The Atlanta Braves selected Sean Gilmartin with the 28th overall pick on Monday night. The decision was a surprise to most Braves fans as just about everyone in the industry saw the club taking a high school pitcher with their first round pick, but they're called a "mock" draft for a reason. Let's get to know the left-handed starting pitcher...
Here is SB Nation's own John Sickels on the selection:
Gilmartin might not have been easy for the Braves to choose, as they hadn't selected a college player in the first round only twice since 1992. But the Braves know how to scout the South, and Gilmartin is a polished lefty who has patterned himself after Tom Glavine and Cole Hamels.
Like a lot of lefties, Gilmartin might not have a high ceiling, especially considering his unspectacular fastball. But he's got a great changeup and a solid breaking ball and everyone raves about his makeup. Plus, the Braves know as well as anyone that a polished left-hander doesn't have to throw 95 to win. As FSU pitching coach Jamey Shouppe recently said, "He's just got the professional approach that a guy like Nolan Ryan, as a 10- or 15-year veteran, had."
Gilmartin's statistical profile this year was outstanding: 12-1, 1.83 ERA with 122/20 K/BB in 113 innings.
In addition, here is ESPN's Keith Law on the lefty:
Gilmartin's a college performer with adequate stuff but who may need to find another gear to be more than a fourth or fifth starter in the big leagues.
He'll pitch with a fringe-average fastball, mostly 88-89 but touching a 91, and has a big, slow curveball that might work against lefties but wouldn't be a weapon against better right-handed batters. His best pitch is his changeup, 76-78 mph with good arm speed and some late fading action, although he uses it a lot and I'd like to see him pitch more off his fastball. He's a good athlete who can even swing the bat a little bit. He stays over the rubber well and pronates his arm very early after showing the ball to the center fielder.
This is what I thought Mike Minor was in college -- a command lefty with a good changeup but an average fastball and no plus breaking ball. Minor added some muscle after signing and upped his velocity, at least temporarily, and I suppose Gilmartin could do the same.
The comparisons to Mike Minor were inevitable after Monday night's selection of Gilmartin. Atlanta rarely drafts college pitchers in the first round, but for the second time in three years, they've bucked that trend and went for the lower-ceiling pitcher who was more of a sure-thing than the other prep school pitchers left on the draft board who had front-end of the rotation potential.
Selecting a college player in the first round has both it's benefits and drawbacks. One of those benefits is the potential for the pitcher to move quickly through the Minor Leagues. Nothing has been announced, but the Braves will likely handle Gilmartin similar to the way they handled Mike Minor. He'll likely make a few starts in either Rome or Lynchburg, possibly make a few starts in the off-season in the Arizona Fall League, and then start the 2012 season in either Lynchburg or Mississippi.
With a solid make-up and proven track record in college, Gilmartin could potentially see the Major Leagues by 2013 if he impresses in the Minors. In a perfect world he improves his velocity and command of his fastball and becomes a solid front-end of the rotation starting pitcher. He'll likely turn into a back-end starting pitcher with the potential to have a nice few seasons, though.
Impact on the 2011 Braves:
Talking Chop already speculated on this issue, but perhaps the Braves made the selection because they're planning to trade away some of their young, Major League-ready pitchers in hopes to solidify their lineup for this year and beyond. While nothing but speculation and rumors have been made on a potential move, Atlanta has a bevy of pitching talent and could strike a deal should the right one come up. Gilmartin was one of the safer picks in the first round and could potentially be ready for the Majors in the next few seasons. This could be appealing to the Braves.
This was a safe, cheap pick by the Atlanta Braves. There were players other than Gilmartin with a higher ceiling that would have signed for the recommended slot bonus, but the Braves strayed away from potential and went with a safe, lower risk player.
While this writer wasn't a big fan of the selection, we should all probably know better than to question the Braves' scouting department when it comes to pitching. Atlanta has consistently had a deep, talented list of starting pitchers in the Minor Leagues for years and years and doubting our tremendous scouts is probably foolish after all they've done for the organization.
Welcome to Atlanta, Sean Gilmartin. Best of luck and congratulations.
Be sure to check out SB Nation's full coverage of the 2011 Draft. Braves fans should stay tuned to SB Nation Atlanta and Talking Chop for complete coverage of all the Braves selections.