Baseball America talks about their favorite 2023 draft picks for the Braves

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The Braves had a very on-brand draft in 2023, once again targeting signable college pitching. That method has had a lot of success, most notably in 2020 when they came away with Spencer Strider, Bryce Elder, and Jared Shuster. Now, the Braves snag a guy oozing with potential in Hurston Waldrep, a big part of Florida’s 2023 National Championship runner up rotation. Eight of Atlanta’s first ten draft picks touch 96 or above with their fastball, and Baseball America has high praise for their selections.

First up is their fourth round pick Garrett Baumann. He reminds me a little bit of a right-handed Kyle Muller with his imposing frame:

An extra-large righthander with a massive, 6-foot-8, 240-pound frame, Baumann showed an intriguing fastball/changeup combination during the 2022 showcase circuit. Baumann throws his fastball in the 91-93 mph range for the most part and has touched 96 with some running life. His best secondary is a low-80s changeup that pairs nicely with his fastball and has heavy fading life to his arm side and good tumble when he spots the pitch down. Baumann’s feel for spin is rudimentary. He has thrown a slider in the 79-82 mph range with some flat, sweeping action, but the pitch lacks tilt, bit and consistency.

Baumann is a bit of a project, as most high school pitchers are. They are the most volatile type of prospect, but they also usually have the most upside. The Braves need some depth in the lower levels of the minors, and Baumann could be a solid piece if he can put all of his natural gifts together.

Baseball America’s favorite pick from day three of the draft was Kade Kern, who was a really solid outfielder for Ohio State and should be able to rise up in a system that’s pretty thin in terms of bats.

Kern has put together a strong 135-game career at Ohio State with a career average of .302, with 36 doubles, 17 home runs and 101 RBIs. This spring the physical, 6-foot, 200-pound outfielder hit .283/.402/.470 with six home runs, 11 doubles and walked at a 15.1% rate compared to a 19.1% strikeout rate. Those walk and strikeout rates are notable, as Kern significantly improved his approach and swing decisions this spring compared to his first two seasons, more than doubling his walk rate from 2022, with a strong in-zone contact rate of 86% to go with it.

Kern is a solid runner, and the Braves may end up with a gem if he can develop some gap-to-gap power. This is the first draft for the Braves following Dana Brown’s departure, and making a big splash would work wonders for a very thin farm system.

Photo: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire

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