Here’s the run down. We’re bad and there’s not much else to say.
So I’m gonna go ahead and look forward to next year. I predict that the Braves will choose 3rd in the 2016 MLB First Year Player Draft. They may be 4th or 5th, but we’ll just have to see as the year winds down. The Braves also own Miami’s competitive balance draft choice (part of the Olivera deal) and we would have the 3rd pick in the 2nd round as well. Until it gets closer to time, I’m gonna make some way too early predictions for Atlanta’s draft next year, as well as my wishlist. These will probably look ridiculous in a few months but hey, what else is there to talk about?
Round 1, Pick #3:
Atlanta Braves select: LHP AJ Puk, 6’7, 205: Florida Gators
My Pick: OF Blake Rutherford, L/R, 6’2, 180: Chaminade HS (CA)
We’ve seen the Braves select pitchers before, and a lot of fans were confused to see the Braves only select 2 bats in the first few rounds in an organization that is lacking in power. Atlanta has a few options here, AJ Puk, Alec Hansen, Riley Pint, and Robert Tyler are all candidates to be taken in the top 3, but Puk is a huge power lefty with a nice (98 MPH) fastball.
The Case for Puk: Puk and Allard would create a lefty-lefty combo that would be tough to deal with, and it would bolster an already impressive future rotation. Puk (a freshman) would also be ready sooner, college is about the equivalent to A ball. I don’t know how many of you have faced tall pitchers with long arms, but when a guy is this big, it looks like he’s throwing from 20 feet away. Puk would be a great pick. Just an additional note about AJ, he was arrested for climbing a construction crane in the spring. He was charged with third degree trespassing, which is a felony in Florida; but had it reduced to a Misdemeanor by pleading guilty. Community service and fines will wipe his record clean. I don’t see this as a future issue, he’s a kid who made a mistake.
The Case for Rutherford: This draft is stocked with pitchers, and we have a lot of talented arms already. Only 5 men can start in a rotation. We have to get someone who can hit the ball, period. His junior year, Rutherford hit .435 with 4 Home Runs, 22 steals, and 14 RBIs. A small sample size, but if we can get some meat on the kid’s bones, he could be a 30/30 guy in our outfield. Scouts are impressed with his speed, ability to hit a mix of pitches, and raw talent. I’ll say this though, either pick would be great for Atlanta.
Comp Balance Round A; Pick 35
Atlanta Braves Select: OF Seth Beer, 6’3 205, Lambert HS (GA)
My Pick: OF Seth Beer, L/R 6’3, 205, Lambert HS (GA)
If Seth Beer doesn’t climb the draft charts (which I think he will) I’d go for Puk at 3 and wait on Beer. His ceiling is crazy high, and his power is his strong suit. The Clemson commit posted impressive numbers his junior year.
The Case for (of) Beer: His stats do the talking for him; .538 Average, 9 2Bs, 6 HRs. He also plays third, and get this: He posted a 3-0 record with a 1.80 ERA. He’s similar to Austin Riley, but with more upside. His sophomore year on varsity, his average sat at .536, so last year was no fluke. Beer is the best choice here (isn’t it always?). Besides, who could turn down a “Beer” Braves jersey?
Round 2, Pick #46
Atlanta Braves Select: RHP Garrett Gooden, 6’5, 210: St. Pius X HS (GA)
My Pick: C Thomas Dillard, S/R, 6’0, 215, Oxford HS (MS)
The number of this pick is suspect, we’ll have to see the compensation picks first: I know the Dodgers have one for Kyle Funkhouser at #35 last year, so they will receive #36. This is a rough estimate.
The Case For Gooden: I wouldn’t be too disappointed if we took Gooden. He’s throwing in the 90’s, and Atlanta is known for drafting local High School kids. A pure athlete with good size, Gooden is committed to Georgia Tech for baseball. A member of the 2015 Underclass 1st team, he could also move up on the draft boards and be gone long before this pick. I couldn’t find his stats, but the video I saw of him throwing reminded me a little bit of current Braves prospect Tyrell Jenkins (minus the leg kick). A big kid with a big delivery, he would be a great 2nd round pick.
The Case For Dillard: Dillard, an Ole Miss commit, is revered for his power from both sides of the plate. He was also with Gooden on the 2015 All Underclassmen 1st team. He’s a little short, but Bethancourt is 6’2 and McCann is 6’3, not like he’s at a huge disadvantage. He and Lucas Herbert would be fun to watch battle it out for the backstop role in a few years.