All right. I’ve talked about a lot of draft prospects. Now it’s time to reveal specific players that I believe Atlanta should target for the first three rounds. All players taken in these rounds should serve to fill a specific need in the organization, with upside that projects them to the majors within the next 4-5 years.
Let’s dig in…
1st Round… The Dreamy Wish ListFor this round, I will also list several guys I hope are still on the board – though admittedly this is not likely. If so, Atlanta should jump in.
- Sean Newcomb, LHP Hartford U. BaseballAmerica.com rank: 11. Mid-90′s w/command and decent secondaries. Because he’s a college pitcher and because the Braves are devoid of left-handed starters, this is a no-brainer if he’s present. But that won’t happen: baseballamerica.com projects him to go as high as 5th or 6th. That’s the breaks of having a low draft position.
- Sprayberry High School, Marietta, GA. BA.com rank: 26. Yep, he’s right here in our own backyard. Unfortunately, others have heard about him. Projects to third base with hitting. I expect he’ll be gone by the middle of the first round. Michael Chavis,
Players that should be ignored
Here are some guys that I truly doubt Atlanta would go for… though could… but shouldn’t:
- Casey Gillaspie (Wichita State). BA.com rank: 29
- A.J. Reed (Kentucky). BA.com rank: 41
These guys are big hitters, but are also first basemen. So while they could be available, there’s only two reasons to even consider them: (1) to hope for a future trade… and this is a terrible reason, IMHO; or (2) somebody in the front office thinks that the National League will go to a DH in the next 2-3 years. Both will hit a ton, and that’s helpful for somebody. Hopefully somebody else.
- Michael Gettys. BA.com rank: 40
Gettys is the opposite of the prior pair: he doesn’t hit well. And given other options, that’s enough reason to leave him on the board.
- Any of the top-rated ‘Tommy John’ pitchers.
Reason? It’s just too risky to blow 1/3rd of your draft bonus pool ($1.7m slot value out of a total pool of $4.55m) on a guy who can’t even throw for a year.
1st Round… Realistic Options… Selection #32.
- Foster Griffin, best LH prospect from Florida, high schooler. 6’5″, 200 lbs. BA.com rank: 27. Working on slider/change, but has command of everything and has been getting out a lot of showcase hitters. I wasn’t on board with him last week. I’m over that now.
- Spencer Adams. #2 player in Georgia, RHP, White County HS, Cleveland, Ga. BA.com rank: 23. I would prefer a lefty, but if those options are taken, then he’s still an excellent choice.
- Michael Kopech. Mt Pleasant HS, Texas. RHP. 6’4″, 195. BA.com rank: 37. Saw one quote: “He’s a project.” Sounds like a scout’s projection dream. Based on what I’ve seen, though, that ranking looks high.
- Justus Sheffield. Tullahoma, TN prep LHP. BA.com rank: 49. Excellent athlete. #2 player in state of Tennessee. Somewhere around 6’2″, 195.
- Cody Reed, Ardmore HS, Alabama. BA.com rank 52. Absurd 216K/17 walks in senior year; no hitter in playoffs. I also have reason to believe that he wants to be a Brave. Concerns: weight gain over last year (220 to 250). However, he’s 6’3″, so he can carry it. Velocity also increased notably for 12th grade.
- Carson Sands, North Florida Christian HS, Tallahassee, Fla., LHP. BA.com rank: 53.
- Mac Marshall. Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga. BA.com rank: 57. 5th in Georgia, though the top LHP in state. I am not personally sold on him for reasons of command.
Yes – all of these players are pitchers. The Braves have been linked to a few position players – notably Chavis, Ti’quan Forbes, Gettys, and Monte Harrison. In my opinion, the need is too great for left-handed pitching and that’s where I think they will go with this pick.
However: there is a monkey wrench involved.PHILOSOPHY: The Braves have a recent history of trying to draft ‘over slot‘ – that is take a first rounder who is a bit of a ‘reach’, but is also signable to a bonus that’s less than the recommended value for such a pick. In this way, they can afford to sign more, higher-upside players through round 10 (that’s when the bonuses end), rather than blowing the budget on a single player in Round 1 or 2.
Unfortunately, this means Atlanta could pass on a player like Griffin or Adams. Given the needs, I truly hope that doesn’t happen, but it’s fairly likely.
MY TAKE: Therefore, I believe that Atlanta’s target will be one of the players among the list of Sheffield, Reed, Sands, and Marshall. I would personally Cody Reed, as he has the best K/BB ratio.
2nd Round… Selection #66.
If any of the above players has slipped this far, then yes: by all means take them. In particular, I would expect one of that group Sheffield/Reed/Sands/Marshall to be available here. But if not… we will continue to engage in speculation:
- Matt Imhof. College LHP from Cal/Poly. BA.com rank: 58
- Jacob Lindgren, another older LHP from Mississippi State. BA.com rank: 50.
Because of the organization’s needs, taking a college pitcher here makes sense if a high schooler was taken in Round 1, as the timetable to the big leagues would be shorter. The reverse would also apply.
Other possibilities at this slot include:
- Best catcher available. But that group is thin, so if the Braves don’t go for Jakson Reetz (Hickman, Neb. HS, very good hitter, very good arm; BA.com rank: 62), then they could wait a couple more rounds before going in that direction.
- Ti’quan Forbes, if he falls to this point (not terribly likely).
3rd Round… Selection #102
If the second round was “speculation”, then this one represents “dart throwing”. I’ll just throw out some names, along with their baseballamerica.com rankings:
- Eric Skoglund, Univ of Central Florida LHP (102)
- Austin Gomber, Fla. Atlantic Univ. LHP (82).
- Jace Fry, Oregon State LHP (91).
- Taylor Sparks, UC Irvine 3B (87).
- Jake Cosart. Seminole State JC, Fla. a ‘genetics’ pick (his brother is Jarred Cosart): RHP (97).
- Jeren Kendall, Holmen Wisc HS OF (88). Top ranked player in the state,
- Kevin Padlo, Murrieta Valley HS, Murietta, Calif. 3B (153 – so possibly a later round unless Sparks is taken)
It will be interesting to see what the Braves can do without a lot to work with, as they draft very low in every round. Hopefully the scouts have beating every bush and combed every field. We will find out what they found on Thursday!