Today’s the day or rather tonight’s the night it starts, the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft. For months we’ve been going over projections and watching prospects stock rise and fall. Tonight we find out what the projections of the only ones who matter, the GMs and their scouting staff. Our focus is of course the Braves draft and how we look to rebuild a thin minor league system.
All teams have a scouting/drafting philosophy but few have one as engrained as the Braves draft mantra; draft pitching and trade for the rest. As I wrote back in 2012, this philosophy goes all the way back to 1967 and Bill Wight. Of course it isn’t that simple but essentially it boils down to:
- Take the best player available regardless of position but we’d really like a pitcher
- If the two players were valued equally always choose the pitcher
- If there’s an eye-popping prospect it’s okay to take him unless there’s an eye popping pitching prospect there too
- If you have pitching you can get other players
Today the ability to trade pitching is more important but also harder to decide to do yet the philosophy is still sound. Getting an inside track on a top prospect no one else knows about is impossible with the media swirl around kids all the way down to the little league level. The added concern of future elbow surgery also factors in to the decision making as does ;payroll and slot money. The Braves draft slot allocation for their first pick this year is $1.075M. going over slot costs the team money in the form of a fine so they will try not to do that.
There is a myth that the Braves always draft local players given the chance and regardless of relative talent. That may appear to be the case but numbers don’t support that view. Yet as you’ll see if you follow some of the links and read their rationale, there are plenty out there who base their choice on that alone. If two players are relatively equal and they fit into the Braves plans then a local prospect who likely grew up wanting to be a Brave and will bring a home town following is probably going to get preference. However when they make their choice whether the prospect hails from Braves country (loosely defined as the SE US) in a minor concern. With that background here’s a look at the best guess projections from around the blogs and major sites.
What the experts (?) think
The table is straight forward and only shows projection that are current.
|Projection From||Player / BA RK||Position||From||Proj Date|
|My MLB Draft||Forest Wall / 34||2B||Orangewood Christian HS (FLA)||6/4/2014|
|MLB Draft Insider||Spencer Adams / 23||RHP||White County HS (Ga.)||6/5/2014|
|ESPN-Keith Law||Spencer Adams||RHP||White County HS (Ga.)||6/5/2014|
|ESPN-Keith Law||Cole Tucker / 84||SS/3B||Mountain Pointe HS, Phoenix||6/3/2014|
|ESPN-Keith Law||Braxton Davidson / 35||OF/1B||T.C. Roberson HS, Asheville, N.C.||6/4/2014|
|Grading on the Curve||Michael Gettys / 40||OF||Gainesville (Ga.) HS||5/29/2014|
|USA Today||Michael Gettys||OF||Gainesville (Ga.) HS||6/3/2014|
|Baseball in the blood||Michael Gettys||OF||Gainesville (Ga.) HS||5/30/2014|
|Throught the Fence Baseball||Michael Gettys||OF||Gainesville (Ga.) HS||6/4/2014|
|Draft Site.com||Michael Gettys||OF||Gainesville (Ga.) HS||6/5/2014|
|College Baseball Central||Michael Gettys||OF||Gainesville (Ga.) HS||6/3/2014|
|The Foul Language||Michael Gettys||OF||Gainesville (Ga.) HS||5/29/2014|
|Minor League Ball – John Sickles||Kodi Medeiros /32||LHP||Hawaii HS||6/1/2014|
|Jon Heyman CBS Sports||Michael Chavis / 26||3B||Marietta (Ga.) Sprayberry HS||6/4/2014|
|Perfect Game||Michael Chavis||3B||Marietta (Ga.) Sprayberry HS||6/4/2014|
|MLB.Com Jim Callis||Michael Chavis||3B||Marietta (Ga.) Sprayberry HS||6/5/2014|
|MLB.Com John Mayo||Erick Fredde / 24||RHP||UNLV||5/30/2014|
|Baseball America John Manuel||Ti’quan Forbes / 46||SS||Columbia (Miss.) HS||6/1/2014|
|Beisbols Blog||Foster Griffin / 27||LHP||First Academy HS (FL)||6/4/2014|
|Scouting Baseball||Foster Griffin||LHP||First Academy HS (FL)||5/30/2014|
|MLB Draft Tracker||Mac Marshall / 57||LHP||Parkview HS (GA)||5/30/2014|
Looking at the list you can see that Keith Law just can’t make up his mind. For the rest here’s my view.
Good choices who won’t get to the 32nd pick; Spenser Adams, Michael Chivas.
Choices that worry me: Michael Gettys, Erick Fredde. There are a lot of folks looking for Gettys but his hit tool may never be what it needs to be and has been called a work in progress. Fredde is another who probably won’t get as far as the 32nd pick even with his TJ surgery lowering his stock. If he does I’d pass anyway based on that TJ. I know they took Jason Hursh last year but his situation was different
Good ideas for round two: Cole Tucker, Mac Marshall.
Not a fit: Braxton Davidson has power but no position. he’s described as an outfielder who will move to first base and has fielding concerns. Sounds like a DH to be and I wouldn’t draft a one tool player. For every David Ortiz there are 100 Steve Balboni’s.
From this list that leaves Foster Griffin and Forrest Wall.
Baseball America (subscription required for the scouting report) say that “. . .Griffin presents a nice blend of present stuff, strike-throwing ability and projection. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder has an ideal pitcher’s build that is made to handle innings and has drawn physical comparisons to Cole Hamels. His fastball sits 88-92 mph, touching 94 with glove-side run and downhill plane, and he’s capable of getting his fastball under the hands of right handed hitters.” I’ve also heard John Mayo compare him to Steve Carlton. That’s good enough for me. Sign him.
Under the same link BA describes Wall like this. “. . .Wall has played second base because of a well below-average throwing arm following labrum surgery in November 2011. . .(he) does have athletic actions and defensive aptitude with his glove. The lefthanded hitter is one of the best pure hitters in the draft class, a potential 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He has an all-fields approach and supreme contact ability. Wall also has above-average raw power, and his contact frequency could allow him to reach that power potential. He is a plus runner who regularly posts 70 run times to first base, and his speed could make an impact on the bases and perhaps move to center field.” I like all of that but his arm worries me anywhere but second. If they believe that it can be good enough for center the rest of his tools get a thumbs up.
Other names I’d look for include Justus Sheffield (LHP), Monte Harrison (OF) – everyone thinks the Pirates will take him but in a pitching rich draft they should grab pitching – and Alex Blandino currently a 3B.
That’s A Wrap
The Braves draft this year will be interesting to watch. I’m hoping that Harrison drops to us and that we pick up at least one of the three lefties but it all depends on what other teams do ahead of us. We’ll be running an open chat thread during the draft this evening. Stop by and let us know what you think of the proceedings. Tomorrow we’ll go over their choice and look ahead to the coming rounds.