Day three of the MLB First Year Player Draft, and the picks come fast and furious today. Many of these players will not sign, or will be difficult for the Atlanta Braves to sign, but there are always one or two interesting picks on day three.
Fernelys Sanchez, Outfield
16th Round, 509 Overall
The Braves dip back into the high school ranks to open the third day of the draft. He was ranked as the 302nd best prospect by Baseball America, and fell this low in the draft likely because of broken fibula in his left leg that he suffered while sliding back into a bag earlier this year. When healthy he's one of the fastest players in the draft, with plus-plus speed and plus range in center field. At 6-foot-4 he's got a good frame for baseball, but there's still a question about how his bat will play at the next level. If he signs, and if he can hit, he could have a huge ceiling.
Chase Anselment, Outfield
17th Round, 539 Overall
A Junior left fielder from the University of Washington, also played a lot of catcher throughout his collegiate career. He's a power hitter who also hits for average and isn't afraid to go the other way. He was one of the top prospects in the wood bat West Coast league in 2010, leading the league in home runs, but he didn't fare so well last year in the Cape Cod League. Here is some video of him hitting some home runs in the WCL. This pick represents the Braves desire to add power to their system, but we'll have to wait and see whether or not his power can translate to the pros.
Ross Heffley, Second Base
18th Round, 569 Overall
The Braves dip back into Brookwood High School in Snellville, Georgia. Heffley spent his prep years there, and the Braves draft him as a Senior out of Western Carolina University. This short, 5-foot-8 second baseman was a standout at WCU, earning All-American honors last year. He hits for a high average, gets on base well, and doesn't strike out much (35 BB vs. 14 SO this year). He has some Dan Uggla-lite pop in his bat, and good speed on the bases, as well as a strong throwing arm at second. This continues a solid string of picks for the Braves in recent years of good-hitting second basemen.
Reviews for the 19th through 25th picks are after the jump...
Levi Hyams, Second Base
19th Round, 599 Overall
One good second baseman deserves another, so sayeth the Braves draft room. This time though, he's a little taller at 6-foot-2. He's also the second Levi the Braves have taken in this draft. Hyams is a Senior at UGA, so there again, second UGA player taken in the draft. Levi slumped horribly at the plate his Senior season, but was still a .300 career hitter at UGA. He's a solid hitter for average with some gap power when he's going right and using the whole field. Solid pick for the Braves, as he'll provide some good leadership and veteran college experience in the Atlanta system.
Eric Garcia, Shortstop
20th Round, 629 Overall
The Junior shortstop from Missouri is the teammate of Braves fifth-round pick Blake Brown, and tied Brown for the team lead in stolen bases this season. He was recently named the Most Outstanding Player of the Big 12 Baseball Tournament, helping Missouri win the Tourney. He's a decent, but not great, hitter, and an above average defender at shortstop. Solid organizational pick, though I wonder if he'll return to school for his Senior year and try to raise his draft stock.
Jeremy Fitzgerald, Right-Handed Pitcher
21st Round, 659 Overall
Out of Tennessee Wesleyan, this Junior pitcher was drafted two years ago by the Cubs in the 38th round from Patrick Henry Junior College. Articles at the time seemed to indicate he was excited to go pro, but that apparently didn't work out. He seemed to be a pretty highly rated player coming out of high school and Junior College, but I can't find any scouting reports on him recently. He was named the Appalachian Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year, and put up pretty good numbers at TWC. You can follow him on Twitter @Jwfitz4.
Shae Simmons, Right-Handed Pitcher
22nd Round, 689 Overall
An undersized Junior righty starter from Southeast Missouri State University, Simmons has a solid three-pitch mix. As a starting pitcher his fastball sits in the low 90s, but fades at the end of games, leading some to believe that his future is as a reliever. As a reliever last year in Summer ball, his fastball sat in the mid-90s, touching 96mph. He also has a hard slider and a tumbling changeup, all with a max-effort delivery that can at times lead to some wildness.
Kevin McKague, First Baseman
23rd Round, 719 Overall
This is the second time the Braves have drafted McKague, a Senior at West Point. They selected him with the 50th pick in last year's draft. He was the Black Knight's shutdown closer for several years, but an injury limited his season last year, and he took a medical red shirt to come back for one more season, where he was again a shutdown closer. Of course, as the Knight's first baseman, he also led the team in hitting. Yesterday he found out that he was one of five semifinalists for the 2012 John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award. The Braves have a history of drafting players from West Point, having drafted and signed reliever Matt Fouch in 2010, before he had to leave to fulfill his two-year service requirement. McKague looks like a talented pitcher, even if the Braves have to wait a couple of years before they can really get him into their organization.
Michael Flores, Right-Handed Pitcher
24th Round, 749 Overall
This kid is tall, 6-foot-9 tall. But he's only a Freshman at Grossmont College in California, and does not seemed to have harnessed his size yet, as his stats don't reflect much success this past season. If he signed with Atlanta, he would be a work in progress, but at 6-foot-9 he would be an impressive work in progress. (Interestingly enough, the Braves already have a player named Michael Flores in their system, a left-handed pitcher on their Dominican team. He's only 6 feet tall.)
Brandon Rohde, Left-Handed Pitcher
25th Round, 779 Overall
Rohde is a 6-foot-3 lefty from Central Washington University. He was a second-team All Conference pitcher last year, but seemed to struggle at times this year. He's a Senior, so he's likely to sign and get some time in the Braves system.
Reviews of the remaining Braves draft picks will be posted later tonight.