Braves ink draft picks Shuster, Franklin and Strider

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It’s been a busy day for the Braves front office in what should have been the near mid-season mark. The Braves officially signed first-round pick Jared Shuster, third-rounder Jesse Franklin and fourth-rounder Spencer Strider today. Jim Callis was the first to report on this nearly an hour ago.

 

The picks have been made, the ink is on paper and the newest batch of superstars are ready for their shot under the bright lights. So, let’s take a look at them.

Jared Shuster

Shuster, 21, joins a storied pitching staff which includes one of the arms he attempted to emulate as he grew up: Cole Hamels. He was the Braves first pick in the 2020 draft, bringing with him an arm that can seemingly do it all. The Wake Forest product has a potentially elite off-speed arsenal, that brought a 60% whiff rate; the highest percentage of pitchers in this year’s draft class.

https://twitter.com/ACCBaseball/status/1270895199699587072

Shuster’s improved command and seemingly unreadable arm are major pluses, especially for a franchise known for their elite pitchers. However, where there is reward, there is also risk. Hardly anyone on the higher level of the game has seen “the new him” in action. The Braves, though, have faith in their first rounder. They see endless potential in him, expecting him to improve rapidly and join the rotation as soon as possible.

Jesse Franklin

Coming into an outfield class that consists of Cristian Pache and the living-legend Ronald Acuna, Franklin already has some big shoes to fill.

The former Seattle pick turned Michigander has the power-speed combination the Braves are looking for in the lineup; someone who can knock it well out of the park and take more than just a base when he doesn’t.

It may be some time before Franklin is ready for the big stage, however. He suffered a collar bone fracture in January, coupled with the halt of operations on account of COVID. That won’t be too much of an issue, though.

Franklin hit .327/.379/.558 as a freshman before the injuries plagued him a bit. His collegiate career sits at an impressive .287/.385/.520 with 23 HR and 102 RBI, even through all the injuries. When he’s at his healthiest, he’s nothing short of deadly.

Once he’s up, healthy and ready to go, though, we could see an outfield combination, or “Big Three”, that rivals the legendary pitching trio of the 90’s.

 

Spencer Strider

Strider was another player taken by the Braves last week that already has experience in the draft. The righty was selected by the Indians in the 35th round back in 2017, but instead chose to improve his stock at Clemson. 

https://twitter.com/ClemsonBaseball/status/1234193817948917760?s=19

 

A rough freshman campaign and a Tommy John surgery in 2019 could’ve easily ruined Strider’s chances in the 2020 draft, but the 21-year-old made some notable gains this season before the pandemic. In four starts Strider averaged 14.3 strikeouts per nine and 2.3 walks per nine, thanks to an improved fastball (touches 95 mph) and better command of his secondaries. 

Strider perhaps has the least amount of track record of the Braves’ four draft selections, having only pitched 63 innings since 2017, but his most-recent performance appears promising. 

The draft is over and the picks are made. All we have left to do now is wait; wait for the MLBPA and the league to reach a decision to play ball again. You can catch all the updates on those meetings and proposals right here on SportsTalkATL.

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