If you haven’t noticed, the MLB Draft is in the coming days and the Atlanta Braves possess another top 5 pick. With the 5th overall pick, they will look to further their already loaded farm system. This draft is not particularly loaded, as scouts have referred to it as average or even below average. The 2017 version of the MLB Draft is noted as lacking in depth and a bit top heavy, which greatly benefits the Braves since they have a top 5 selection. John Coppolella and company have started a trend with drafting high upside prep players, so with that in mind, here’s 5 prep players the Braves could draft. Note that top high schoolers (as listed by MLB.com) Hunter Greene and Royce Lewis will not make this list because it is perceived by many draft analysts and media outlets that those two will be selected before the Braves have a chance to pick. Nonetheless, all players that make this list are capable at performing at high levels once they are signed and hit the field in the minors.
5). Nick Pratto-1B/P, Huntington Beach HS (Huntington Beach, CA)
-where to play him 1B or P?
Okay, first off this kid makes me feel old because in 2011 he hit a walkoff single to win the Little League World Series for Huntington Beach. Pratto has grown up now and has developed into a potential top 10 draft pick. Scouts have noted that Pratto doesn’t look overmatched while at the plate, and his solid footwork at first base profiles him to be a solid option defensively. The Braves need since they are lacking in 1B depth across the board. This would also be another trademarked money saving pick.
4). D.L Hall- LHP, Houston Co HS (Valdosta, GA)
+Fastball(90-94; MAX 95-96)
+Curve(76-80; good movement and depth)
-command and control
High school pitchers with elite upside seem to be the Braves’ forte when it comes to drafting nowadays. D.L Hall has a plus fastball and curve, but needs to develop more feel for his change and basic control and command before he starts climbing up the farm system. Either way, Hall looks be to a solid choice for any team looking for a young, left handed starter.
3). Shane Baz- RHP/3B, Concordia Lutheran HS (Cypress, TX)
+fastball(90-93 MPH; MAX 94-96)
Shane Baz is the top prep arm in the state of Texas, a state that has produced Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard, and Braves 2016 first rounder Kyle Muller. For a kid his age, he has a very deep arsenal that includes a 4 and 2 seam fastball, a cutter, a slider, a curve, and changeup that could use some work. Like many high schoolers who can ramp it up in the low to mid 90s, his control and command need improvement. The biggest concern is his signability. He is a very firm in his commitment to TCU as they will allow him to also play third base, which Baz also excels at, but he projects more as a pitcher as a pro. If the front office decides to pick up Baz, it would resemble the pick they made with Ian Anderson last year. A great money saving pick that adds even more depth to a loaded pitching farm system.
2). Austin Beck-OF, North Davidson HS (Lexington, NC)
+Bat w/ potential 70 grade power
+short, compact, powerful swing
-health due a torn ACL.
-wood bat power?
Austin Beck is being noted by Baseball America as their fastest riser in this year’s draft class and looks to be a solid draft pick in the outfield. Beck has been noted as having a very quick, compact, swing that has been compared to Mike Trout’s when he was in high school. He also has plus tools in speed, glove skills, and arm talent that is imperative to being a top flight MLB OF prospect. The only issue going forward for Beck is health, and his questionable wood bat power. This is due to him missing a season of summer showcase ball in 2016 due to a torn ACL. In the MLB draft you don’t necessarily draft by need because they vary from season to season, so it usually boils down to the best player available. If Beck is still there at five, don’t be shocked if the Braves break their trend and actually select a position player this year.
1). MacKenzie Gore-LHP, Whiteville HS (Whiteville, NC)
+Fastball with movement 88-92 MPH (MAX 93-95)
Coming out of Whiteville, NC, Gore has rocketed up draft boards and rankings as of late and looks to become another top guy in a loaded class from the Tar Heel state. He won’t blow you away with his fastball but he does have great deception and movement to get guys to swing and miss. His change is stellar with great movement and depth. Gore’s curve and overall control can be spotty but that can be easily fixed once he starts making his way through the minors. The young southpaw was named the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year, so if the Braves select Gore, Atlanta will have selected the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year in back-to-back years (Kyle Muller). It would mark the first time an organization has ever chosen the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year in consecutive drafts.