Atlanta Braves Draft Day 3 review of selections in Rounds 24-30

Here’s part 3 on the Atlanta Braves Draft Day 3 signings. All of these players are unranked but have a tool that caught the team’s eye. Sometimes I wonder what.

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The Atlanta Braves draft strategy this year resembles throwing darts at a list of remaining players. Maybe they should have asked a pro like Rob Cross of England to throw the darts. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

There are six players in this post and, as before, I’m piecing together scouting information from multiple sources, including Baseball America (BA), MLB Pipeline, Perfect Game (PG) and the Baseball Cube — as well as schools and online news pages.

Some players have more data available than others; the farther a player is from the 500 best prospects I get, the harder it is to find anything.

As I get to the end, it’s possible all I’ll have is a name and school data.

For those you who want to see a list of every player drafted, I’ve included a link to MLB’s’ draft tracker.

We are now 23 players deep in the Atlanta Braves 2019 draft, yet surprisingly some talent appeared. Not much,  and it was scattered, but it's there. If they sign will it be enough?

Bryce Ball 1B Hits L/Throws R; 6'-6", 235; Not Ranked @bryceball_05

Round 24 overall pick 727 Dallas Baptist (TX)

Ball earned all-state honors at Newman Catholic High School, before moving on to North Iowa Area CC where he displayed a strong hit tool during his two-year tenure.

As a Freshman, he garnered First Team All-Region and All-District Team honors, posted the eleventh highest hit total among NCJAA Division II players.

He continued to rake in his sophomore season, leading his team in homers and continued to show superb plate discipline totaling 87 walks against 93 strikeouts in 470 PA.

NAICCGPAABRH2B3BHRRBIBBKAVGOBPSLGOPS
2016-175825320349852217524737.419.534.6401.174
2017-1854217170465011014444056.294.433.6061.039
Totals1124703739513533121968793.362.487.6251.112

Stats from NIACC

Ball played for the Lafayette Aviators in the Prospect League in the summer of 2018, appearing in 58 games, posting a .268/.399/.436/.835 line that included nine homes and ten doubles while walking 47 times and striking out 69 in 267 PA.

He ranked fifth in homers and RBI for that league and earned a spot on the Prospect League All-Star Team.

Ball Transferred to Dallas Baptist for his Junior year and earned a job as their starting first baseman/designated hitter and kept on hitting, something emphasized by his selection as National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Player of the Week for May 6-12.

. . . Bryce Ball . . .went on a tear to power the Patriots to a 4-0 week against Stephen F. Austin and nationally ranked Indiana State . . .  blasted five home runs in four games, finishing the week 7-for-15 (.467) . . .plate with a 1.600 slugging percentage . . . drove in 13 runs and scored seven times as the Patriots moved into a tie for first place in The Missouri Valley Conference standings.

YearGPAAB2BHRBBSOAVGOBPSLGOPSwOBA
20195424819712174447.320.435.6401.096.543

 

Ball led his team in walks, homers, and slugging, placed second in hits and RBI and fifth in doubles. He also led the Missouri Valley Conference in home runs, RBIs and walks.

Water’s wet, the sun rises in the east, and Bryce Ball can hit. He’s hit at every level and looks like he’ll hit at any level. Maybe I see something that isn’t there at a high level, but the young man walks almost as much as he strikes out, and produced at every level, leading his team or ranking highly as well.

He's calm in the box with a solid base, his swing looks smooth and under control, and his consistent home runs indicate there’s significant power.  I like him, could you tell?

Chad Bryant RHP; R/R, 6'-0", 210; NR

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The Atlanta Braves have too many pitchers like this gentleman, who walk too many batters now. Let's not sign anymore. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Round 25 overall pick 757 Pensacola State College (FL)

The Rangers selected Bryant in the 39th round of the 2017 draft, but he chose to attend Pensacola State  (JuCo) and try for a higher slot. Twenty-five is a higher slot, but his numbers suggest he should get more experience and try again.

His 2017 Perfect Game profile says he’s a strong young man who knows how to use his legs to generate power.  They describe his arm as “fast and loose” and define his arm slot as “high 3/4”.

He features 94 mph fastball with little movement aside from occasional unintended cut that makes it run in on LHH. His breaking pitch is a traditional curve that can be 10-5  or 11-6 with nice arm action. That’s a fair description of a good high school pitcher, but not one ready for the next step.

At Pensacola State, this season he made eleven starts and one relief appearance, tossed 47 innings of 6.65 ERA ball, walked 51 and struck out 46.

I have no idea why they drafted him. I’d advise him to look for another school and visit one of the multitudes of pitching academies that are found all over the south.

 

Riley King 3B R/R; 6'-0", 186; NR

Round 26 Overall pick 787 Georgia (GA)

King graduated from Lawrenceville Ga., who attended Collins Hill HS where he played four years of varsity ball at a third baseman and pitcher.  In 2016 Rawlings named him a Rawlings/Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American.

At that time Perfect Game ranked him the #4 third baseman in Georgia and #107 nationwide.

He moved to Georgia in 2017 and appeared as a redshirted freshman in eight games. This season he appeared in 56 games as their starting third baseman and posted a .307/.417/.470/.887 line. .383 wOBA, that included eight home runs, nine doubles and a triple in 255 AB, walking 30 times and striking out 34.

He played the last two summers in the Coastal Plains League and made a huge step forward at the plate in the 2018 season when he hit .306/.365/.406/.771.

According to The Red and Black, King saw little time his first year at Georgia and had knee and elbow injuries that hindered his performance  That changed in his first start of the season when he went 3-for-4 with three RBI; two of the RBI came on a 2-run home run.

Drafted as a third baseman King played some outfield for Georgia this year and seems to know his way around left field pretty well.

I doubt King signs this year, He’s had only one season and with good health over the next season or two and continued sterling play, could well earn a top 30 draft slot.

3 of 4

Indigo Diaz RHP R/R; 6'-5", 250; NR

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Atlanta Braves prospect Indigo Diaz reminded me that the late, great Duke Ellington wrote Mood Indigo. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

You ain't never been blue,
Till you've had that mood indigo.  Duke Ellington.

Round 27 Overall pick 817 Michigan State (MI)

Round 27 Overall pick 817 Michigan State (MI)

Diaz is a Canadian import who played his high school ball at Handsworth Secondary School. From there he played two seasons at Iowa Western Community College earning honorable mention NJCAA All-American honors as a sophomore

Diaz played on the United States NJCAA National team in the National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series. earned Northern All-District accolades and garnered recognition as First-Team All-Canadian Pitcher by Canadian Baseball Network

He pitched to a 54-7 record, winning 36 consecutive games to lead his team to JUCO World Series as District D1 Region XI champs

  • Freshman: 3-1 record in 16 appearances including two starts, 5.93 ERA,  39 strikeouts in 30.1 IP
  • Sophomore: 11-1 in 12 starts in 16 appearances with a 1.52 ERA, striking out 101 in 65.0 IP while walking 20
  • IWCC career: 14-2 with a 2.93 ERA and 40 K in 95.1 IP
YearTeamWLGGSSVIPHERHRBBSOWHIPERA
2017IWCC311620302720321391.585.93
2018IWCC111161206535111201010.851.52
2019Michigan242547444228529511.615.73
NCAA Totals  16657187139104599701911.253.81

Statistics from The Baseball Cube

Looking at the ERAs compared to others from that area could give you the blues.

In 2018 BA credited Diaz with a good fastball (88-92 mph) but unrefined secondary pitches. The video shows a high 3/4 slot that drifts down now and then, particularly in longer ABs, a slider he tends to spike and a curve or perhaps a slider that he released too soon.

The secondaries still need work; better mechanics would help. He flies open a lot and reminds me a bit of Winkler when he’s not locating.

 

Ben Thompson RHP R/R; 6'-5", 220; NR

Round 28 Overall pick 847.  Chandler-Gilbert CC (AZ)

Thompson is a native of Auckland, New Zealand who came to the U.S. five years ago to play baseball. He attended Foothills Composite High School in Okotoks, Alberta Canada before moving to Chandler-Gilbert, The video is old (2014), but it's the only one I could locate.

Thompson is a native of Auckland, New Zealand who came to the U.S. five years ago to play baseball. He attended Foothills Composite High School in Okotoks, Alberta Canada before moving to Chandler-Gilbert, The video is old (2014), but it's the only one I could locate.

He missed the 2017-2018 season with a torn UCL. He returned this season at full strength with a low 90’s heater and pitched well as the numbers below show.

APPGSWLCGIPHRERBBKK/9HRERAWHIP
11113225958352230538.0803.361.49

Stats from Arizona CC Athletic Conf

An article in the Calgary Sun says Thompson also throws,” one heckuva moving sinker.”  I don’t know what that means, but it impressed the Okotoks Dawgs baseball coach.

He told Stuff that being drafted wasn’t a complete surprise.

… but I wasn't sure it was going to happen and it might change the plans about university... It means a lot that an organisation (sic) of the stature of the Atlanta Braves think of me so highly, they've followed me from the start in Arizona. I'm ecstatic to get picked by them. They're a class organisation (sic)

According to the B-R Bullpen, the young man’s no stranger to big games.:

Thompson was one of five players 18 years or younger on the New Zealand national team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers . . . He was one of three pitchers New Zealand did not use in the tournament . . . had previously played for New Zealand in the 18U Oceania Championship

Thompson’s committed to Tulane and based on his history and a selection this far away from the big money; I suspect he’ll go to Tulane.

4 of 4

James Acuna RHP R/R; 6'-5", 180; NR

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You can never have too many catchers, so the Atlanta Braves selected four more. Mandatory Credit: Todd Warren

 

Round 29 Overall pick 877. Azusa Pacific (CA)

In 2018 Prep Baseball Report described James Acuna like this.

Tall, slender bodied righty. 6’5/180. Loose arm action, three-quarter slot. Average arm speed. Lands closed. Fastball 88-92 mph. Near average slider 80-82 mph with sweep action. Third pitch 83 mph changeup.

Tall, slender bodied righty. 6’5/180. Loose arm action, three-quarter slot. Average arm speed. Lands closed. Fastball 88-92 mph. Near average slider 80-82 mph with sweep action. Third pitch 83 mph changeup.

The video is his summer league work in 2016.

Acuna pitched primarily as a reliever for Oregon in 2017 and 2018.

YearAgeWLGGSGRIPERHRBBSOWHIPERA
20172011192172611010221.53.81
20182122197124433322311.46.65
Totals  33389297044332531.55.6

 

He also pitched in various summer wooden bat leagues from 2016 through 2018.

YearTeamWLGGSIPHRERHRBBSOWHIPERA
2016Conejo Oaks109113147606141.53.95
2017Bend Elks23753535211717271.24.37
2018Brewster Whitecaps0575202522181151528.10

 

Acuna pitched this year for Azusa Pacific, throwing 32 1/3 innings as a starter, striking out 29, walking 10 and allowing two home runs while posting a 2.51 ERA with a 1.146 WHIP.

Acuna is now 22 and back in school. He’s wasn’t draft worthy in the past, and he isn’t now. I doubt he even considers signing.

 

Mitch Calandra C R/R; 5'-11", 195; NR @mitchcalandra

Round 30 Overall pick 907. Eckerd College (FL)

The only video I found was his 2018 workout at the Baseball Factory. It’s worth a look.

Bio data paraphrased from Calandra’s Eckerd College Bio page

Calandra graduated from Floral Park Memorial High School, New York, where was twice a member of First Team All-State and First Team Long Island. He was also a two-time Conference MVP and twice won Nassau County Catcher of the Year.

He enrolled at Eckerd College in 2017 and was the first player in Eckerd history named SSC Freshman of the Year when hit .364, had 13 multi-hit games, including five – three-hit games and one – four-hit game and ended the year on a ten game hitting streak. His sophomore year was better

In 2017 Calandra, hit.343, led the team in RBI, tied for the team lead in hits, had a nine-game hit streak and a thirteen-game hit streak.  The 13-game streak included five multi-hit games, two of those a 3-hit games and one a 4-hit game. He also popped two homers and threw out runners in 10 of 17 stolen base attempts.

His Junior season saw him lead the team in hits for a second time, had 22 multi-hit games, swiped seven bases in seven tries and threw out 19 of 37 stolen base attempts. Just when you thought he couldn’t get better, he did.

His final campaign at Eckerd saw him produce the most hits, doubles, and homers in his college career while lowering his strikeouts and increasing his walks. Once again he threw out 19 of 37 naughty base runners. He also earned a slot on the ABCA/Rawlings First Team All-Region team and the All-SSC team.

YearGABRH2B3BHRBBKAVGOBPSLGOPSTB
2016321422449621711.345.373.437.81062
201750204337013021820.343.397.436.83489
20184919933659021517.327.385.402.78780
201950220478416161119.382.415.545.960120
Totals181765137268443115167.350.395.459.854351

Statistics from Eckerd College

That’s a wrap

This group takes us through Round 30 and includes a few that have a chance of making it.

  • Bryce Ball is a hitter. He has a nice swing and the look of a guy who will always get his hits.
  • Calandra looks a useful catcher, and without any actual throwing data, it sounds as if he’s a good catch-and-throw guy.

Thompson has the makings of a prospect, but I believe he chooses not to sign and attend Tulane instead. King and should stay another year and push his signing bonus into the seven digit range.

Diaz doesn’t appear to have the pitches to get good batters out. He and Bryant need to stay in school until they figure it out. James Acuna will have a nice career in sociology, whatever that entails.

Next: Nothing's ever simple

Ten prospects remain on the list. I hope to have that post out late tomorrow.