The Braves 1982 Draft & Randy Johnson

It will be a small side note to history, but the Atlanta Braves 1982 June draft was an interesting one, when one looks back on it today. With their first pick Atlanta selected Duane Ward, who would go on to save 121 games in the majors. But before he could collect even one save for Atlanta, in 1986 Atlanta traded him to the Blue Jays for Doyle Alexander. Of course, a year later Doyle was sent packing to Detroit for John Smoltz. That marked the seventh time Alexander had been traded by a big league club, and the second time the Braves had traded him. Ward won two games against the Braves in the 1992 World Series, John Smoltz won one game.

It's worth mentioning that on the same day in 1986 that the Braves traded Ward to the Blue Jays, they also traded their second round pick from the 1982 draft, Joe Johnson, to those same Blue Jays, for Jim Acker. Three years later, the Braves traded Acker back to the Blue Jays for Francisco Cabrera.

In the third round of the 1982 draft, the Braves selected Zane Smith, who had a long and average career, and was known mostly for being one of the ugliest players in baseball, with what was quite a pronounced overbite. The Braves upped the ugly ante with the next player they drafted, none other than Randy Johnson. Yes, just retired future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. He was the Braves' 1982 fourth round draft pick... who did not sign.

So there you have it, one of the best fastball pitchers in baseball history could have been a Brave.

In the thirteenth round in 1982, the Braves selected high school shortstop and future Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer. The light hitting Meyer never made it out of rookie ball.

The Atlanta Braves won the NL West in 1982, and Dale Murphy won the MVP, his first of two consecutive MVP awards. Randy Johnson would go on to attend the University of Southern California, and would again be drafted, this time by the Expos in the second round in 1985. That year, the Braves didn't have a second round choice, having given it up for signing Bruce Sutter away from the Cardinals. The Cardinals used that pick to select Jim Fregosi. The 1985 draft, by the way, is often considered the Best Draft Ever.

Other notable players whom the Braves drafted but never signed since 1982 include Jay Buhner in the 9th round in 1983, Steve Finley in the 11th round, Tim Salmon in the 18th round, and Ben McDonald in the 27th round of the 1986 draft, Jose Cruz Jr. in the 15th round of the 1992 draft, Delwyn Young in the 13th and Tony Gwynn Jr. in the 33rd round of the 2000 draft, and Delwyn Young again in the 29th round of the 2001 draft.

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