Braves' 2021 MLB Draft Guide and Top Prospects to Target

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2021

Braves' 2021 MLB Draft Guide and Top Prospects to Target

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    After winning their third straight NL East title with a 35-25 record in 2020, the Atlanta Braves will choose No. 24 overall in the 2021 MLB draft.

    The Braves have done as well as anyone in drafting and developing first-round talent in recent years, with guys like Austin Riley (2015), Mike Soroka (2015) and Ian Anderson (2016) all key pieces of the current core.

    They have picked No. 24 overall twice before, selecting left-hander Macay McBride in 2001 and outfielder Cody Johnson in 2006. McBride had a couple solid seasons as a lefty reliever, while Johnson failed to reach the majors.

    Who will the Braves target this time around?

    Ahead, we have broken down three prospects who should be on their radar when their pick comes up in the 2021 MLB draft.

              

    The 2021 MLB draft will kick off Sunday, with the event coinciding with All-Star Weekend in Colorado and spanning three days and 20 rounds.

RHP/SS Bubba Chandler, North Oconee High School (GA)

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    Photo Credit: North Oconee High School

    The Braves have never been shy about plucking top-tier talent from their own backyard.

    Two-sport star Bubba Chandler is part of a stacked crop of high school talent in Georgia this year that also includes shortstop Brady House and catcher/infielder Harry Ford, who will both likely hear their names called before the Braves pick.

    Chandler could still be on the board, though.

    A 3-star quarterback recruit who has committed to play both sports at Clemson, Chandler is an elite athlete who could take off once he turns his full attention to the diamond.

    "He can throw a football 40 yards down field with his left hand, and he can also windmill dunk on the basketball court," wrote Baseball America. "Understandably, many teams are excited about the massive upside Chandler could have if he ever focuses exclusively on baseball."

    A legitimate prospect as both a right-handed pitcher and a power-hitting shortstop, Chandler was up to 97 mph with his fastball this spring while showing a good feel for his off-speed stuff, and most expect his future to be on the mound.

    Is he signable? That's the big question.

RHP Gavin WIlliams, East Carolina

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Used primarily as a reliever at East Carolina prior to this season, Gavin Williams saw his stock steadily climb this spring before a stellar performance going head-to-head with Kumar Rocker and Vanderbilt in super regionals vaulted him into the first-round conversation.

    A strong, 6'6", 238-pound right-hander with a 70-grade fastball that touches triple-digits, Williams is still refining his off-speed stuff and will likely take a bit more developmental time than the average college arm taken in the first round.

    However, after going 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 130 strikeouts in 81.1 innings, his upside is impossible to ignore. He struck out 13 while allowing seven hits and two earned runs in 7.1 innings in a 2-0 loss to Vandy to close out his college career.

    It's not out of the question to think a team drafting in the teens could fall in love with his upside.

RHP/SS Spencer Schwellenbach, Nebraska

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    The Braves have been linked to Nebraska two-way standout Spencer Schwellenbach throughout the spring, and it appears he is higher on their board than most other teams.

    He checks in No. 51 on Baseball America's Top 500 draft prospects list, so there's a chance he could still be available when the Braves pick again at No. 59 overall in the second round. However, he could also be viewed as a prime candidate to cut a below-slot deal with in order to save some money for an above-slot move in the later rounds.

    Scouts are split on his future position.

    "No player in this draft creates more split opinions on whether he has a brighter future as a hitter or pitcher than Schwellenbach," MLB.com wrote.

    He hit .284/.403/.459 with 19 extra-base hits and nine steals in 48 games as the Cornhuskers' starting shortstop while also going 3-1 with 10 saves and a 0.57 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 34 strikeouts in 31.2 innings as the team's closer.

    With a legitimate three-pitch mix that includes a fastball that touches 99 mph, a wipeout slider and a good changeup, he has the potential to start if he winds up on the mound. His ceiling is a bit lower at shortstop, but his game is more polished there.

    Is Atlanta ready for a two-way experiment?

                       

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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