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Atlanta Braves Draft Day 1: Recapping the picks

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The Braves may not have pleased the fan base with their first round picks, but they went in with a solid plan and executed it nicely. They got 3 top 20 talents and a college bat on the first day.

Braves second pick Joey Wentz.
Braves second pick Joey Wentz.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves played into the rumors that have been floating around for a few days, and went underslot with a pitcher at the first pick. It was a mostly negative reaction to not grabbing a hitter, and only worsened as the next 2 guys they took were also prep pitchers. Still, the gamble payed off with 3 mid to upper first round talents, and a solid catching prospect to round out the day. They received nearly universal praise from outlets like Baseball America, turning a relatively weak draft into a strong crop of talent. Here is some tweet reaction:

1st Pick - 3rd Overall

Ian Anderson-RHP-Shenendehowa HS (NY)

Kyle Lewis slipped to the 3 spot, ripe to pick for Atlanta, but to the chagrin of most of the fanbase they passed on him for a high ceiling high school pitcher. This was a strategic pick to save on bonus money to put to later picks, and the Braves seem to have gotten the player they wanted all along. Brian Bridges raved about Anderson, grading him as future plus on all 3 of pitches and his command. Reports were that they felt that he was the top arm in the draft, so to be able to get him underslot could prove a major coup for the team.

There is a lot of helium to Anderson as well. Northern guys are always seen as underscouted but in Ian's case there was more to it than just a shorter season. He had an injured oblique that kept him off the field for a while, and for an already short season made evaluation tough. Just days before the draft, the Braves scouted Anderson and reported him at 94-97 mph on his fastball. He has a clean delivery and projectability to his frame, so there is a lot to love about this pick.

2nd Pick - 40th Overall

Joey Wentz-LHP-Shawnee Mission East HS (KS)

I loved the Joey Wentz pick. Not liked, loved and supportedly wholeheartedly. Wentz is arguably the equal to Anderson on talent, but fell because of signability concerns. This allowed the Braves to scoop him up with the extra money they had, and now it's about being able to sign him. He gets high praise for his athleticism and ceiling, and is an easy strike thrower. The chance the Braves took materialized in a major way with Wentz, who could have been a mid-1st round pick. Wentz

Wentz is a great athlete, and was potentially going to be drafted as a 1st baseman due to his raw power. He got back on the mound this spring though, and showed out there to leave no doubt that he would remain on the mound. He can run his fastball as high as 95 already. and has a projectable frame as well. There is an impressive amount of arm side run to the pitch as well, making it a very effective pitch. Both of his offspeed pitches grade out as above average for the future, and the thought is that they may end up as plus pitches if he develops well. There is top of the rotation potential for Wentz, something the Braves and sensible fans covet out of a pick this low.

3rd Pick-44th Overall

Kyle Muller-LHP-Jesuit College Prep (TX)

I'm sure the groans of the fans were audible multiple states over when this pick came in. I mean another pitcher this has to be a joke right? The Braves were not joking, and grabbed up another high ceiling arm they felt was the best available at the time. The brick wall that is Kyle Muller is another fantastic athlete, one that slipped for signability concerns and could be a huge coup. He was a quick riser in this draft after making significant strides in the offseason, and could continue to do so as he refines his athleticism into ability.

The biggest jump Muller made was with his fastball, which had sat in the upper 80's prior to the season. He added a lot of strength to get the pitch consistently over 90, topping out in the mid 90's. He has sink on his fastball as well, which helps it play up. His secondary stuff isn't there yet, but there is belief that it along with his control will come as he cleans up his delivery.


4th Pick-75th Overall

Brett Cumberland-C-California-Berkeley

The fans wanted a college hitter, and the Braves delivered one of the most advanced bats in the draft with Cumberland here. He is a guy who could move fairly quickly through the system, and fill the role behind the plate as soon as 2018. There is one piece of caution with Cumberland, his defense, so it will need to develop to the point that he can remain at catcher. If not, he should have the athleticism to move to left field though his value would be significantly downplayed out there.

Cumberland has some serious raw power, and has hit 18 home runs this season for California. He turns on inside pitches well and can drive them, and also has the ability to go opposite field. He also happens to be a switch hitter, an always valuable asset. His best tool is his bat, which is well above average and should get him to the big leagues quickly. Given the lack of soon-to-be-ready players at the catcher position, he will be given an opportunity to win a job hopefully in the near future. I'm a huge fan of the Cumberland pick due to the potential offensive value he provides, and it's a truly slam dunk move if he can remain behind the plate. The biggest quetsion there is his arm strength, which is not all that great.