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2011 MLB Mock Draft: Braves Projected High School Pitching With First Round Pick

Major League Baseball's 2011 Draft is three days away and it seems as if every scouting site around has a new mock draft up every day. Here is a list of the mocks put together by the biggest names in the industry and who they have the Atlanta Braves selecting with the 28th overall pick. A summary of that prospect will also be included. Please note that some of these scouting sites are pay-for-information sites, thus we won't be able to give the full summary of each player. 

Keith Law, ESPN: Joe Ross, RHP, 6'2', 180lbs, Bishop O'Dowd HS (Oakland, California)

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One thing you can take to the bank is Atlanta sticking to slot, with team president John Schuerholz sitting at the head of MLB's draft reform committee.

With a chance for three above-average pitches and a clean, simple arm action, he's a definite first-round talent who projects as a No. 2 starter.

Joe Ross features a mid-90's fastball, a curveball which could turn into an above-average pitch and a curveball which he commands nicely.

If the Braves are known for anything in the draft, it's a) they won't spend more money than they have to and b) they love high school prospects. In other words, don't expect Atlanta to take a big risk on a guy in the early rounds with hopes to steal him away from another club by simply offering more money. That's not their philosophy. If Ross is still available he fits both of these criteria and would be a solid pick for the club.

John Sickels, Minor League Ball: Dillon Howard, RHP, 6'3", 200lbs, Searcy HS (Searcy, Arkansas)

Braves-type draft. High-ceiling HS arm. I had (Brian) Goodwin here previously but it sounds like he won't be here by 28. 

While Sickels doesn't have too much on the right-handed pitcher from Arkansas, MLBDraftGuide.com gives us a nice scouting report on Howard:

Howard is a hard throwing righthander, who, according to Baseball America, is the best prospect from Arkansas since Torii Hunter.

Howard throws in the low to mid 90′s with good movement. He regularly hits 95 on the radar gun. Howard uses both a two-seam and a four-seam fastball. Both his 12/6 curve and his changeup are potential plus pitches. He has a smooth delivery, but is sometimes inconsistent.

Similar to Joe Ross, Dillon Howard fits what the Braves typically look for while selecting a player. It sounds like Howard stuggles at times to command all of his pitches, though he could be a front-of-the-rotation pitcher one day should he put it all together in the Minor Leagues.

Jim Callis, Baseball America: Henry Owens, LHP, 6'6", 195lbs, Edison HS (Huntington Beach, California)

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All of Baseball America's scouting reports are premium content, but here are a few lines from ESPN's Keith Law:

Owens won't show premium stuff today, but will show average stuff with an extremely projectable body and great deception that has been producing results in high school and at showcases for several years.

Owens' fastball currently sits at 89-93 with a big, slow, upper-60s curveball that has good shape but needs better arm speed. His changeup is less consistent -- I've seen it 78-80 and effective, and I've seen it 76-78 and easier to pick up out of his hand.

Henry Owens will likely need quite a bit of refining in the Minor Leagues and has a bit of risk added to himself with a somewhat-awkward delivery and approach, but the talent is there and he could potentially be one of the better left-handed pitchers in this draft. 

Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com: Jose Fernandez, RHP, 6'4", 225lbs, Alonso HS (Tampa, Florida)

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A live arm with a good feel for pitching might have Fernandez gone before this point, but the Braves do like developing young pitching.

I would be stunned if Fernandez is still around when the Braves make their selection and getting him with the 28th pick would be a big steal for the club. MLB Draft Guide gives us this scouting report on the righty from Florida:

Fernandez is originally from Cuba, having arrived in the United States with his family prior to his sophomore year. He is a big, power pitching righthander. He is broad shouldered and has thick legs.

Fernandez generally works his fastball from 92-94, but can touch 97. His curve is another quality pitch and he also throws a change in the low 80′s. He will, on occasion, add in a slider.

Again, I really don't think Fernandez makes it to Atlanta in No. 28. For a high school pitcher he's more advanced that most of his competition and he has the frame to be a front-end workhorse for any team's starting rotation. He commands his fastball nicely and he could move up quickly in the Minors with improved control and command of his breaking pitches.

Recap:

At first, most of the scouts in the industry had the Braves leaning towards a selecting a middle infielder in this year's draft. It now appears the club is looking to draft a high school pitcher. It'll be interesting to see if they go along with what the mock drafts have them projected to do or if they're putting their best poker face on in hopes to land a different prospect.

Stay tuned for more updates as Atlanta prepares for Monday's draft. For further Braves coverage, fans should visit Talking Chop.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.