It’s a weird one this year, but the signing tracker is back for another season of helping you keep up with Braves draftees. With the draft moving to only four rounds there won’t be much action and all four of this year’s picks for the Braves should be considered locks to sign. We’ve added a new section this season for undrafted free agents, which will likely be the bulk of the influx of talent into the system this season. Free agents can sign for up to $20k. With only five rounds and no second rounder the Braves have a thin pool this season, and that clearly affected the strategy of the draft.
The Braves scouting department decided to pass on high ceiling high school talent and go all college players this season, but the overall draft strategy outside of that was hard to place. The Braves went with two likely underslot picks in the first and third rounds, with their 25th overall going to Wake Forest starter Jared Shuster. Shuster is the prize of the pack in overall ceiling, with him getting up to 97 mph on his fastball and having an already well developed change up.
Brad Rowland’s new favorite player Jesse Franklin comes out of Michigan, and he’s a potentially exciting outfield pick for the Braves. A weird skiing injury and the pandemic robbed him of his junior year and a chance to skate up draft boards, but he overall projects as a player with a good all around skill set who could stick in center field. Franklin has a good baseball body, can hit and shows some power and was a four sport athlete in high school.
Spencer Strider basically missed the entirety of his last two college seasons, coming into the draft as an undersized pitcher with a Tommy John surgery and only one full college season. When he is on the mound he has been electric, with 89 strikeouts in 63 innings in college, but the lack of time and the concerns about command and injury with his jerky mechanics make him the most head scratching pick. The regional scout here must have seen something, and it’s hard not to with a guy coming off of surgery already hitting 98 mph on his fastball and flashing a plus slider.
Atlanta rounded out the draft with Bryce Elder, by far the safest pick of the draft and one generally agreed on to be a nice pick. Elder isn’t going to blow anyone away, but what he is is a strong framed durable pitcher, who projects to be a real innings eater at the next level. He has a deep mix of pitches with his downward slider being his most effective and a cutter and sinker that are both pitches he can command. His overall command and pitchability should make him about as safe as any pitcher can be, and he has a decent chance to be a back end starter in Atlanta.
If you are having trouble viewing the sheet, you can find the original google document here
If you want more information on these picks and the development of the draft, you can check out Talking Chop’s draft stream here