Day two of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, and the Atlanta Braves continue to take high ceiling talent with their early picks. After selecting Lucas Sims in the first round yesterday, and Alex Wood in the second round today, the Braves have also been focusing on high school talent.
Here is a pick by pick overview with scouting reports:
Bryan de la Rosa, Catcher
3rd Round, 116 Overall
This short high school catcher has some of the best catch-and-throw tools in the draft. A native of Puerto Rico, he attended the Bucky Dent Baseball Academy in Florida, and is a Florida State recruit (though apparently did not sign with FSU). Depending on which review you believe, he is between 5'9" and 5'11" tall, but he's still young and could continue to grow. Atlanta continues a trend in this draft of picking high-risk, high-reward players, and de la Rosa is no exception. He will take time to develop, but should benefit from a system like the Braves, which has produced excellent catchers in recent years.
His bat may only play as average down the line, but if he continues his development, his catching skills should make him an above average backstop behind the plate. While that is likely his development floor, his ceiling could be much higher depending on how his bat comes around. Great pick by the Braves to take a high school catcher this year, they've gotten into a habit of taking college catchers without much projection the last few years.
You can view videos from his Perfect Game skills showcase here. These videos show his impressive release times on his throws to second.
Justin Black, Center Field
4th Round, 149 Overall
The Braves take another high school player, this time a center fielder from ... wait for it ... Billings, Montana. Being from a place that doesn't really have baseball, Black is a very raw player who will need a lot of development time. This pick reminds me of the Braves 2007 2nd-round pick Jon Gilmore, who didn't play that much baseball growing up in Iowa.
Black's main tool is his speed, but he has other tools lurking under the surface that only need reps to come to the forefront. He has a short, compact, and quick swing that should generate a lot of contact and pull power. Black is naturally right-handed, but has recently become a switch-hitter.
He has a strong commitment to Nebraska, but this is a higher than expected selection for Black, and that should be enough to convince him to sign with the Braves. He was ranked as the 474th-best prospect by Baseball America, so going at 149 is quite a compliment by Atlanta. He was rated as the 100th best high school player by ESPN.
Black had a private workout for the Braves in Atlanta last week. The Braves spent last year's draft selecting speedy players, and this looks like a continuation of that.
The next three picks are after the jump...
Blake Brown, Outfield
5th Round, 179 Overall
The Braves nab a raw and toolsy college Junior with their fifth pick. This kid is the definition of high-risk, high-reward. He has terrific overall tools, but apparently doesn't play up to their full potential, holding back at times. Brown possesses good speed and has lots of power potential, but strikes out far too much, revealing a hesitant and unrefined approach to the plate. But teams can't always draft finished products, and it will be up to the Braves system to mold Brown into the player his tools say he can be. That ceiling could be very high.
Josh Elander, Catcher
6th Round, 209 Overall
While listed and drafted as a catcher, Elander only converted to catching full time last year. While he has a tremendous work ethic and off-the-charts makeup, he will likely move from catcher at some point, as his receiving skills and arm only grade as average. He looks destined for right field, and his bat should produce enough power to play well there.
Elander played well for the USA Collegiate team in the summer of 2011, but struggled in the wood bat Cape Cod League the year before. Some folks thought he might jump up to the first round this year, and Baseball America ranked him as the 112th best pre-draft prospect, but concerns about his inability to stick behind the plate may have seen him fall. The Braves get a good value pick here, but they may have to go over slot to sign him away from his senior year at Texas Christian University.
Here is a great scouting video of Elander.
David Starn, Left-Handed Pitcher
7th Round, 239 Overall
The Braves reach into Ohio to select a senior pitcher from Kent State. The former walk-on, Starn was the Golden Flashes' ace this year, posting a 2.03 ERA, a .213 average against, and helping them to win the Mid-American Conference Tournament and earn an NCAA Regional Title. He will be a big part of the team as they take on Oregon this weekend in the Super Regionals.
Starn is not going to blow anyone away, though he does hold the career strikeout record for Kent State. He's a command pitcher similar to Jamie Moyer, with a high-80s fastball, but he can command all of his pitches and throw every one of them for strikes. That kind of pitcher has never scared the Braves off. He should be someone who can flourish in the Atlanta system.
You can follow David on Twitter @dstarn37.
The remainder of today's picks (8-15) will be reviewed in a separate post that will be up later tonight.