The Atlanta Braves wrapped up day two of the 2021 MLB Draft Monday by selecting nine more players, seven of which were college players. Atlanta began the day selecting a two-way player, Spencer Schwellenbach out of Nebraska in the second round with the 59th pick overall. Schwellenbach pitched and played shortstop but Braves scouting director Dana Brown made it clear that the team sees him as a pitcher going forward and were excited to get him.
“The plan was, of course, as always to take the best player available,” Brown said. “We were actually very excited, because we had some first round numbers on Schwellenbach and he was there in the second round so we were really excited to get him.”
“I love to get college shortstops that end up on the mound because of their athleticism, their arm strength for the position, their body control. So we really started to talk about him last fall. We got him on our radar in the spring, but we finally saw him in a fall and early this year, we really scouted him a ton.”
“We think he could start. He’s been up to 99 and he has a really good changeup and a good breaking ball. We feel like he’s going to be a starter for us,” Brown added. “This is probably one of my favorite picks I could say of my career. I was so excited to get this guy.”
Brown also said that they made it clear to Schwellenbach that while they liked him as a shortstop, they think his future is as a pitcher.
“We like you at shortstop, but we like you better on the mound and we think you’re going to do great things for this organization.”
The Braves took left-hander Dylan Dodd out of Southeast Missouri State with their third pick and then grabbed Texas Tech shortstop Cal Conley in the fourth round.
“One of our one of our scouts spent a lot of times seeing Texas Tech and got a chance to see him in multiple games and he got a chance to see some power,” Brown said of Conley. “He’s an aggressive swinger, he can really run and he’s a switch hitter. We think this guy’s really got a chance to do some good things for us.”
The Braves then tapped into the local market drafting Georgia Tech shortstop Luke Waddell and third baseman Justyn-Henry Malloy with their next two picks. Waddell batted .309/.402/.474 with a team-high 71 hits over 56 games in 2021 and
“For Waddell, you have a guy that could play shortstop, second base, very good defender, a lot of contact, doesn’t strike out,” Brown said. “I saw him a couple years ago, when he was playing with the USA team and he was an exciting player.”
Malloy hit .308/.436/.558 with a team-most 43 RBI to help lead Georgia Tech to the ACC Coastal division title.
“We think Malloy could play infield and potentially play the outfield as well,” Brown said. “He walks a lot and he definitely has some power. We think we get him in a professional environment and he’s got a chance to take off. He’s a good body guy, got some upside to some strength and maybe he’s got a chance to come into some power. He’s really just hitting his stride now because he was a northeast kid who, they don’t get to play as much up in the northeast. So we think this may be an early detection thing where we got him.”
All of those college picks paved the way for the Braves to save some money where they could afford to dip into the high school ranks with their seventh and eighth round selections. Atlanta took right-hander AJ Smith-Shawver with their pick in the seventh round and then nabbed outfielder Tyler Collins in the eighth.
Smith-Shawver was a two-sport star that was committed to Texas Tech. Brown said that they were able to meet his number to convince him to stick with baseball.
“We were talking to his advisor and they had a specific number that they were looking for and we were able to meet it. We love that he’s a two-sport guy because we know that that he’s really athletic, good, strong physical kid. We think he’s got some upside to be pretty special. He’s been clocked as high as 96 and we’re excited about him.”
Collins is a speedy outfielder from Texas that Brown said they jumped on early and scouted he heavily.
“We jumped on him early with some of our veteran scouts and those guys, we are really excited about him and we feel very fortunate,” Brown said of Collins. “His price tag was a little high, but at the end of the day we saved some money on some of the college players that we took earlier and we were able to get him done.”
Atlanta selected catcher Liam McGill from Bryant University in the ninth round and then used their final pick of day two on 6’6 right-hander Dylan Spain who landed on the team’s radar after attending a tryout camp.
“This was one of those situations where our area scout did a good job. He’s been following this guy. We had meetings in California. He brought him out after the meetings. We had like a tryout camp where we had a workout and this kid came in and he was throwing up to 97 on the gun. He threw a hard slider and kind of blew us away.”
Through their first 10 picks, the Braves have taken five pitchers, three infielders, one outfielder and a catcher. Eight of the first 10 picks were college players. Even better, Brown said Monday that they are on track to sign all of their first 10 picks.
“We talked to their advisors, we talked to the kids and we are on schedule to get them all done,” Brown said. “They are going to come in, they are going to get physicals and we are going to get going.”
We will be back on Tuesday with more coverage from the final 10 rounds of the 2021 Draft so be sure to check back.