The future has a much different outlook for the Atlanta Braves after this week's MLB Draft. In previous years the club would have selected a bunch of 17- and 18-year-old high school kids and immediately sent them down to Danville for rookie ball, but this year could and probably will be different. Much, much different.
With 27 of the Braves first 30 selections being college players, including first round pick Sean Gilmartin, quite a few of those guys have the potential to move quickly through the Braves system in the next 18 months.
Among those players, Gilmartin could follow Mike Minor's path through the Minor Leagues. The 2009 first round pick made his first four starts of his professional career at Rome (A-Ball) and then started the 2010 season in Mississippi (Double-A) before moving up to Gwinnett and eventually Atlanta in August. While Gilmartin likely won't see the big leagues until 2013, he has the best chance of any of our recently selected prospects to do so in the shortest amount of time.
Outside of Gilmartin, there is a bevy of college pitchers -- most of which project to be relievers at the Major League level -- who could also move quickly to the higher levels of the system. Vanderbilt relievers Mark Lamm and Navery Moore could both move through the system quickly if they're able to pitch effectively in the back-end of the bullpen. In addition, Cody Martin, a right-handed starter and reliever out of Gonzaga, could also move quickly should the Braves decide to keep him in the 'pen.
Selecting all of these relievers in the earlier rounds of the draft can only mean one thing: the Braves are looking for an all-homegrown bullpen in the near future. Not only does it keep costs down, but it also avoids having to bring in a washed-up veteran in the mold of Scott Proctor or Scott Linebrink.
In addition to the recently added pitching depth, the Braves will now have an interesting dilemma in the infield. Last year the club signed Edward Salcedo, who projects to be a shortstop or third baseman, to the largest signing bonus in franchise history and also used their first two picks of the 2010 draft on Matt Lipka and Andrelton Simmons, who are both projected to be middle infielders. With both their 2nd and 3rd round picks of this year's draft (Nick Ahmed, Kyle Kubitza) being left-side infielders as well, it will be interesting to see how the Braves handle this newly found abundance of infielders.
As far as immediate contributors go for the Major League club, Mark Lamm probably has the best chance to reach Atlanta in the least amount of time. He's polished, throws hard, and the team could always use another talented reliever. Sean Gilmartin could also make an appearance after not too long, but with the starting pitching depth the Braves currently have, it's tough to see him cracking the starting rotation for at least two or three more years.
All things considered, it appears to be a strong draft for the Atlanta Braves.