The Atlanta Braves built their foundation on selecting high school pitchers and developing them into stars at the Major League level. It has been that way for more than two decades now. That trend was completely obliterated after Tuesday's action at the MLB Draft. Out of the 30 players drafted so far, three have been high schoolers. Three.
Sean Gilmartin has already been covered so let's take a look at some of the notable picks for Atlanta in rounds 2 through 30.
Nick Ahmed, SS - 2nd Round, UCONN
Ahmed originally came into this past season a bit under the radar playing up at UCONN, but he received a lot of exposure with two first round picks (Springer, Barnes) as his teammates. He plays solid defense at shortstop and has plus-speed, though he'll have to improve his hitting if he hopes to make it in the Major Leagues as more than a bench player.
The decision to take a shortstop in the second round came as a bit of a surprise. The club already has Tyler Pastornicky, Andrelton Simmons, Edward Salcedo and Matt Lipka in the system and all four of those players could become starting shortstops one day in the Majors. Perhaps the club plans to change his (or someone else's) position in order to accommodate Ahmed.
Kyle Kubitza, 3B - 3rd Round, Texas State
This pick was a pretty big surprise. While talented, Kubitza was unranked by just about everyone in the industry and was projected as a 6th or 7th round player. Still though, he fits in nicely to the system and the Braves could certainly use some depth at the hot corner. He's just a junior in college so it could cost a little extra to convince him to sign with Atlanta.
J.R. Graham, RHP - 4th Round, Santa Clara
Of the 29 picks the club made today, Graham is easily one of my favorites. The righty is less polished than most of the college pitchers taken in the early rounds and he'll likely need quite a bit of coaching and development in the Minor Leagues if he hopes to make it to Atlanta, but the kid throws hard. His fastball sits in the mid-90's and if he can continue developing his curveball and changeup he could really become an impressive prospect.
There are a few concerns about his ability to hold up on the mound and he may be destined to be a late-inning bullpen guy, but hey, you can never have enough talented bullpen arms available.
Mark Lamm, RHP - 6th Round, Vanderbilt
He spent five years at Vandy and predominately served as a set-up man this past season. He throws hard and the Braves have likely seen a ton of him in the last few years (Mike Minor was from Vanderbilt as well) and he has the potential to be in the Major Leagues in a year or two. Again, you can never have enough home grown, capable bullpen arms in your farm system and the Braves know this.
He also had this to say on Twitter:
Thanks for all the kind words everyone! It is seriously a dream come true. Been @Braves fan since I can remember. #TomahawkChop
I like him already.
Chase Larsson, OF - 9th Round, Cameron University
This kid was the best hitter in college baseball last year.
Well, the best hitter in NCAA Division II baseball. He led the country in home runs (29) and RBIs, though his defense does have some major questions. There are also question marks regarding his ability to translate his game from aluminum bats to wooden bats, but if he's able to make the adjustment both at the plate and in the field, he could be an interesting prospect to follow.
Seth Moranda, IF - 11th Round, Buchanan HS (California)
Look! It's high school player!
Navery Moore, RHP - 14th Round, Vanderbilt
We already selected Vandy's set-up man, so why not go after their closer as well? Moore joins J.R. Graham as one of my favorite selections from Tuesday's draft and he has a similar profile. He throws hard a hard, mid-90's fastball and has been described to have a true closer's mentality on the mound. Once a highly regarded prospect, he underwent Tommy John Surgery and it has limited his innings in college. Teams might have been scared away from the durability issues, but Moore could be a closer in the Major Leagues one day.
He also gets points for having the name "Navery".
Troy Snitker, C - 19th Round, North Georgia
Yes, Troy Snitker is the son of Brian Snitker, the current 3rd base coach of the Braves. Let's all hope his decision making is slightly better than his father's as he rounds third base.
Just kidding, Brian.
Looking Ahead To Wednesday:
The 2011 MLB Draft will conclude tomorrow. Don't expect too many big names at all; The latter rounds are mainly used by clubs to try and scoop up high school players who are highly unlikely to sign because of their college commitments.