Usually in the MLB Draft, college players are seen as being more pro ready and low risk options, as most of the time guys coming out of college have faced tougher competition, been able to add or develop their skills, and in most cases reach their potential ceilings as players. The only drawback is that most of these guys have reached their respective ceilings and possess less upside than many of the high-school prospects. As far as the Braves drafting college players, they usually select prep players first and then fill out the rest of the draft with either high upside prep guys that fell off in the draft or college players. This draft season is different as there is a plethora of elite college talent especially at the top of the draft, so let’s take a look at 5 players the Braves could take out of college with their first pick.
5). Jeren Kendall, OF, Nashville, TN (Vanderbilt University)
-consistent hitting mechanics
Jeren Kendall comes out of the MLB player factory, Vanderbilt. With his speed, defense, and instincts it’s no surprise to why Kendall is considered the best defensive OF in college baseball. Kendall also sports some sneaky power and strength to his game as well. The main concern with Kendall is his lack of contact at times and his sometimes overly aggressive approach at the dish. If the Braves were to pick Kendall 5th overall, it could be a money saving move as well as add depth to the OF in the system, but they would be severely overdrafting Kendall.
4). Pavin Smith, 1B, Charlottesville, VA (University of Virginia)
Pavin Smith is out of ACC powerhouse Virginia and has put up some solid numbers this year for the Cavaliers. Scouts have noted that he has a great swing, a great eye for the strike zone, raw power, soft hands over at 1B, and arm that could actually fit well in either LF or RF. Smith’s only weakness is his speed and mobility as he is a victim to the stereotypical and infamous big white boy speed. First-base is a position of need for the organization, but that rarely comes into play in the MLB draft.
3). JB Bukauskas, SP, Chapel Hill, NC (University of North Carolina)
+fastball (93-96; MAX 97-98)
If you haven’t noticed already, the ACC and the state of North Carolina in general is loaded with depth in this year’s draft class. J.B Bukauskas is probably the best player coming out of the state. The guy is a strikeout artist, as he utilizes a mid to high 90s fastball that has good sink on it and a nasty slider as well. His change could use some work here and there if he wants it to be a consistent weapon for him at the MLB level. Questions have been raised as to whether he’ll be able to learn another pitch or two and if he’ll be willing to move to the pen as well. Drafting Bukauskas would not be a surprise, but Atlanta could do better if they want to draft a college pitcher.
2). Alex Faedo, SP, Gainesville, FL (University of Florida)
+fastball (92-95; MAX 96-97)
-mechanics, but they’re consistent
Florida has become a starting pitching factory in the college ranks as of late especially with names like Dane Dunning, Logan Shore, Kirby Snead, and AJ Puk, but scouts are saying that Alex Faedo could potentially be the best of the bunch. He uses a fastball that has good movement and sits in the low to mid 90s as his go to, a nice biting mid to upper 80s slider that gets guys to swing over it or drive it right into the ground, and a change that could use some touching up as solid 3 pitch mix. Faedo’s mechanics are a bit herky jerky but they stay consistent from start to start. The Florida Gator star did have some knee issues that led to surgery a couple of years ago that could raise some eyebrows, but everything on those knees looks fine. Alex Faedo would fit nicely into an already loaded Braves pitching farm system and could quite possibly hear his name called as the 5th overall pick come Draft Day.
1). Kyle Wright, SP, Nashville, TN (Vanderbilt University)
+fastball (90-95; MAX 96-97)
+arsenal (cutter, curve, slider, and change)
It is becoming quite evident that if you want to play pro baseball you need to head to Nashville and become a part of the machine that coach Tim Corbin has built into powerhouse at Vanderbilt. Kyle Wright is the latest name to grab the attention of college baseball and scouts. He has an eclectic arsenal of pitches that sees him use a fastball, cutter, curve, slider, and change. All his pitches look like MLB offerings, but if one needed to be fine tuned it’d be the change. Wright’s command can vary from day to day but not to the point where it should raise any red flags or caution lights. The Vandy star came into the year with 1st overall aspirations but an inconsistent start to the season has cooled that down. If the Braves were to draft Wright they’d be getting a guy that could potentially be in the bigs within the next 2-3 seasons.