With the 2019 MLB Draft a little over a month away, the Braves are zeroing in on potential prospects to select. Will they continue to go pitching as in previous years? Will they draft a catcher? Maybe a corner infielder or outfielder? The Braves are often fond of players from the state of Georgia, and this year’s draft class is not short on peach state talent. Who might the Braves be looking at? According to Baseball Factory, the following are high-school players in the top 100 that hail from the state of Georgia:
Number 2:C.J. Abrams SS, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS (Roswell, Georgia)- Regarded as one of, if not the fastest players in this draft, Abrams speed translates seamlessly to the field. He offers a loose swing from the left side of the plate that makes a prime top of the lineup candidate with a defensive profile that can allow him to excel at multiple positions
Number 7: Daniel Espino RHP, Georgia Perimeter Academy (Bulloch CO., Georgia)- This young man throws GAS. He can run it up to 99 with a plus-breaking ball. Development of more off-speed stuff will see Espino as a starter, but two dominant pitches could place Daniel into 9th-inning duties.
22: Myles Austin SS, Westlake HS (Smyrna, Georgia)- At 6’ 3” and 180lbs, Myles may see his frame develop into an outfield spot or maybe a corner infield position. He is athletic enough to stay at short right now. Austin provides sneaky power and will be an interesting prospect to watch.
24: Jonathan French C, Parkview HS (Lilburn, GA)- French presents plus-tools at a premium position — at a highly-regarded school in Parkview. French shows an advanced ability to receive and block the baseball. He also has an accurate cannon attached to his right shoulder. Couple that with an easy stroke that shows some power, and you have a very enticing prospect at catcher.
28: Will Childers RHP, Lakeside HS (Evans, Georgia)- Will shows a solid three-pitch mix of a heater, breaking ball, and changeup. Fastball sits in the low 90s — touching 94 if needed. Breaking ball has a sharp break, and he is developing the change. Childers is also the QB of his high school, so there is makeup there that bodes well for the righty moving forward.
33: Andre Tarver OF, Ringgold HS (Ringgold, Georgia)- Tarver walks around with an FIM-92 Stinger attached to his right arm in right field, and provides a bit of pop in his lefty swing. Couple that with a solid frame at 6’2” and 210 lbs, and you have a solid corner outfield prospect.
45: Landon Sims RHP, South Forsyth HS (Cumming, GA)- Sims is seen as a durable pitcher who brings gas in the mid-90s consistently. Flashes a hard slider that may be developed into a plus-pitch. Needs to be more deceptive with his fastball as it can run flat.
48: Nasim Nunez INF, Collins Hill HS (Lawrenceville, GA)- Nunez is the type of athlete that reminds you of Billy Hamilton and Andrelton Simmons. Nasim is clocked at 6.3 seconds in his 60-yard dash and touches triple digits on throws from shortstop. At 160lbs, Nunez will need to develop some more size to maintain those numbers, but those tools are fun to watch.
78: Alex McFarlane RHP, Habersham Central HS (Mount Airy, Georgia)- McFarlane is currently a 2-pitch pitcher with a sharp breaking ball that looks to be more of a slider and a fastball that can be thrown in the mid-90s but sits low-90s consistently. Alex is lean at 6’ 3” and 170 lbs — look for him to bulk up to become more durable and add velocity.
81: Andrew Jenkins 3B, Pace Academy (Atlanta, Georgia)-At 6’0 and 205 lbs, Jenkins provides a nice frame for the hot corner. Described as fundamentally sound with a low center-of-gravity and soft hands, Jenkins provides a solid defensive skill set for third base. Jenkins swings a big stick from the right side and could develop decent power as he matures.
Think the Braves will look towards college players in the draft? Here are a few prospects from universities in Georgia the Braves should consider:
Aaron Schunk 3B/CP, UGA- Schunk has become one of the best two-way players in college baseball. He began games at the hot corner and ended them on the bump for the past two seasons in Athens. His arsenal consisted of a low-90s fastball and an effective slider. Schunk will be drafted as a third baseman. The Diamond Dawg has a smooth swing built for line drives — the type of stroke capable of 15 homers a year. Aaron will need to adjust his launch angle a bit if he wishes to hit more. The righty slugger has a deceptively quick first step at third base and soft hands which will play up to an above-average defender. Look for Schunk to be gone in the first 5 rounds of this years draft.
Cam Shepherd SS, UGA- A three-year starter for the Dawgs, Shepherd has proven to be a vital member of the Bulldogs success in 2019. Cam plays a premium position at shortstop and hits in the leadoff spot. He profiles as a solid defender at the position and routinely makes tough plays look easy. His hit tool could hold him back unless he hits for a higher average as Shepherd does not show raw power. Still, expect him to be called on draft day as a possible day-2 selection, but he will probably head back to UGA for his senior season.
Tony Locey RHP, UGA- “He’s our Sunday starter because, often times, the Sunday game is the most important in the series.” That is high praise concerning Locey from his Head Coach, Scott Stricklin. The junior Diamond Dawg has been dominant this year — cruising to an 8-1 record, 2.63 ERA, and 72 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched. Locey offers three solid pitches — a good fastball that sits 91-95 (max 97) and will throw a curve, slider, and splitter. The Houston County hurler will get some looks in the draft — with some saying he may be a day-2 selection but may decide on returning as a senior for UGA.
Tristin English RHP/1B, GT- At 6’3” and 215 lbs, English profiles well as a first baseman. English has developed a power stroke — banging out 13 Doubles and 14 Tanks in a 2019 season that is not over yet. The Braves do not have a legit 1B prospect, maybe English could be that guy. English also has a pitching background. They yellow-jack slugger sports a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. That level of versatility is appealing to any MLB club.
Kyle McCann C, GT- McCann’s lefty raw power is his best tool, and he can use that power to drive the ball to all fields. He does not hit for a high average but counters that by working into deep counts consistently and drawing walks. While he’s improving as he gets more time behind the plate, he may never be more than a fringy receiver. He has plus-level arm strength but will need to shorten his arm action to maintain plus status. There is a lot to like about McCann — so much so that he is spoken about as a potential second-round selection. Can the Braves NOT take a McCann in the second round of this year’s draft? It worked pretty well the last time.