The June 6-8 2013 MLB draft is quickly approaching with teams doing final prep work for the event.
So much of the Braves' success depends on having a strong farm system, and building through the draft plays a large role in having just that.
The Atlanta Braves hold the No. 31 pick in the first round of this year's draft as compensation for losing Michael Bourn to the Cleveland Indians (the Braves forfeited their original first pick at No. 29 by signing B.J. Upton).
They could go a number of different directions with the pick.
The Braves have selected pitchers with three of their last four first-round picks with two (Mike Minor, Sean Gilmartin) out of the college ranks. However, over the last 10 years, the Braves have chosen the same number of positional players (4) as pitchers in the first round.
The Braves have also traditionally targeted the state of Georgia and the South in particular in the first round. Three of their past eight first-round picks have been out of Georgia, and the Braves haven't selected a player north of the Mason-Dixon line since Scott Thorman from Canada in 2000.
With the draft a few weeks away, here are a few prospects I see the Braves targeting in the first round.
School: Parkview High School, Ga.
Josh Hart would fit the strategy of drafting young talent from their own backyard.
Hart comes from Parkview High School, the same school as former Brave Jeff Francoeur, and could develop in the minors.
The left-hander features a strong arm and great speed to project him as a center fielder and top-of-the-order player at the next level.
Hart doesn't have tremendous power but could develop into the long-term answer at the leadoff spot, which is something the Braves could desperately use.
If selected in the first round, I'd expect Hart to sign and forgo continuing his baseball career at Georgia Tech.
Position: Third Base
School: Winder-Barrow High School, Ga.
Another talented prospect in the state of Georgia the Braves could target is third baseman Travis Demeritte.
Demeritte features a quick bat that looks to have power potential as the ball jumps off his bat.
In the field, he is quick laterally to possess good range and shows off a rocket arm. He looks to have the tools to be a plus defender as a professional.
The Braves don't have a clear long-term answer at third base and may choose to address that early in the draft.
Demeritte is currently committed to the South Carolina Gamecocks.
School: University of Jacksonville
Chris Anderson has great velocity on his fastball, as he hits the mid-90s and brings a strong presence to the mound, standing 6'4" and 225 pounds.
He mixes in a slider and changeup—both of which he's improving on but have the potential to be plus pitches in the future.
Anderson used that arsenal of pitches to put together a strong season at Jacksonville. He posted a 7-5 record and 2.49 ERA and demonstrated good command in walking 27 batters in 104.2 innings.
The Braves drafted a strong-armed left-hander in Alex Wood and could select a right-hander in Anderson if he is available at the end of the first round.
School: Mississippi State
Hunter Renfroe has the skill the Braves have seemingly fallen in love with—power.
The big right-handed hitter looks to be a prototypical power hitter who hits a lot of home runs and also strikes out a lot.
His power didn't lead to production in his first two seasons at Mississippi State, as he hit just four home runs while failing to hit over .300 in either season.
His junior season has been another story, as he's exploded for 15 home runs, 51 RBI while hitting for a .362 average.
Renfroe will be limited to a corner outfield spot in the major leagues, but the Braves love the power-hitting right-handed hitters.
Another prospect out of the SEC, pitcher Bobby Wahl has received plenty of attention as the draft nears.
Wahl has a tradition frame for a pitcher at 6'3" and 200 pounds and features good velocity with a plus slider.
Wahl has excelled on the mound for the Rebels the past two seasons. In 2013, he's posted a 9-0 record with a 1.99 ERA in the very tough SEC.
He has some work to do in terms of command, as he's walked 42 batters in 90.2 innings this season, but still looks to be a solid MLB prospect.
The Braves could go a number of different directions with the No. 31 pick in the draft, but these are a few guys that should be on the radar.