Braves wrap Draft with plenty of pitchers
Atlanta focuses on hurlers after grabbing position players early
ATLANTA -- As the Braves progressed through the second day of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, general manager Frank Wren and director of scouting Tony DeMacio both expressed the importance of drafting pitchers as the days passed.
They accomplished that Wednesday.
Over the final two days of the Draft, the Braves spent 23 of their 49 picks on pitchers, with 14 going on Tuesday and nine more following on Wednesday.
"We'd like some more pitching, of course," DeMacio said Tuesday. "We took a lot of position guys last year. We're not going to pass on a good position guy, but we'd like to get some more pitching now when we get to the sixth round."
The fact of the matter is the position players weren't as strong in this year's Draft class according to some, which is why the Braves spent three of their first five -- and six of their first 10 picks overall -- on position players.
|1||PIT||RHP Gerrit Cole|
|2||SEA||LHP Danny Hultzen|
|3||ARI||RHP Trevor Bauer|
|4||BAL||RHP Dylan Bundy|
|5||KC||OF Bubba Starling|
|6||WAS||3B Anthony Rendon|
|7||ARI||RHP Archie Bradley|
|8||CLE||SS Francisco Lindor|
|9||CHC||SS Javier Baez|
|10||SD||2B Cory Spangenberg|
|11||HOU||OF George Springer|
|12||MIL||RHP Taylor Jungmann|
|13||NYM||OF Brandon Nimmo|
|14||FLA||RHP Jose Fernandez|
|15||MIL||LHP Jed Bradley|
|16||LAD||LHP Chris Reed|
|17||LAA||1B C.J. Cron|
|18||OAK||RHP Sonny Gray|
|19||BOS||RHP Matt Barnes|
|20||COL||LHP Tyler Anderson|
|21||TOR||RHP Tyler Beede|
|22||STL||2B Kolten Wong|
|23||WAS||RHP Alex Meyer|
|24||TB||RHP Taylor Guerrieri|
|25||SD||RHP Joe Ross|
|26||BOS||C Blake Swihart|
|27||CIN||RHP Robert Stephenson|
|28||ATL||LHP Sean Gilmartin|
|29||SF||SS Joe Panik|
|30||MIN||SS Levi Michael|
|31||TB||OF Mikie Mahtook|
|32||TB||SS Jake Hager|
|33||TEX||LHP Kevin Matthews|
On Wednesday, however, the club did draft seven consecutive position players in between six more pitchers.
"There seems to be some obscurity of the position players," Wren said. "We're finding that in the amateur ranks and we're also finding that in the professional ranks, in the Minor Leagues and our scouting."
Once the Braves got the position players they wanted, they turned their focus to pitching. Seventeen of their 24 drafted pitchers were right-handed, while the other seven -- including first-round pick Sean Gilmartin out of Florida State -- were lefties.
"One thing is you can never have enough pitching," Wren said. "We always say that, but it's true."
But the Braves didn't just stock up on arms. In addition to their newfound pitching, they drafted nine outfielders, seven corner infielders, six middle infielders and four catchers.
"You never have enough middle infielders," DeMacio said. "You really don't. Just look around baseball. If you can develop your own and not have to go buy one, [it's a good thing]. The more you have, the more value it gives you."
The Braves will soon find out if any of those players up the middle and in the outfield can give them the speed they desire, something the club has tried to address. The Braves have never been known as a running team and have a Major League-low 13 stolen bases this season. The Rangers lead the Majors with 63.
"We need some speed. We talked about that last year," DeMacio said. "We need some speed, we need some power. We felt like we got a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Considering where we're picking with all of those other picks gone, we're just trying to plug away."
On Wednesday, the Braves also continued a recent trend of drafting college players over high school products. Atlanta, long known as a team that focused mostly on the prep ranks, took 10 consecutive college players -- and 27 of the first 30 overall -- to begin this year's Draft.
It continued on Day 3 -- albeit evening out somewhat -- as the Braves drafted 12 more collegiate athletes and eight high school students.
The Braves won't know for quite a while just how successful this year's Draft class was, as players will need time to develop in the farm system before Atlanta can determine their value to the Major League club. But there's no denying that Wren and the Braves -- along with every other team -- feel as though they drafted the players necessary to continue pushing their franchise in a positive direction.
"There's some excitement in the room about the guys we've gotten already," Wren said.
Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.