Braves Draft Report Card
Analyzing Atlanta's 2008 draft class
|The Braves signed 10 juco players in the first 15 rounds, looking for upside as raw prep players become tougher to sign. It will pay off if pitchers such as Kimbrel and Francis follow in the footsteps of Atlanta's top pitching prospect, JC product Tommy Hanson.
Best Pure Hitter:
C Braeden Schlehuber (4) has athletic ability for a catcher and repeats his solid swing. He has a good feel for squaring up balls and should improve and hit for more power as he becomes more selective. >> Best Power Hitter:
The Braves have long coveted OF Adam Milligan (6) and his above-average lefthanded power, drafting him three times. They finally signed him away from a Vanderbilt commitment this year for $350,000. >> Fastest Runner:
SS Travis Adair (13) and 2B Robert Brooks (20) are above-average runners with good instincts, but the Braves didn't draft any burners. >> Best Defensive Player:
Schlehuber's athleticism helps make him a strong receiver and blocker, and he handled plenty of velocity at CC of Southern Nevada. He has average arm strength.
RHP Craig Kimbrel (3) uses a lower arm angle, similar to that of 2005 first-rounder Joey Devine, to pump fastballs up to 98 mph. RHP Paul Clemens (7) has an electric arm and has touched 97 mph with his heater. RHP Zeke Spruill (2) has a low-90s fastball with excellent sink and plenty of projectability at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds. >> Best Secondary Pitch:
LHP Tyler Stovall (2) and RHP Jacob Thompson (5) both feature above-average curveballs. Thompson, whose velocity was down all spring after an illness caused him to lose 25 pounds, also throws a solid slider and has a feel for a changeup.
ODDS AND ENDS
Best Pro Debut:
RHP David Francis (12) went 5-3, 2.35 with 69 strikeouts in 54 innings, including a 16-strikeout effort in a six-inning no-hit outing July 22. Kimbrel, who finished the year with high Class A Myrtle Beach, picked up 10 saves and struck out 56 in 35 innings while giving up just two earned runs. >> Best Athlete:
Brooks was a dual-threat quarterback in high school in Alabama and has fast-twitch athletic ability. He didn't play in 2008 after academics knocked him out of Auburn after he hit .281 with 36 RBIs. >> Most Intriguing Background:
Adair's father Rick has spent nearly 30 years in professional baseball and is the Rangers' minor league pitching coordinator. Francis and Milligan were roommates at Walters State with the son of Braves scouting director Roy Clark. >> Closest To The Majors:
Kimbrel will move quickly as a reliever. Thompson could rise as rapidly if he regains the low-90s velocity he showed in his first two years at Virginia. >> Best Late-Round Pick:
Francis and Brooks both have upside comparable to the club's single-digit picks. >> The One Who Got Away:
RHP Matthew Price (34), who threw 95 mph in workouts for the Braves, is attending Virginia Tech. Atlanta also made a strong run at RHP Michael Palazzone (18), now at Georgia.