The 2013 edition of the MLB Rule IV Draft starts tonight at 7 PM EDT on MLB Network with the first two rounds. For the second year in a row, the Houston Astros have the top selection.
For Braves fans, you'll have some time to waste before Atlanta gets to make its first selection, as the Atlanta doesn't pick until #31 overall in the first compensation round. The Braves gave up their original pick to sign B.J. Upton, but were awarded the 31st pick when Cleveland finally took Michael Bourn off the market and signed him to a four-year deal in February.
The draft tends to get pretty unpredictable after about the first 20 picks, which is what makes it so tough to correctly mock the last part of the first round and compensation round. However, they are a very useful tool in giving folks an idea of a few names that each team is considering should those prospects make it to that part of the draft.
With the draft in just a few hours, here's a compilation of the latest versions of the biggest mock drafts out there to help give a idea of what the Braves could do with the 31st pick.
-Baseball America's Jim Callis has the Braves taking Kentucky high school left-hander Hunter Green.
Green is a 6'4", 180-pounder from Warren East HS in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He's a projectable left-handed pitcher that saw his velocity tick up toward the mid-90's during his high school season in which he dominated to the tune of 110 strikeouts and a 0.14 ERA in 51 innings pitched. He is committed to the University of Kentucky. Baseball America ranks him as the 31st best player in the draft, and he has worked out for Atlanta, Tampa, and Texas among others.
From MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo:
While he's had some delivery issues that impact his control and command, they seem correctable. That should help him throw his sharp, biting curve more consistently to go along with his sinking changeup.
It's all about projection for the southpaw, but a team that thinks Green can fulfill his potential will be interested in taking him early on in the Draft.
-Chris Crawford of ESPN and mlbdraftinsider.com has the Braves taking Jacksonville University ace Chris Anderson.
Anderson is a 6'4" right-handed pitcher who burst onto the scene this season throwing mid-90's with a slider that flashed plus. However, Anderson was used heavily by his college team and fatigue set in that depressed his stuff during the middle of the season before rebounding at the end. Another potential big, projectable arm for the Braves. Baseball America ranks him as the 45th best prospect in the draft.
Anderson's fastball will touch 97 mph and is consistently at least above average with good sink. He throws a nasty slider, and his changeup projects to be a legitimate weapon as well.
Anderson has above-average control and command and the ideal athletic frame scouts love to see in a pitcher. There's room for gaining strength, which gives him a high ceiling as well.
He throws his fastall up to 92-93 mph and a power curve. His breaking ball and changeup are both average, giving him the makings of a good three-pitch mix.
His results over the summer were a bit mixed, throwing well at the Area Code Games, but struggling with fastball command elsewhere. That didn't keep him from getting a ton of attention this spring, though he's dealt with some inconsistencies during his senior season as well. The raw stuff from the left side should keep many first-round teams interested on Draft day.
-John Sickels of Minor League Ball projects the Braves to select Georgia high school outfielder Josh Hart.
Hart, 6'1", 185-pounds, attends Parkview High School in Liburn, Georgia. The Braves went back to drafting locally last year, and Hart makes a lot of sense if that is the decision this year as well. Hart currently plays center field, and has good chance to stick there thanks to above average speed. He is committed to Georgia Tech. He is the 57th best draft prospect according to Baseball America.
He profiles as a top-of-the-order type, a guy who will use his speed on both sides of the ball to be a basestealing threat and an excellent defender in the outfield. He's a slashing slap-and-run hitter with a short stroke that sprays line drives at times.
Hart is an outstanding athlete who reminds some of a Denard Span or Ben Revere-type player who can become a tablesetter atop a big league lineup in the future.
Some other names that have been mentioned with Atlanta are Texas high school outfielder Billy McKinney, California high school left-hander Matt Krook, University of California catcher Andrew Knapp, Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo and Mississippi junior college left-hander Cody Reed among others.
As a refresher, Atlanta has a draft bonus pool of $4,522,300 to sign its first ten picks with. That pool is the fourth lowest bonus amount among Major League teams. The Braves' slot value for their first pick at 31 is valued at $1,704,200.
In addition to the 31st pick, Atlanta also has the 65th overall pick in the second round. We'll have complete coverage of those two picks tonight as soon as they happen.