ( his dad is Dave Serano, pitching coach at the University of Tennessee) so he’s been taught the right way but that might also make him hard to sign as he’s committed to attend U T. He hasn’t indicated this would be a problem however and he reminds me a bit of a J.R. Graham type without the extra heat.
What About A Bat?
There are whispers that the Braves might go for a bat they rate highly instead of a pitchers. The usual names being floated are Tim Anderson, a shortstop out of East Central Mississippi Junior College and Travis Demeritte a SS/3b from Winder-Barrow High School (Ga.) I don’t think Anderson drops to us and while Demerette might, he’s a high school guy and so a couple of years farther away than some. Instead I could see the Braves moving towards getting a third baseman who’s closer to major league ready like Eric Jagielo a Junior at Notre Dame.
Jagielo’s slash of .388/.500/.633 saw him second on average and first in OBP and slugging. He had 76 hits – nine homers, 19 doubles and eight walks –scored 47 runs and drive in 53. He was Big East Player Of The Year and a Golden Spikes nominee. Both Baseball America and Perfect Game rate him the number one prospect in the Big East. He doesn’t have the power of Kris Bryant or the package of tools Hunter Renfroe brings (both will go very early) but he projects as a 20+ homer, 350 OBP third baseman with a plus arm and solid glove. I’ve seen him projected to go in higher up as well as but, if I’m picking a hitter based on positional needs and he’s available this is the guy.
That’s a Wrap
I obviously haven’t seen all of these guys so the opinions here are based on reading a bunch of different blogs, newspapers and of course Baseball America, Perfect Game, Minor League Ball and more. I credited those I quoted but mostly I tried to digest and what they said and apply some common sense in my predictions. Those of you who read me often (thanks to both of you) will know that our GM and my common sense don’t exactly mesh so it won’t be a surprise if he does something completely unexpected, he did last year. I looked at the pitchers likely to be there and really between 30 and 50 there are a bunch that look a lot alike – on paper anyway. There were no obvious aces left so signing a bat like Jagielo makes sense particularly when we have no viable third base options in the system. What’s your take, pitcher or hitter