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2016 MLB Draft: Why the Braves should target Brandon Marsh at 40th overall

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With most of the attention on what the Braves are going to do with the 3rd overall pick, we take one perspective on what the Braves should do with the 40th overall pick

Brandon Sudge

This article was actually written by former Talking Chop writer Brandon Sudge. Brandon has since moved on to write for his local paper, the Buford Weekly Illustrated, and also blogs at SicEmDawgs.com. "The Sudge" reached out to us on a story about Marsh with tons of useful insights and information and we are happy to share it under our banner.

Draft day is here, and a lot of the hype for the 2016 MLB Draft in regards to the Braves has involved the third overall pick, and rightfully so, as prospects such as Jason Groome, Riley Pint, Kyle Lewis and Corey Ray are potential franchise impacting players available at the top of draft boards. After the third overall draft choice for the Braves lies the 40th overall pick, which will also carry long-term significance and could be integral in deciding on the success of the organizational rebuild. With that, I make my case for Atlanta to draft versatile outfielder Brandon Marsh out of Buford (GA) High School.

Many of the circulating rumors state that the Braves will spend on a high school pitcher after signing a power bat, such as Mercer outfielder Kyle Lewis or Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel. However, look for the Braves to flip the script, as I would project Lewis to be chosen second overall by the Cincinnati Reds, as projected in the latest mock draft by Sporting News, and the Braves would then select the prep hurler out of Kansas, Riley Pint or the hurler with a rising stock in Ian Anderson out of Shenendehowa (NY) High School. After that, with a philosophy similar to that of the 2015 draft, the Braves would yet again be in search of the elusive bat, and Marsh is the answer, and here’s why.

The Braves have solidified prospects at nearly every offensive position, except for the outfield. Atlanta already has their future figured out in two of those positions, as Ender Inciarte and Mallex Smith will interchangeably play left and center field for the distant future. That leaves right field vacant as Nick Markakis doesn’t seem to be the answer when the Braves are ready to be legitimate contenders in 2018 and beyond. Marsh, with elite athleticism and possession of every “tool,” makes the best sense to fill that void.

John Coppolella, John Hart and the Braves front office trust have stated that they are in search of power, and Marsh brings that to the table. According to MLB.com’s list of the top 200 MLB Draft Prospects, he is given a 50 overall rating in terms of power, on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale. On many occurrences, numerous MLB scouts and general managers have been very impressed with Marsh’s bat speed, saying it’s unmatched among fellow draft prospects, according to his high school coaches.

Marsh, with potential power, can also hit for average. In his senior season, he carried an astounding .559 average with only nine strikeouts, which led him to many accolades including region Player of the Year and potentially being the highest draft pick in Buford’s program history.

Along with his numbers at the plate, the aspect of being a two-sport athlete is another reason why the Braves are intrigued by Marsh and his endless range of talent. Marsh was played the key role in leading his Buford baseball team to consecutive state championship appearances, but also was the go-to wide receiver on Buford’s powerhouse football team this past season. With the football team, Marsh had 34 receptions for 506 yards and 8 touchdowns. The importance of being a two-sport athlete was highly emphasized by Braves scouting director Brian Bridges prior to the 2015 draft, and they should follow those same guidelines, as athleticism in more than one sport brings more versatility, as is the case with a five-tool player such as Marsh.

The displayed mutual interest between the Braves organization and Marsh may be just as important as his on-field potential in terms of landing him. Throughout the draft process, which Marsh calls “life-changing and unforgettable,” he and his family have visited Turner Field four times for a workout in front of high-ranking Braves officials, ranging from the general manager to the scouting department. Those numerous invitations show interest in which you don’t see among other draft prospects, regardless of where they’re projected to be chosen.

In similar regard, the Braves would always prefer a local product if he is to fit the mold, as shown with the selection of Lawrenceville, GA native Lucas Sims in the 2012 draft. That factor should make the Braves lean towards Marsh rather than other prospects on the board. As Marsh was on-site to showcase his talents during his numerous trips to Turner Field (at least 2 workouts for the team thus far with a heavy scouting at his hames as well), he was also able to reflect on the potential of playing locally means to him. “The Braves have always been the team I’ve watched since it’s my hometown,” Marsh said. “(With that said), it’d truly be an honor.” Marsh has also had workouts and gauged interest from the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox, but if he’s available at 40th overall, the Braves should emerge as the front-runner based on the flair that comes with signing a potential local star.

Lastly, signs lead to Marsh being selected by Atlanta. According to the latest prospect list published by Baseball America, Marsh is ranked as the 40th overall pick, which is in correlation with the Braves draft order. The future of the Braves organization always has potential to hinge on draft picks, and with Kyle Muller, Forest Whitley and Kevin Gowdy as other potential candidates to be drafted at 40th overall, Marsh could be the best fit for and can be an integral part of the Braves future success.