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Grading the Braves 2020 MLB Draft class

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College World Series - Michigan v Vanderbilt - Game One Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The 2020 MLB Draft is now over and the Atlanta Braves have added four new players into the organization, three of whom are pitchers and all of them college players.

As a quick recap, here is a look at all of the players the Braves drafted this year:

  1. Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest - A breakout last summer in the Cape Cod League who continued his success into the spring in a short sample size. We don’t know that he can hold the newfound stuff or command with a full season workload, but he is intriguing. Shuster may not be the highest upside pick out there, but he is a legitimate potential middle of the rotation starter with strong pitchability and quality stuff. Shuster is also a guy who is familiar with analytics after working with them close at Wake, a program known to use them closely. Shuster was taken as an underslot pick, though the amount under isn’t known yet.

2. No pick, Marcell Ozuna signing - This one hurts as it cost the Braves a talented player and the pool associated with the pick for a player who may or may not play for them with the season in the air.

3. Jesse Franklin, OF, Michigan - Jesse Franklin was a potential Top 50 pick before the year after leading Michigan to the finals of last year’s College World Series. Then just days before the season it was announced he would miss a month or two following a skiing accident, and he never got to debut before things shut down. Franklin is an interesting mix of power and speed, with some hitting ability as well. The biggest issue with him is that he hasn’t hit for both average and power together, and his time in the Cape saw him hit for very minimal power with a sub-.400 SLG last year. There is potential with Franklin, but he will need to make some adjustments in the minors before he is ready.

4. Spencer Strider, RHP, Clemson - The Braves went way off the board with this pick to the point I hadn’t considered Strider as a prospect for this year as a redshirt sophomore. Strider was a top recruit three years ago, saw a large role as a freshman and struggled a bit with command, then missed last year after Tommy John surgery. He was back this year in the short season, but he hasn’t shown much to get him drafted in college prior to this season and has real reliever risk with his delivery and health history. The good news is he is a live arm with some stuff, so it’s not like the Braves didn’t draft a potential lottery ticket if they can get him back to being the pitcher he was out of high school.

5. Bryce Elder, RHP, Texas - Probably my favorite pick of the draft for the Braves. Elder has been the Texas ace since the start of last year and has pitched well in big games. While not overpowering, he has a mix of some stuff, great pitchability, strong results, and some potential to improve since he is still fairly new to baseball full time. He profiles as a No. 4 starter with potential to grow into a No. 3 and a floor as a No. 5.

Overall Impressions

I don’t love or hate this draft. There are pieces I like and also picks I question. I like this draft, but I really question where is the swing at an upside guy? Where is the attempt to fill the massive depth holes in the lower minors that the team knows to be an issue?

I believe the Braves were all set to draft Nick Bitsko at 25, until he came off at 24 to Tampa. I also have some reason to believe players like prep slugger Blaze Jordan were in the mix before being drafted before the Braves, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of true upside in this class. For that reason I would probably grade this class a solid “B” in total.