With the 2012 MLB draft fast approaching, now is a good time to take a look at some of the talented prospects available this year. While the draft may not be as strong as the 2011 draft, there is certainly talent to be had with the 21st pick.
This article previews four players that may be around when it is time for the Atlanta Braves to make their pick. These players may or may not be selected by the front office, but they are guys that I feel would be a good fit for the organization.
Two of the biggest needs that the Braves have are high-upside position players and speed. Mississippi prep outfielder D.J. Davis would be able to help fill both of those needs with just one draft pick.
Davis is a speedster with true 80 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, and is considered to be the fastest player in the draft by many. Just one look around baseball will show you what that speed can do, as Mike Trout has been a big story this year and Reds prospect Billy Hamilton has been causing havoc on the bases in the minor leagues.
Davis is more than just speed, though. Davis a player that appears to have a solid bat with the potential for potentially average power down the line, and he has already proven he has some idea of what he is doing at the plate by working opposing pitchers. His defense in center along with his throwing arm appear to be at least adequate as well.
Another reason that he could be a good fit is because unlike many other high-upside high school players, Davis is not committed to play at a four-year college next fall. The fact that Davis is headed to junior college will take away some of his leverage in contract talks with the team.
While I'm not comparing the two, Davis is a player capable of having the same type of impact as Michael Bourn. His speed and ability to get on base along with good defense in center could make him a difference-maker at the top of the Braves lineup.
Lucas Sims is exactly the type of player that the Braves used to love to draft prior to the last few years. He is that type of local prep arm with high upside that the Braves may have a hard time passing up if he is still available.
Sims has three pitches that could potentially grade out as plus pitches in the future, including a fastball that he gets up to 96 to 97 mph. Pitchers with three plus pitches don't come around very often, and when they do they are usually found on All-Star teams.
Sims is a kid that has some potential to become an ace at the big league level if he develops right. The Braves have enough pitching depth at and near the majors that they could afford to allow Sims to take his time. Sure there is some risk because he is a prep arm, but the upside is hard to pass on if the Braves decide to take a pitcher.
Heading into the season Victor Roache was in the conversation for being the top pick in the 2012 draft. Then Roache broke his wrist in February and hasn't played since. Helping to complicate his status is the fact that this was a pretty bad break, requiring plates and screws to be inserted into the wrist.
Still it is hard to deny his power. Roache hit 30 home runs last season, a huge number for a college season which lasts less than half the length of the big league season. Making it even more impressive is that last year was the first year with the new bats in college, which cut into offensive production across the nation very dramatically.
He is more than just a power hitter, though, as he has decent speed and plays decent defense as well. That could mean the Georgia Southern star would fit well into left field in Atlanta if he was selected by the Braves.
The biggest question with Roache is obviously with the wrist. If the team feels that there shouldn't be long-term damage, he could be a steal with the 21st pick. Remember Buster Posey needed a plate in his ankle a year ago after fracturing it in a collision and he made it back for the start of the 2012 season as a catcher.
The common theme of outfielders continues with Texas Tech star Barrett Barnes. Barnes is a player with a chance to stick in center defensively, though he may need to move to one of the corner spots. Either way, he is much more known for his bat.
Barnes brings plus power and good on-base skills to the table, which are things the Braves can use. He is also faster than his thickly built frame would make you think, and if the Braves are interested in adding speed early that could help Barnes' cause.
Barnes is projected to go slightly lower in the draft than the 21st pick, but if the Braves believe in his combination of power and speed then they will need to use their pick on him since he won't be there for their second pick.