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Draft Report Card


Richard Lewis
ATLANTA BRAVES

Best Pro Debut: RHP Kevin Barry (14) dominated the short-season New York-Penn League with 12 saves, a 0.86 ERA, 54 strikeouts in 31 innings and a .131 opponent batting average. RHP Kyle Davies (4) went 4-2, 2.25 with a 53-8 strikeout-walk ratio in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, then threw six scoreless innings at Class A Macon.

Best Athlete: The Braves signed two players away from major football programs. 3B Cole Barthel (2) was an Arkansas quarterback recruit, and his combination of size, power and speed has drawn comparisons to Matt Williams. OF Matt Esquivel (5) was going to walk on at Nebraska as a running back. OF Adam Stern (3) isn't as physically imposing as those two, but he's a Lenny Dykstra-type sparkplug without quite the same pop.

Best Hitter: SS Josh Burrus (1) hit just .193 in the GCL and 2B Richard Lewis (1) batted just .242 at short-season Jamestown, but the Braves have high hopes for both. Burrus has a very quick bat.

Best Raw Power: Burrus over Barthel. Though drafted as a shortstop, Burrus should outgrow the position and began playing third base in instructional league.

Fastest Runner: Stern has 6.4-6.5 second speed in the 60-yard dash.

Best Defensive Player: Lewis' quick hands help him at the plate as well as in the field. He played shortstop for Georgia Tech last spring and is smooth on the pivot.

Best Fastball: Despite being short and lefthanded, Macay McBride (1) repeatedly has thrown as hard as 95 mph. The Braves had eight reports on him from high school, and each had him at 94 mph or better, with good life. He's not very projectable, but with that kind of stuff he doesn't have to be.

Most Intriguing Background: Burrus is a cousin of Jeffrey Hammonds. Atlanta drafted twins, SS Paco (42) and OF Danny Figueroa (48), but they opted for the University of Miami.

Closest To The Majors: Lewis or Stern.

Best Late-Round Pick: Barry showed a 91-93 mph fastball to go with a hard slider. The Braves also view C Travis Anderson (25), who has raw tools, as a sleeper.

The One Who Got Away: LHP J.P. Howell (2) has four big league pitches and allowed one earned run in 70 innings as a high school senior. The Braves weren't close to diverting him from the University of Southern California.

Assessment: Atlanta emphasized athletes and arms as usual, though it opted for more four-year college players than it has in the past. Having three first-round picks--all from prospect-rich Georgia, incidentally-- helped lessen the sting of not signing second-rounder Howell.

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