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hindsight-on-2002-draft | September | 2007 Articles

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Hindsight 20/20: 2002 Draft

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By the request of one of our readers, I will be taking a look at the at the five drafts between 2002 and 2006. I will go over the first five picks and any other notable picks from that year. Obviously I get the benefit of hindsight in judging the actions of the Braves front office five years ago, but I'm fine with that. I'll be starting with the 2002 draft. 1st Round (#23) OF Jeff Francoeur- I think we can pretty much call this one a win for the Braves. Francoeur exploited his football commitment to Clemson in order to drop this far. The athletic Georgia-native was considered a top ten or fifteen prospect in the draft but basically said that if anyone but the Braves or Red Sox drafted him, he would be honoring his scholarship to Clemson to play football. Francoeur made a pretty quick rise through the system, becoming one of baseball's top prospects before being called up to replace Raul Mondesi. Out of all the "Baby Braves" of the 2005 season, Francoeur established himself as the future face of the franchise after hitting close to .400 for a large chunk of his first call-up. In 2006, Francoeur showed his raw power but garnered large amounts of criticism for a lack of plate discipline. Now this year, Francoeur has improved his discipline to a decent level but without showing his raw power. Moving forward, hopefully the 23-year old can put everything together. 1st Round Compensation (#34): LHP Dan Meyer- Yet another succes herewith this pick. You may be saying " why?" right now. Perfectly reasonable to ask that. After all, he has suffered through tons of injuries and has yet to really prove himself of being capable to pitch in the majors at 26-years old. That stuff all happened afterwards though. He was a massive success for the Braves because his early success allowed the team to spin him off to Oakland as the main piece for current Braves ace, Tim Hudson. You never want to hope for failure in a guy like that but it has certainly rid the Hudson trade of any stinging after-effect. 2nd Round (#64): C Brian McCann- McCann was an advanced defensive high school catcher from Duluth. The pop in his bat and offensive projection along with his defensive capabilities made him such a high round pick. Five years later, he has surpassed what anyone believed he could do with the bat and his defensive is worse than any scouts would have guessed at that time. Still, an offensive catcher like McCann is hard to come by and going on two full years in the majors, he already has one silver slugger and two all-star appearances. Chalk this one up as another win for the Braves scouts. Even an OPS near .800 like he has this year is considered good from a catcher, much less the .841 mark he has given since the break. 2nd Round (#65): SS James Greene- Greene was one of the better high school players heading into the draft but concerns about signability dropped him to the second round. He was a good all-around athlete with all of his tools grading out at average at least. However, the shortstop chose to attend Georgia Tech instead of signing. He was named a first-team All-American in 2005, after hitting .372 with twelve home runs as Tech's starting shortstop and was taken in the first round (30th overall) of the 2005 draft by the Cardinals. He signed but has struggled in his three years of pro baseball, including hitting only .244 for the Cardinals double-A affiliate this year. I would call this a wash. The Braves didn't sign him and therefor lost a pretty high pick basically, but he hasn't really done much in the minors. 3rd Round (#95): RHP Charles Morton- I specifically remember this pick because Morton went to high school about fifteen minutes from my house. They really are a miserable athletic school so he must be their pride an joy, but that is beside the point. Coming out of high school, Morton was liked by scouts for a perfect pitcher's body at around 6'5" with plenty of room to fill out as well as a good sinking fastball and an impressive curve. The Braves signed him, but unfortunately, his command never improved since then. He has had a pretty disappointing pro career, mostly because of a BB/9 of close to five. He had a decent year for Mississippi this year but chances are, he will never see any major league action. 20th Round (#605): LHP Chuck James- I think we can pretty much call this the best pick of the 2002 MLB Draft. The Georgia southpaw was considered a high-round talent, but that year he and a couple friend were messing around by a pool. Chuck jumped off a roof into the pool... but missed and broke both his wrists. An entire season of not seeing the left-hander as well as questions about how well he could recover drove scouts away and dropped him all the way to the Braves in the 20th round. Thank you for that one. After signing, James spent a little more than three years in the minors before getting the call for good last year. His minor league career was one of the most dominating I have ever seen by a pitcher, and while his major league career has been successful, it hasn't been close to that level. Control problems and an inability to pitch more than six innings a start have made him more of a back-end of the rotation starter so far. We can definitely call this draft a huge success. The Braves got three big contributors as well as a top prospect, who was the center of a package to get our current ace. To get that much from one draft is incredible, since the huge majority of players selected (even in the first couple round) never really amount to much or anything in the major leagues. This was a very good year for the Braves scouting department. One other note here. You guys should all check out Tomahawk Talk. It is a new Braves blog and is very well written with some good stuff up. Well worth the couple minutes to check it out and add to your favorites.

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