After having just five rounds a year ago, the MLB draft consisted of 20 this time around. It ended a couple of days ago, and the Braves opted to focus primarily on college players who should be ready faster than most high school prospects. Among the college prospects chosen was 19th-round pick Samuel Strickland, who Baseball America tabbed the Braves most underrated selection in the draft.
Strickland hails from Samford University, where he was dominant for the majority of his career. As a freshman, he was named a Freshman All-American and First Team All-SoCon, going 8-2 with a 2.33 ERA over 81 innings in which opponents hit just .177 against him. Strickland followed up with a so-so sophomore campaign, but the shortened 2020 season may have been his best. Over 23 innings, he recorded a 1.17 ERA and had 30 strikeouts compared to just one walk. Unfortunately, 2021 was the worst year of his collegiate career, posting an ERA over five and allowing 106 hits in just 77.1 innings.
Despite that, Baseball America still likes Strickland’s potential. His fastball reportedly touched 95 this spring, and he’s notorious for throwing strikes, which is oftentimes the most difficult aspect for most pitching prospects to learn. After seeing how Atlanta has developed 2020 Draft Pick Spencer Strider, the pick does have me excited. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Strickland this year as he gets his first taste of professional ball.