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heyward-selected-with-top-pick | June | 2007 Articles

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Heyward Selected with Top Pick

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The Braves were in a position they hadn't been in in years with the 14th overall pick in the June Draft and they made the most of it. In something that has become fairly common, the Braves dipped into the Georgia talent pool and selected Jason Heyward, a 1B/OF from Henry County HS in Mcdonough, GA. Heyward, an Aflac All-American, was considered a lock to go top ten, but as we can see, anything can happen on draft day and the Braves' front office was probably licking their chops after Cleveland took Beau Mills with the 13th pick. Heyward joins Jeff Francoeur, Macay McBride, and Adam Wainwright as Georgia natives taken with the Braves first pick in recent years. John Sickels, the prospect "guru", said that Heyward was the top high school position player in this year's draft. Heyward will most likely make a move to play solely at first in pro-ball as his speed and arm strength should keep him from the outfield. His real value comes at the plate though. Heyward has an incredible build at 6'5" 230 lbs and muscular that makes for exciting power potential at the next level. The best thing about him is that even as a power hitter, the 17-year old has very advanced plate discipline for his age, which means he could also hit for good average. Heyward played centerfield for his high school team but he'll make a move to either leftfield or the more likely scenario, first. He has good range, good hands, an average arm, and great instincts. The view of him ranges from becoming an above average first baseman all the way to gold glove caliber. He doesn't have spectacular speed on the basepaths but for a kid his size it is pretty good and he knows how to run the bases, which could turn into 10-15 stolen bases a year. All in all, there was a tiny chance he dropped this far so I was ecstatic when I heard the Braves selected him. He has a combination of size, strength, smooth swing, and plate discipline that makes him one of the most intriguing bats in this year's draft class. He has a chance to become a special player that hits in the middle of the order and being a hometown kid makes it all the better. He said he was "In awe" about being picked by the Braves and it is very likely he will sign. After what to me was a disappointing first pick last year in Cody Johnson, getting a guy that is called a left-handed Derek Lee was incredibly exciting. First Round Compensation: With the Braves two first round compensation picks (for Danys Baez), they chose Jonathon Gilmore, a HS thirdbaseman out of Iowa and another Georgia native and University of Georgia closer, Joshua Fields. Gilmore shot up the draft board with an improved approach at the plate and has good power potential. Fields had a mediocre year this year because of control problems but a mid-90's fastball and hard slider gives him tons of potential. He will need to improve his control as he works his way up through the minors but he has the potential to be a dominating reliever in the majors. Second Round: The Braves selected high school firstbaseman Freddie Freeman out of California. He is rated as the 7th best high school hitter in this year's class by perfect game. He is 6'5" 210 lbs. and has strong hands, good contact, great bat speed, and easy power. He projects well as a middle of the lineup hitter and is at least average defensively. He was an Aflac All-American. Third Round- With the 108th overall pick, the Braves took shortstop Brandon Hicks out of Texas A&M. Hicks has a great glove and great speed at short, but questions about his bat mean he may be destined to be a defensive utility guy who can also run. Hicks hit .338 with ten homeruns and 28 steals (32 attempts) as well as 20 walks for the Aggies in 272 ABs. Fourth Round: At number 138 overall, the Braves selected Mercer University closer Corey Gearrin. Gearrin is a 6'2" sidearmer who throws a low-90's fastball and a big sweeping slider from the right side. His pitches are only average but his delivery makes the ball hard to pick up. He has decent command as well. Hopefully this is a Joe Smith in the making. Fifth Round: With the 168th overall pick, the Braves selected outfielder Dennis Dixon from the University of Oregon. Dixon was already drafted once but didn't sign as Oregon's top football recruit. His speed, arm, and raw power all are plus tools but without a baseball program at Oregon, he is very raw. He is a high risk, high reward type player that should take a while to move up through the minors.

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