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Braves Draft Preview

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As baseball's first year player draft quickly approaches you can't help but speculate who could be the newest addition to the Braves organization. Two things are very different about this year's draft. The first is that the June 7th draft will be televised for the first time and the second is that for the first time in many years, John Schuerholz has the luxury of a low pick in the draft at number fourteen overall. Throughout the Braves run the philosophy has been to take high school arms high in the draft, strategy that has been abandoned in recent years with Cody Johnson, Joey Devine, and Eric Campbell each selected with the past three years' first pick.This is a very deep draft, especially in pitching and with two Georgia players as projected first rounders they could also go after the hometown kid with an early pick as they did with Kyle Davies, Chuck James, Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Blaine Boyer, and Macay McBride. I will be previewing five potential picks; four of them pitchers and all of them high schoolers. 1B/OF Jason Heyward- Heyward is the only one of the seven that isn't a pitcher by trade. Heyward is a 6'4" 220 lb out of McDonough, GA. Right now he plays in center, but only slightly above average speed and and a big body that is still growing would move him to either first base or left field. Offensively he is a pretty polished hitter with great plate discipline for such a young guy (won't turn 18 until August). He has gap power right now that could easily translate into 30+ homerun power from the left side with his size and some added strength. He is a good baserunner with good speed for such a big guy that could notch double-digit steals and could be a very good defensive first baseman. The big comparison is Derek Lee from the left side if he reaches his potential as he should hit for good average, power, and steal a couple bases with good defense. Heyward is probably an outside chance to slide to the Braves at fourteen but certainly could make it if some things fall right. RHP/OF Michael Main- Main is one of the top athletes in this years draft and while he could warrant being drafted as an outfielder as well, most teams think his arm will carry him farther. Main is a 6'2" right-hander whose bread and butter is a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 90's. His secondary stuff lags a little behind with a slurve-type pitch that can get a little long at points and a change that he doesn't use much. He could easily develop into a front of the rotation starter as he also boasts good command, but he will need to improve his secondary stuff to get there. LHP Josh Smoker- Smoker, the other Georgia product that the Braves could go with is a 6'2", very polished high school southpaw out of Sugar Valley, GA. Smoker has good velocity for a lefty and works in the low-90's with very good movement, but the velocity could improve as he gets bigger. Smoker, along with having a great name for a pitcher, throws a sharp breaking pitch and a changeup that could stand some improvement. His command is very advanced and he pounds his fastball down in the zone to go along with great mound presence. RHP Blake Beavan- Beavan is a 6'7" Texas righty, who has been untouchable so far this season. He has a very easy delivery with a fastball that he throws in the low to mid-90's but definitely has a room for improved velocity at only 210 lbs as he fills out. Beavan has two secondary offerings, a sharp mid-80's slider and change that works in the 82-83 mph range, but both are inconsistent as of now. Beavan is very confident on the mound and has incredible potential with his size and stuff. LHP Madison Bumgarner- Madison Bumgarner has a lot of potential but is someone that is going to take a lot of time to develop into that. Bumgarner is another young guy who turns 18 in August and is a 6'5" lefthander. The one thing that really sets him apart from the other lefties is a sinking fastball that already sits in the mid-90's with room increase his velocity. He has good command of his fastball and pounds it down in the zone, but due to the fact that he only started throwing breaking stuff a year ago, that part of his game will need time to develop. His change is a good pitch that he throws right around 80 mph, but isn't a pitch he uses right now because he doesn't need to, but could develop into a plus offering in the pros. Heyward could be snatched up but will most likely be off the board at fourteen so I think Schuerholz will go with either Josh Smoker or Madison Bumgarner with the pick, choosing to take either the higher ceiling or more polished southpaw. Check out Braves-Report for their take on Main and Heyward.

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