Day two is my favorite day of the Rule 4 Draft. Day one sees the first two rounds, with the usual suspects coming off the boards, more or less. It's on the second day where we can really see organizational priorities and strategies taking place. Teams make 8 rounds of selections (3-10) on the second day, and because of slot signing bonuses, you'll generally see most teams prioritize signability in these middle rounds. The Braves were no different this year. That isn't to say that players taken towards the end of the day aren't very talented, just that there may be more projection required with these picks than in years past.
So, without further ado, let's jump into the first half of the Braves 2013 day two draftees. The second half will be posted later this week
Carlos Salazar, RHP. Round 3, Pick 102.
Carlos Salazar is, in my opinion, the crown jewel of Atlanta's day two class. Salazar is a right handed-pitcher out of Kerman High School in California and is a true power pitcher. At this point, his fastball is his only plus offering, but it's killer, sitting 94 to 95 and routinely touching as high as 97. As for offspeed offerings, Salazar features a sharp, late-breaking slider that has the potential to be a consistent plus pitch in the future. The slider often flashes plus even now, but Salazar needs to refine his command of the pitch (he often can't throw it for strikes) and his release. Salazar also throws a changeup, but as of now it's nothing more than a show-me pitch. Some scouts say he's been working on a curveball fairly consistently in workouts/warmups, but has yet to use it in a game. It remains to be seen whether or not the Braves will encourage that development any further, or simply ask him to work on the three he has a grasp on currently.
Mechanically, Salazar is a mixed bag. His delivery to the plate features a little crow-hop; think Jordan Walden, but not as dramatic. The Braves in recent years have shown a hesitancy to tinker with peculiar mechanics (see Alex Wood) so I imagine they will let that be, assuming it doesn't raise any susbtantial red flags. Salazar's arm action is actually fairly low stress for someone who is touching the upper-90s with his fastball, which is always a good thing to see; a more jerky/stressful arm action can be a sign of impending injury. When throwing his slider, Salazar will occasionally fly open, which can really flatten out his breaking ball.
In Salazar, the Braves have someone who could be a frontline starter down the road or a late-inning bullpen guy if he fails to develop a third major-league-average pitch. But you can't teach velocity, and right now that's Salazar's greatest weapon. Atlanta will bring him along slowly (he's only a high school senior) and try and help him develop his offspeed pitches and his command.
Salazar has already signed with Atlanta, reportedly for a bonus that "significantly" exceeded the $505,700 slot recommendation.
Check out Salazar's slider at 1:36 and again at 1:44 (slow-mo), and you'll see why Braves Scouting Director Tony DeMacio is excited about Salazar's "really good" breaking ball.
Tanner Murphy, C. Round 4, Pick 133.
After drafting a right-handed pitcher and a catcher on day one, the Braves doubled down, grabbing Salazar and catcher Tanner Murphy with their first two picks on day two. Murphy is a high school senior out of Malden High School in Missouri, where he excelled as a two-way player. Murphy won conference player of the year honors this year, after hitting .600 with 10 home runs.
Scouting reports on Murphy are few and far between, as he really didn't garner too much national attention before this year. The Braves expect Murphy to stick behind the dish moving forward, and it's not hard to see why. Several scouts say he seems comfortable behind the plate calling games, and his experience as a pitcher benefits him in this area. At 6-1 and 210 pounds, Murphy has the big, atheletic frame needed to excel as a catcher. In exhibitions, he's been clocked with a pop time between 1.82 and 1.87 seconds. For comparison, Christian Bethancourt is 6-2, 220 pounds, with a pop time is around 1.78 - one of the best in the minors.
With the bat, Murphy can spray the ball to all fields with good line-drive power and considerable backspin. This results in a ton of doubles, but his frame suggests he could add bulk and possibly push some of those doubles over the fence. It's unclear how his bat will profile at the next level, as he's been scouted almost exclusively against lesser competition and using aluminum bats.
If catching doesn't work out (it should) then there's always a chance Murphy could move to the mound, where he sat in the low 90s in high school.
Murphy has already signed with the Braves, for an undisclosed amount. The recommended slot bonus was $375,000.
Mikey Reynolds, SS. Round 5, Pick 163.
The Braves popped their first college senior in round 5, selecting Texas A&M shortstop Mikey Reynolds with the 163rd overall pick. Reynolds was A&M's leadoff hitter this year, where he posted a slash line of .342/.413/.431. One thing that jumps out immediately is the power, or lack thereof. Reynolds will never hit for a ton of power, and his power ceiling is probably as a line-drive doubles hitter, although even that is far from a sure thing. But what does he do well? For starters, he's got a short stroke that's quick and compact, which allows him to spray the ball pretty well when he's seeing pitches well. His K% and BB% both sat around 9% during his senior year, which will be be a great benefit to him if he can carry that eye over to professional baseball. He also stole 19 bases in 26 attempts this year. He's an above average runner, but not too much more than that.
On the diamond, he played nothing but shortstop, but some scouts doubt his ability to stick at the position long-term. More than likely, his defensive ceiling at the major league level is that of a utility guy - someone who can fill in at short but is probably more suited to second base in the bigs.
Said DeMacio: "[Reynolds] is a high-energy, leadership-type guy who can play all the infield positions...he's very similar in makeup to [Nick] Ahmed."
Reynolds has already signed with the Braves, for an undisclosed amount. The recommended slot bonus was $280,800.
Reynolds talks a bit about his game in this 7-minute interview.
Stephen Janas, RHP. Round 6, Pick 193
The Braves went back to the college ranks in the sixth round, selecting Stephen Janas with the 193rd pick. A junior out of Kennesaw State, Janas is recovering from Tommy John surgery that sidelined him in March of 2012. Janas returned from surgery after 10 months to post a 1.14 ERA in Atlantic Sun play in 2013. Janas is a giant of a man, checking in at 6-foot-6, though his 190 pound frame suggests he could add more muscle.
Janas's best asset is his plus command - he only walked 14 men in 78.2 innings his junior year - which allows him to compete without elite velocity. His fastball sits in the high 80s with plenty of sink and movement, and he also throws a curve and a changeup, both of which could end up being major-league average. As of now, given his velocity and command, his ceiling is that of a back-end major league starter. But this pick is also about projection. Given that he's recovering from Tommy John surgery, and given that his frame lends itself to projection, the Braves believe that there's a very real chance that he could add velocity down the line.
Said DeMacio: "We like the way his arm works. He's got a nice, loose, easy delivery, and we think he's going to throw a lot harder."
Janas has already signed with the Braves, for the recommended slot bonus of $210,200.
Quotes courtesy of Eric Single, MLB.com.