Draft Day 1 was interesting for the Braves fans. Please credit Graphic created by Fred owens

Braves Select Two On Draft Day one

After a long night waiting and hoping for a list of players that fit the vacancies in the Braves system, they made their first selection; Braxton Davidson (BA Rank 35), a first baseman outfielder out of Roberson HS, in Asheville, N.C.  The only projection that mentioned Davidson in the same breath as Atlanta was Keith Law’s final mock draft (in sider required) and that was as an after thought.

Who is Braxton Davidson?

This selection is clearly about his hit tool. Baseball America’s scouting report (subscription required) makes it clear he can hit. It also says that while the Braves drafted him as an outfielder, his best position is first base.

““. . .the left handed hitter has at least plus raw power. . . showed swing and miss tendencies on the showcase circuit but . . .has become a much better hitter, to the point that his above-average hit tool is likely better than his power in game action. . . (he’s) strong and quick to the ball, has shown the ability to drive the ball with authority to the opposite field. . . is an intelligent hitter with strong awareness of the strike zone. . . His well below-average speed limits him to a corner profile, and first base is probably his best defensive position.. . . (but is) best suited for left if he doesn’t play in the dirt.”

It appears that the Braves see him in the same mold as Freddie Freeman at the plate and that can’t be a bad thing. Davidson said he will sign with the Braves rather than attend college. Here’s a video if him at taking some swings.

Round Two

With the 68th pick the Braves selected Baseball America’s 54th ranked prospect RHP Garrett Fulencheck, from Howe, Texas. The BA scouting report says that  Fulencheck had a strong spring and has a quick arm and is a power pitcher with a heavy 89-93 mph fastball that has touched 95. He’s a groundball pitcher whose fastball appears faster because of its life, arm-side run and sink. His delivery isn’t smooth and he isn’t a strike thrower yet but when he misses it’s usually down in the zone. He also throws an average mid-80s slider  and a changeup that’s a work in progress. At 6’ 4”, 185 he has a pitcher’s build with long arm and legs and will grow into his body and get stronger as he becomes a full time player. He has committed to Dallas Baptist and hasn’t said whether he’ll sign. Here’
s some video of him throwing a one hitter earlier this year.

That’s A Wrap

The selection of Braxton Davidson took everyone by surprise. All night the discussion had revolved around hopes that higher rated players like Jacob Gatewood (BA Rank 21) and Monte Harrison (BA Rank 20) would fall to the Braves at pick # 32. As it turned out when the Frank Wren and company went on the clock  not only were Gatewood and Harrison available but so was Spencer Adams (BA Rank 23) and Sean Reid-Foley (BA Rank 19). So when they passed up two pitchers and a shortstop who put on a show at the ASG in 2013 by hitting home runs into the upper deck and is a very good defender for Davidson . . .well amazed is the best way I can put it.

The Fulencheck signing is typical of Braves secondary signings, a sinker ball pitcher that currently projects to be a back of the rotation guy but may grow into more. There’s no history of arm issues and that too has to be a factor following the recent epidemic of elbow and shoulder injuries ravaging baseball right now.

Teams pay little to no attention to Baseball America or MLB.com’s rankings when they build their draft board nor are they trying to fill immediate needs. They should be taking the best available player regardless of position. No one I saw or heard suggested Davidson was the best available first baseman or outfielder on the board though some did say they thought his hit tool was among the best left. Obviously the draft team believed this made him the best available player, but it’s hard to understand why.

Tags: 2014 Mlb Draft Atlanta Braves

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