The Braves wrapped up the 2021 MLB Draft today, and while we won’t know much about these prospects professionally for at least a few weeks, I figured I’d break down why the Braves made some of the moves they did.
We’ve seen Alex Anthopoulos use a variety of strategies. After the Braves gave Kyle Wright the largest signing bonus in draft history before he took over, Anthopoulos has been a very difficult man to predict. His first draft saw him fail to sign High School Pitcher Carter Stewart, and he grabbed Shea Langeliers with the compensation pick in the very next draft. Anthopoulos hit again by signing shortstop Beau Philip under slot value, but that gave him enough money to sign the super talented Michael Harris away from his Texas Tech commitment. Of course, the Braden Shewmake pick was widely criticized at the time, but he has been very solid for the Braves. His teammate at Texas A&M, Kasey Kalich, looks pretty good too.
Atlanta had a strange draft in 2020, as did everyone. It was only five rounds, but all five guys look like hits. Jared Shuster, Jesse Franklin, Bryce Elder, and ESPECIALLY Spencer Strider have been great so far. One thing has remained consistent in a small sample size — the Braves target talented college players.
I have a scouting report for the first ten picks you can read here. I talked about the draft on Twitter and started noticing a pattern:
The Braves picked up so many Seniors yesterday, I wouldn’t be shocked if they threw the kitchen sink at some high school overslot players today.
— SportsTalkATL Jake (@cantguardjake) July 13, 2021
My prediction came true, as the Braves went from focusing on college upperclassmen like Ryan Cusick, Spencer Schwellenbach, Dylan Dodd, Luke Waddell, and others, and immediately took a high-upside high school arm in Adam Shoemaker. However, the Braves went right back to dipping into the college talent pool. After taking Shoemaker, the Braves drafted eight straight college players. They only took four high school players overall. The high school players they did splurge on — especially Tyler Collins — appear to be very talented.
All of these guys aren’t guaranteed to sign, but it becomes a lot more likely that they do if they have already finished (or almost) finished their degree. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still talented players, but it’s clear the Braves are going to prioritize talented college players from here on out. So far, the strategy is paying dividends.