Braves Accomplish Primary Goal With Gilmartin





ATLANTA For the third time in as many Junes, the Braves went with a college player early in the draft. After taking Vanderbilt's Mike Minor with the seventh overall selection in 2009 and picking seven collegians with their second through eighth choices a year ago, Atlanta nabbed Florida State lefthander Sean Gilmartin 28th overall in 2011.

Ranked by Baseball America as the 48th-best player in the draft, Gilmartin fills the primary goal of Atlanta scouting director Tony DeMacio, who said prior to Monday's process that he was targeting lefthanded hurlers. He also gives the Braves additional polished pitching depth in the organization, which should provide general manager Frank Wren with the freedom to acquire a big league bat this summer in exchange for prospects on the mound.

In Gilmartin, the 6-foot-2, 192-pound southpaw has attracted favorable comparisons to Minor and was considered one of the safest selections available who could give manager Fredi Gonzalez a versatile arm in the not-too-distant future.

An outfielder and pitcher out of a California high school, Gilmartin had an immediate impact on the Seminoles by earning first-team Freshman All-America honors in 2009, when he went 12-3, 3.49 and led the Atlantic Coast Conference in victories. After helping guide Florida State to the College World Series in 2010 while going 9-8, 5.24 and later twirling for Team USA's Collegiate National squad, the lefty put together an outstanding junior campaign by posting a 12-1, 1.83 record.

Gilmartin was a first-team all-ACC selection and is a strong candidate for national pitcher of the year honors.

"There have been games this season when that young man has been in complete control on the mound," said Seminoles head coach Mike Martin, whose team has advanced to the Super Regionals of the NCAA tournament. "He expects to pitch like that, but that's rare at this level."

An excellent athlete for a pitcher, Gilmartin has solid command and has made significant strides in the quality of his offerings in the past year. His fastball has good movement while residing in the 88-91 mph range. His slider has become an average pitch, while his 76-78 mph changeup is considered to be his best toss. His big, slow curveball might have potential against lefthanded hitters in the professional ranks but needs more bite in order to challenge righties.

WIGWAM WISPS

• Gilmartin becomes only the fifth collegian drafted in the first round by the Braves in the last 31 years. He joins Minor (2009), N.C. State pitcher Joey Devine (2005), Arizona State outfielder Mike Kelly (1991) and Georgia pitcher Derek Lilliquist (1987).

• It's been boom or bust for the Braves with their recent top draft picks. Excluding 2010 selection Matt Lipka, a high school shortstop from Texas, Atlanta has hit with Minor and 2007 pick Jason Heyward, but whiffed on 2008 choice Brett DeVall, a lefthander who was released in spring training, and 2006 pick Cody Johnson, an outfielder who was sold to the Yankees over the winter.