Although the MLB Draft is still going on (rounds 31-50 are tomorrow) I decided to get the draft recap done as players picked lower than 30th rarely end up signing. If the Braves add anyone who I could see making an impact, I will be sure to add them to the list.
First, here is a quick breakdown of what the Braves drafted, going by their listing on MLB.com.
Corner Infield: 4
Middle Infield: 7
The breakdown looks solid to me. The Braves have built up some young pitching depth in the minors, and needed to get some other positions filled first. Over the past two years, the Braves have drafted 15 and 17 players in the first 30 rounds, respectively.
Atlanta Braves First 10 Picks:
Matthew Lipka, SS, McKinney HS, Texas, Comp A:
The Braves didn’t have a first round pick, but chose Lipka in the first compensation round (35th overall). An excellent athlete, Lipka was an all-state wide receiver in high school, and has incredible speed. Known as a “toolsy” player, the pick is great for the Braves because they desperately needed some middle infield depth in their system. Scouts disagree on how his power will develop, and some think that he could eventually develop above-average power as he fills out. Lipka may eventually wind up at second base (or even centerfield), and could be a future leadoff hitter with his blazing speed.
Todd Cunningham, OF (3B), Jacksonville State, 2nd Round:
The Braves continue to fill needs by taking another position player. Although Cunningham is listed as a centerfielder, he probably won’t stick there and will either move to left field or third base. Cunningham won the batting title in the prestigious Cape Cod Summer League last year, and is another guy with plus speed. He likely will only average power, but should hit for a high average at all levels.
Andrelton Simmons, SS (RHP), Western Oklahoma State, 2nd Round:
Simmons is an amazing defensive shortstop, yet can also throw in the mid to upper 90s when pitching. The Braves took him as a pitcher (although he is listed on mlb.com as a shortstop), and he should be another guy with nasty stuff out of the bullpen. Simmons definitely has future closer potential, but I think I would have rather seen the Braves continue to look for position players early in the draft.
Joe Leonard, 3B, Pittsburgh, 3rd Round:
The Braves take a great defensive third baseman in the third round. Aside from that, Leonard doesn’t have any tools that really stand out, although his power may develop more as he matures. Although he doesn’t have as high a ceiling as some other Braves picks, Leonard has the potential to be a major league regular, and will give the Braves needed depth at third base.
David Filak, RHP, Oneonta, 4th Round:
The second pitcher taken by the Braves, Filak was actually ranked higher than his pick (134) by most people, so it looks like the Braves got a good value. Although he has had injury issues in the past, he profiles as a second starter, and has a nasty knuckle-curve. Keith Law had him ranked as a second round prospect, so the Braves got great value even though they already have a ton of young pitchers.
Phillip Gosselin, 2B, Virginia, 5th Round:
Although he doesn’t have any plus tools, Gosselin has the intangibles that could make this a nice pick. Described as gritty, a gamer, and a guy with great instincts. He might eventually play outfield for the Braves, as that is where he spent a large part of his college career.
Joseph Terdoslavich, 3B, Cal State-Long Beach, 6th Round:
The first player the Braves drafted that has plus power. A below average defender at third, he might switch to first (plus the Braves have drafted a couple potential third baseman ahead of him). His likely won’t hit for a great average, and the Braves might have reached a little with this pick.
Matthew Suschak, RHP, Toledo, 7th Round:
With a plus fastball and two average secondary offerings, he will likely end up in the bullpen, although he did start some in college. The Braves got a good value with this pick, (around 75 slots after expected) so if they sign him this could end up being a great pick.
Kurt Flemming, OF, St. Christopher’s HS, VA, 8th Round:
Another speedster who plays outfield, I this Braves may have reached a little on this pick. His dad works for the Braves organization, which should make him easier to sign. Only 5-11, Flemming is undersized, but a great athlete.
David Rohm, 1B, Fresno CC, 9th Round:
I like this pick for the Braves. He can hit to the entire field, and likely will develop more power as he matures. He has above average speed, although he isn’t a burner like some guys above him on this list. While Rohm’s defense isn’t great, he could eventually make an impact assuming he develops as projected.
Others to Watch:
Matthew Lewis, RHP, UC-Davis, 10th Round – Most have him ranked ahead of Rohm, could eventually find a way into the Braves bullpen.
Brandon Drury, SS, Grants Pass HS, OR, 13th Round – High school kid with a great baseball I.Q. I always like players like this when they are drafted after the marquee names are off the board.
Richie Tate, RHP, Arkansas, 14th Round – Hard throwing pitcher who will need to work on his control to have an impact on the major league level.
Stefan Sabol, C, Aliso Niguel HS, CA, 17th Round – Sabol is a high school catcher who has potential and is pretty athletic. If he can stay behind the plate he might end up being a great value for the Braves.
Zachary Alvord, 2B, Couth Forsyth HS, GA, 18th Round – High power upside as a second baseman, Alvord isn’t great on defense but might be able to hit his way to the majors.
I’m pretty happy with the Braves draft so far. In the early rounds they did a great job of addressing their needs in the field while nabbing a couple of nice bullpen arms. Although he wasn’t technically part of this draft class, Edward Salcedo was essentially the Braves first round pick, so they got a lot of middle infield help.
Although they didn’t add much to the potential starting rotation, they have plenty of talent already in the organization (Teheran, Vizcaino, Delgado, Minor) and did a great job drafting more position players than they typically do.
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