Atlanta Braves 2011 MLB Draft Preview

Studio 42 will once again be draft HQ.

The MLB Draft is a tough one to predict. There is no Mel Kiper who spends his days and nights and everything in between researching and pondering the draft. And really, there's no need for a guy like that. The MLB Draft is nothing like the NFL Draft.

Players drafted the next three days by MLB teams will take years to reach the Majors, though only a small percentage of them will actually play baseball at the highest professional level. Teams will draft players based not on their ability to have an immediate impact, but on their projection as being Major League caliber "some day."

The myriad of stories from Braves news sources over the last few days has pointed towards the Atlanta Braves drafting high school pitching. Talking Chop previewed five prep pitchers the team could select with their first pick, number-28 overall. In the case of each high school pitcher, a different mock draft done by a different draft/prospect analyst predicted a different outcome.

There doesn't seem to be any consensus among the analysts as to who the Braves will pick. Though with so many analysts picking the Braves to select a prep pitcher, that seems to lend itself to somewhat of a consensus on what direction the team will go in this year's draft. Still, some mock drafts have the Braves going in another direction.

Here is a quick look at different mock drafts and which player those drafts have the Braves selecting:

Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus:

Trevor Story, SS, Irving HS (TX). The Braves seem to be focusing on high school pitching and athletes. They like local product Dwight Smith, Jr., but this is too high for him. They've been busy in Texas over the last few years, and Story is an athletic up-the-middle player that could appeal to them.

- Like Smith Jr. but willing to wait
- no way Spangenburg gets here
- Prefer arms and athletes

Baseball America, who has consistently predicted the same player for the Braves:

After loading up on hitters in the 2010 draft, Atlanta could seek some balance with pitchers this time around. Scouting director Tony DeMacio has an affinity for lefthanders, so California prepster Henry Owens, Gilmartin, Osich or Garvin could be his man. Keep an eye on Texas high school shortstop Trevor Story, who had an impressive workout for the Braves. Projected Pick: Henry Owens.

Many more mocks after the jump...

Keith Law, ESPN

Joe Ross, RHP, Bishop O'Dowd HS (Oakland, Calif.)
Atlanta will take the best player available, with high school preferred to college. One thing you can take to the bank is Atlanta sticking to slot, with team president John Schuerholz sitting at the head of MLB's draft reform committee.

Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com

Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso HS, Fla.
A live arm with a good feel for pitching might have Fernandez gone before this point, but if he's around, the Braves like developing young pitching.

John Sickels, Minor League Ball

Dillon Howard, RHP, Arkansas HS: Braves-type draft. I had Goodwin here previously but it sounds like he won't be here by 28.

Three different mock drafts by MLB Bonus Baby produced three different results (link, link, & link):

Robert Stephenson-RHP-HS (CA)
The Braves are a team that always scouts extrememly well but rarely goes overslot, making their picks tough to project. I think they go with the Northern California RHP Stephenson, who started his season by throwing back to back no hitters, including one where he K'd 20.

Trevor Story-SS-HS (Texas)
Atlanta is kind of a tough team to mock as they usually scout very well yet don't go overslot. I think they go with Story who has gained some helium this year and has a very strong arm and a solid chance to stay at SS as well as hit for some power.

Henry Owens- LHP, Edison HS
They prefer the best HS arm that falls.

Prospect Junkies, who have run a ton of mocks, and selected someone different for the Braves each time:

Daniel Norris - LHP - Science Hill HS (TN). 6'3" 180. College Commitment: Clemson.

Update: Henry Owens is another possibility. A sleeper here would be Tennessee prep product Nickey Delmonico.

Previous Mocks: 1.17 Zach Cone, 2.22 Zach Cone, 5.6 Brian Goodwin, 6.2 Jose Fernandez.

Mock Draft Mania had two drafts that seem out of place for the Braves (link & link):

Mike Mahtook OF LSU Mike Mahtook is a quality outfielder worth drafting here and Mahtook should go in the first 30 picks.

Javier Baez SS Arlington Country Day High School Florida The Braves may want to add depth to their infield by taking the best available player. I cannot see the Braves going in a different direction besides Javier Baez.

Other Options

Jose Fernandez P Alonso High School Florida If the Reds foolishly pass on Jose Fernandez the Braves may draft him here.

It's anyone's guess! The answer tonight at 7pm.

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