After inking three of the team’s first four draftees on Thursday, the Braves locked up their final 2020 selection on Friday, signing Texas right-hander Bryce Elder for $850,000.
5th-rder Bryce Elder signs with @Braves for $850k (slot 156 value = $336,600). Texas RHP, one of best sliders in @MLBDraft, also has low-90s sinker, ability to manipulate breaking ball into a curve and effective changeup. High-floor guy. @MLBDraft
— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) June 20, 2020
As MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis notes above, Elder receives a signing bonus roughly 40% above his pick’s slot value, although given the talent he brings to the table, it’s fair to say the Braves were lucky to get him in the 5th round. Starting with an allotment of just over $4.1 million in bonus money this year, the Braves have now signed all of their 2020 selections for an overall total of $3,996,800 — leaving the organization with just $131,000 left.
Elder, 21-years-old, joins recently signed outfielder Jesse Franklin as two college players from the Braves’ 2020 draft that appear to have the best track record going forward. Both are former stars in the NCAA and were key contributors for their respective programs during their amateur careers.
Elder entered this year’s draft ranked no. 134 on FanGraphs’ THE BOARD (no. 109 via MLB Pipeline), and like many of the other Braves’ draftees, has improved quite substantially in recent seasons. After spending his freshman year at Texas as a bullpen option in 2018, posting a 5.55 ERA, Elder quickly evolved into the Longhorns’ ace starter and finished his sophomore season (2019) with a 2.93 ERA in 13 outings. By the 2020 season, the 6-foot-2 righty established himself as one of the premier pitchers in the NCAA, and before play was suspended had tallied a 2.08 ERA and over 11 strikeouts per nine during his first four starts.
Elder’s draft stock suffered mostly because he lacks the power stuff most top prospects wield. His fastball rarely reaches the mid-90s mph, and his current repertoire only features two viable offerings (although he’s still developing a changeup as a third pitch). Still, Elder’s fastball/slider combo, coupled with his above-average command, has resulted in a solid foundation for the Braves’ development staff to work from.
Many believe Elder’s ceiling is that of a no. 3 starter in the big leagues, and at less than a million dollars, the Braves have very little invested. Either way, now that he’s officially a Brave, we’ll see just how high that ceiling is.
Be sure to check out our Braves Draft Tracker for all the Braves latest signings. We’ll have the latest updates on the team’s undrafted free agents, as well as any news regarding the return of the 2020 season, posted Monday morning.