Hindsight 20/20: 2004 Draft
2nd Round (#71): 3B Eric Campbell- Campbell was drafted out of Gibson Southern High School in Indiana. Campbell, a High School All-American, played primarily at shortstop in high school, but scouts said a lack of range meant he was destined for the hot corner. He signed with the Braves, starting off with the team's GCL affiliate and then moving to Rome for his last seven games that season. Campbell started off at short but committed 12 errors in only 36 games and made the shift over to third base. Campbell hit seven homers in 2004, but his stats weren't anything special. Campbell spent all of 2005 with Danville and had his offensive breakout. In less than 250 at bats, the third baseman hit .313 with 18 home runs and an OPS over 1.000. He moved up to Rome for his first full season in 2006 and again mashed the pitching as he started to move his way up prospect lists. Campbell hit .294 with 22 home runs that year. This year however, Campbell went through much of what Jarrod Saltalamacchia had. Campbell suffered through a wrist injury most of the year and managed a measly .221 batting average, although he made huge strides in his plate discipline. His season ended with a suspension by the Braves for violating team rules and has brought up questions about his character. He still has 30-home run potential in him but needs to come back healthy and put any off-field problems behind him to reach that. I'll reserve judgment on this pick for a couple years.
3rd Round (#101): 2B J.C. Holt- Holt, an LSU product, was taken after hitting .392 for the Tigers his Junior year. Holt was known for very good bat control and an ability to make contact, however his complete lack of power set his ceiling fairly low. He started off his pro career batting .321 for Danville in 209 at bats, but that came with only 16 extra-base hits. He played his 2005 and 2006 seasons in Rome and Myrtle Beach, and basically dropped off the prospect map with very poor performance at the plate. He still showed a decent amount of speed, but hit under .270 both years and finished with slugging percentages well under .400. Holt, much like Yunel Escobar, put himself back on the map with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League after the 2006 season. And like Escobar, Holt carried that performance into the 2007 season, batting .309 between Mississippi and Richmond. He didn't hit any home runs and finished with only 21 extra-base hits as well as a slugging percentage under .400 though. Holt will be 25 next season and the complete lack of power means his future lies off the bench as a utility player. He should be able to hit close to .300 though, so he will be a good one.
4th Round (#131): RHP James Parr- Parr was selected out of a high school in New Mexico. Scouts liked his impressive fastball-curveball combo. Parr threw his fastball in the low-90's and the very sharp curveball was his out pitch. He could command both very well and made for an intriguing prospect. He signed quickly after being drafted and reported to the Gulf Coast League Braves to start his pro career. He performed pretty well for an 18-year old, showing good command an impressive strikeout rate, and good hit prevention. He moved up to Rome in 2005, posting a 3.41 ERA in 126.2 innings. His command was still impressive and he struck out a decent amount but the hits started creeping up and would stay like that. Last year Parr started the year at Myrtle Beach. Just like the previous year the hits were more than you'd like to see but his control was impressive. This season, Parr threw almost 40 innings of impressive baseball for the Pelicans and then pitched about 100 innings of mediocre ball for Mississippi. His command has always been there but people have a pretty easy time hitting the right-hander. He'll probably get a couple cups of coffee in the majors, but nothing more. Let's call him a bust.
5th Round (#161): 3B Van Pope- Pope declined to sign with the White Sox after being taken in the 28th round in 2003 and attended Meridian Community College, where he was drafted out of the next year. He was a toolsy player that had not consistently put it together. Defensively, he had all the tools to be very good at the hot corner and he had some discipline as well as some power potential. He signed quickly and through his first two seasons with Danville, Rome, and Myrtle Beach he was rather mediocre. You could see the discipline and he showed signs of power, but nothing that really stood out. In 2006 he played with Mrytle Beach for a full season. He hit .263 with 15 home runs that season, putting himself right up there with the potential replacements for Chipper Jones down the road. The power everyone expected finally came through, however in 2007, Pope absolutely plummeted, hitting .223 with six home runs and for all intensive purposes, took himself off the prospect scene. Let's call it a bust. He has the chance to be a utility player but I doubt he amounts to much more.
6th Round (#191): C Clint Sammons- Sammons, another local product, was selected out of the University of Georgia. His defensive play behind the plate was superb and there was a little pop in his bat, although scouts knew he wouldn't be able to hit consistently enough to ever start. Sammons performed pretty well his first two years in the low minors, keeping his batting average in the .280's and hitting for a bit of power. When he was moved up to Myrtle Beach to start 2006, Sammons really started to show the kind of player he was going to be. As a Pelican, he hit .257 with eight homers and pretty good discipline. This year he kept that play about the same at .249 with nine homers. The past two years he has drawn acclaim for his glove and especially his arm as he has been deadly against those trying to steal. He'll never hit for a high average, but Sammons looks like he could get on base at a decent clip and hit for a bit of power as well as playing spectacular defense behind the plate. If you can do that, you'll enjoy a long career in the majors. For a sixth round pick, Sammons looks like a win.
Other Notables: RHP Jamie Richmond (31st Round)
If Richmond and/or Campbell can become consistent contributors in the majors, this will be a successful draft. Generally though, the picks just are not going to amount to much if anything and the promising ones just haven't developed.
The 2002 and 2003 drafts were considered very impressive for the Braves. Not only did the scouting department snag top talents with the first couple picks, they also landed contributors down in the much later rounds. 2004 was not that good a year.