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Braves Draft Preview

By Bill Ballew
May 11, 2003

Scouting Director: Roy Clark (first draft: 2000).

2000 Draft (First five rounds, picking 30th)
1a. Adam Wainwright, rhp, Glynn Academy, St. Simons, Ga.
1b. Scott Thorman, 3b, Preston HS, Cambridge, Ontario
1c. Kelly Johnson, ss, Westwood HS, Austin
1d. Aaron Herr, ss, Hempfield HS, Lancaster, Pa.
2a. Bubba Nelson, rhp, Riverdale Baptist HS, Fort Washington, Md.
2b. Bryan Digby, rhp, McIntosh HS, Peachtree City, Ga.
3. Blaine Boyer, rhp, Walton HS, Marietta, Ga.
4. Zach Miner, rhp, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) HS (Choice from Devil Rays as compensation for Type B free agent Gerald Williams)
4. *Brian Montalbo, rhp, Dimond HS, Anchorage, Alaska
5. Chris Waters, rhp, South Florida CC

2001 Draft (First five rounds, picking 29th)
1a. Macay McBride, lhp, Screven County (Ga.) HS
1b. Josh Burrus, ss, Wheeler HS, Marietta, Ga.
1c. Richard Lewis, 2b, Georgia Tech
2a. *J.P. Howell, lhp, Jesuit HS, Sacramento, Calif.
2b. Cole Barthel, 3b, Decatur (Ala.) HS
3. Adam Stern, of, Nebraska
4. Kyle Davies, rhp, Stockbridge (Ga.) HS
5. Matt Esquivel, of, McArthur HS, San Antonio

2002 Draft (First five rounds, picking 23rd)
1. Jeff Francoeur, of, Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga.
1. Dan Meyer, lhp, James Madison (Supplemental pick--34th--for loss of Type A free agent Steve Karsay)
2. Brian McCann, c, Duluth (Ga.) HS
2. *Tyler Greene, ss, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Plantation, Fla. (Choice from Yankees--65th--for loss of Karsay)
3. Charlie Morton, rhp, Joel Barlow HS, Redding, Conn.
4. Steve Russell, rhp, Cimarron Memorial HS, Las Vegas
5. *Kris Harvey, c, Bandys HS, Catawba, N.C.
(*Did not sign.)

2003 Draft
Braves pick 30th in rotation (Lose first-round pick for signing Paul Byrd; gain supplemental first-round pick and second-round pick for loss of Mike Remlinger; gain supplemental first-round pick and third-round pick for loss of Tom Glavine.)

Overview
Few teams have been more predictable in the draft since Roy Clark took over the Braves' scouting reins from Paul Snyder in 2000. High school players, particularly pitchers, receive the vast majority of the team's attention. Should the player reside in Georgia, the likelihood that Clark will call his name becomes even greater.

It's not that Clark is determined to create an Atlanta roster full of in-state players. Rather, Georgia has become one of the nation's baseball hotbeds since the early 1990s, which has coincided with the Braves' string of 11 straight division titles. The organization's philosophy of drafting high school arms that can be molded into the Braves' way of pitching began well before that, starting with Snyder and then-general manager Bobby Cox' decision in 1986 to build from within.

The result has left the Braves bulging with arms, with complete rotations of prospects at each of the four full-season minor league teams. Heading the list are first-round picks such as Adam Wainwright (2000) at Double-A Greenville, Macay McBride (2001) at Class A Myrtle Beach and Dan Meyer (2002) at Class A Rome.

Clark has also shown that he is no one-trick pony. The Braves stayed in Georgia last June while taking top prospects in the outfield and behind the plate, weaknesses in the organization of late. Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann have both made the jump to Rome this year. Clark also has added depth throughout the system with several college players in the early rounds over the past two drafts. Second baseman Richard Lewis became the highest-drafted collegian by the Braves since Mike Kelly was the second overall pick in 1991. Meyer and outfielders Billy McCarthy (sixth round, 2001) and Adam Stern have also made steady progress in the organization.

Atlanta was criticized by other organizations in recent years for the team's willingness to pay significant bonuses to players selected after the first round. While Clark continues to have a relatively healthy budget, some players have slipped away due to the tighter pursestrings of owner AOL Time Warner. For example, the Braves failed to sign four players from the first 10 rounds of last year's draft, headed by shortstop Tyler Greene.

Such changes represent little more than blips on the screen for the Braves. While the signing of Paul Byrd means Atlanta will not draft until 35th overall, the loss of Tom Glavine and Mike Remlinger will provide the team with six picks among the first 100 selections. Georgians who could be targets include righthander Jim Barthmaier and outfielder Tim Battle.

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