Draft Report Cards: Atlanta Braves





QUICK TAKE
With a pitcher-heavy system, the Braves targeted athletic position players. Lipka and Cunningham immediately push toward the front of the system's position-player prospect pool.
Bonus spending: $3.9 million
POSITION PLAYERS

BEST PURE HITTER: OF Todd Cunningham (2) has a track record of hitting with wood, winning batting titles in the Texas Collegiate and Cape Cod leagues in college. He's a switch-hitter who stays inside the ball and has on-base skills, as evidenced by his 14 HBPs in his debut. 1B David Rohm (9) matches him with a polished approach, though his present power is shy for the profile at first. » BEST POWER HITTER: 3B Joe Leonard (3) has a rangy body that evokes Troy Glaus. He has average present power with leverage in his swing and should add more as he gets stronger. » FASTEST RUNNER: SS Matt Lipka (1s) is a well above-average runner and already has basestealing skills. He'll be an even greater threat as he polishes his ability to get jumps and read pitchers. » BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: SS Andrelton Simmons (2) may have been the draft's best defensive player. Even though he hit 98 mph as a pitcher, he wants to play short, and his actions, arm strength and solid range will allow him to stay there if he can hit.
PITCHERS

BEST FASTBALL: If he pitched, it would be Simmons. RHP Matt Lewis hits a lot of 93s and 94s out of a relief role. RHP Dave Filak (4) has reached 95 mph in the past but had elbow stiffness in the spring and hasn't quite shown that velocity as a pro. » BEST SECONDARY PITCH: Filak led Division III in strikeouts per nine innings (14.86) in 2009 thanks mostly to a power curveball that falls off the table. He's raw but has a fresh arm and has the highest ceiling of any Braves' pitching draftee this year.
ODDS AND ENDS

BEST PRO DEBUT: The Braves pushed several draftees to low Class A Rome, and 2B Phil Gosselin (5) was the team's player of the year. He earned a promotion to high Class A Myrtle Beach and batted .279/.353/.379. RHP Willie Kempf (27), a senior sign out of Baylor, went 8-2, 1.70 with 71 strikeouts in 74 innings between two Rookie-level stops and Rome. » BEST ATHLETE: Lipka does a lot of things easily, and edges out Simmons thanks to his speed. » MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: LHP Matt Fouch (34) pitched at Army and signed quickly, getting six outings between Rookie-level Danville and Rome. He was then called to military duty; the Braves hope to get him back on the field but don't know when that will happen. Lipka played wide receiver in high school, with Dodgers first-round RHP Zach Lee as the quarterback. Simmons hails from Curacao but was drafted out of Western Oklahoma JC. » CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Gosselin and Cunningham. » BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: Kempf, a sinker/slider guy with command. His fastball sat at 88-90 mph as a starter, but he pushed 93 mph at Baylor in shorter stints. » THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY: Atlanta was one of two teams that didn't exceed MLB slot recommendations for any signings, though they tried to with OF/C Steven Sabol (16), a cousin of NFL star Troy Polamalu. He couldn't be swayed from his commitment to Oregon.