Which Braves Draft Picks Are Already Turning Heads in Rookie Ball?

Bradley Keller, OF

23 Games, 20-for-66 (.303), .377 OBP, 4 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 4 SB

The Braves had a big emphasis on pitching in the 2015 Draft, but the team added some valuable bats to the farm system as well. Bradley Keller was selected out of high school as a 15th round selection and has been the most consistent contact hitter so far for the GCL Braves. It’s way too early to gauge this kids potential, but he gets a shoutout for finding ways to get on base.

Austin Riley, 3B

(Danville and GCL Braves) 34 games, 34-for-123 (.276), .355 OBP, 7 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 26 RBI

John Hart has done a great job of rebuilding this farm system, but there’s no question that it is seriously lacking power bats. When selected 41st overall, many were unsure whether the team had drafted Austin Riley as a pitcher or hitter. I think they made the right decision keeping this kid at the hot corner. In 123 at bats, Riley already has 8 homers, while maintaining a .355 OBP. If he can continue to play at this level, he will fly up prospect lists. We already have him placed 15th on our list. He could be the next Freddie Freeman-esque offensive star that comes out of the farm.

Mike Soroka, SP

(Danville and GCL Braves) 5 apperances (4 starts), 0-0, 1.29 ERA, 14 IP, 2 ER, 17 K, 3 BB, .109 opp. avg.

The sample size is small, but Mike Soroka really could not do anything more to impress so far in his professional career. Keep in mind that Rookie ball outings are typically short, hence the low innings. However, what sticks out to me is the opponent batting average of .109. Damn. Soroka, who worked with former Braves and fellow Canadian Chris Reitsma, is proving his worth as a first round pick. Just another reason to trust the scouting department as John Hart continues to stockpile draft picks. He ranks 14th on our prospect list.

Matthew Custred, RP

(Danville and GCL Braves) 11 appearances, 1.62 ERA, 16.2 IP, 3 ER, 23 K, 2 BB, .153 opp. avg.

Matthew Custred was drafted in the 31st round, but don’t tell him that. He has been absolutely dynamic out of the Danville bullpen. Custred is out of Texas Tech and is already 21, but relievers have a tendency to work their way up the minor league ranks relatively fast. His high strikeout rate and low walk rate is seriously impressive. He looks like he could be a solid MLB reliever.

Ryan Lawlor, SP

8 appearances (7 starts), 1-0, 2.30 ERA, 27.1 IP, 7 ER, 25 K, 12 BB, .225 opp. avg.

Ryan Lawlor is a product of Braves Country. He hails from Savannah, Georgia, and was drafted in the 8th round out of UGA this year. So far, so good for Lawlor for Danville this season. As the numbers show, he’s making a name for himself in a deeeeeeep draft class of pitchers.

Josh Graham, SP

6 appearances (5 starts), 1-1, 2.60 ERA, 17.1 IP, 5 ER, 21 K, 3 BB, .239 opp. avg.

Another starter, Josh Graham has impressed in his first 6 appearances for Danville. He was a 4th round pick in this year’s draft. Like Custred, what really sticks out is his high strikeout rate and low walk rate. What sets them apart? Graham is a starter. Let’s hope he can continue his success.

Patrick Weigel, SP

8 starts, 0-1, 2.86 ERA, 28.1 IP, 9 ER, 30 K, 11 BB, .228 opp. avg.

Patrick Weigel was taken out of JuCo in the 7th round and is yet another starter who has impressed so for in Rookie ball. It looks like the Braves have both quality and quantity.

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