Braves: Alex Anthopoulos comments on the upcoming MLB Draft

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It’s the busiest time of the year for MLB general managers. Not only is the trade deadline approaching quickly, but the MLB draft is set to begin on Sunday — an event that just got a lot more interesting for the Braves after they traded Drew Waters and two other prospects to the Royals for the 35th overall pick. Atlanta now has two selections within the top 35 picks, five within the top 100, and are top 10 in the league in bonus pool money. This is a critical draft for the Braves, who now find themselves with arguably the worst farm system in the league after trades and graduations.

Recently, Alex Anthopoulos caught up with Jeff Schultz of The Athletic to discuss a number of topics, including the MLB Draft. Here’s what he had to say about one of the most important drafts in recent history for the Braves:

“We want to try to restock a little bit,” said Anthopoulos, whose team also owns the 20th pick of the round. “We’ve graduated a lot of players to the big league level. We’ve made trades. From a farm system standpoint, our (player development) is at first base because we used guys we drafted to get (Olson), it’s in center field (Harris) and it’s on the mound. In a non-contending year, there’s no chance Strider and Harris are at the big league level. They’re probably getting more development time, building up innings, building at-bats. We would’ve done level-to-level.”

Alex Anthopoulos has hit on a lot of drafts since he took over as general manager of the Braves, and you don’t have to look very far in the past to find evidence. The 2020 MLB draft was only five rounds, and Atlanta had just four picks, but they might have hit on all of them.

Spencer Strider is already contributing in a big way at the major-league level and is one of the leading candidates for the NL Rookie of the Year. Bryce Elder, the Braves fifth-round selection that year, has already made his MLB debut and is currently in AAA. 2020 first-round pick Jared Shuster was just promoted to AAA after dominating in Mississippi, and Jesse Franklin has flashed a lot of tools early in his minor-league career as well. That’s pretty spectacular, and to think Anthopoulos also nabbed Michael Harris II the year before in the third round of the 2019 draft.

The MLB Draft is oftentimes a crapshoot. More than half of the first-round picks fizzle out and make little to no contributions at the major-league level. But Anthopoulos and company have proven that their strategy is an effective one, so hopefully, the Braves can come away with a slew of high quality prospects during next week’s MLB Draft and replenish one of the most barren farm systems in baseball.

Photo: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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