Braves 2002 Draft Overview
By Bill Ballew
Scouting Director: Roy Clark (first year: 2000).
2000 Draft (First three rounds, picking 30th)
2001 Draft (First three rounds, picking 29th)
Braves pick 23rd in rotation.
That philosophy has remained intact over the past 12 seasons under current GM John Schuerholz and a trio of scouting directors: Chuck LaMar, now the Devil Rays GM; Snyder; and current scouting director Roy Clark, a Snyder protege. As a result, the Braves have one of the clearest approaches to the draft in the game. They have selected a high school player with their first pick in each of the past 10 years, with eight of those being pitchers.
The Braves also have not been afraid to take the occasional gamble on tough signs, particularly in the first 10 rounds. There have been some misses, such as Chad Hutchinson (first round, 1995), Josh Karp (eighth round, 1998) and J.P. Howell (second round, 2001). The efforts also have produced numerous rewards, including righthanders Matt Belisle and Adam Wainwright.
The organization has tweaked its approach since Snyder went into semi-retirment after the 1999 draft. While the Braves still spend as much on draft bonuses as any team, they're a little more conservative with high-dollar deals. Atlanta has also kept picks close to home in recent years, with a definite affinity for Georgia players in the early rounds. Last year its first three picks all came out of Georgia schools.
Last year Clark also took two four-year college players in the first three roundsRichard Lewis and Adam Sternmaking them Atlanta's highest-drafted collegians since Mike Kelly went with the second overall pick in 1992. The overall philosophy of taking young, strong arms and athletes remains in place, though.
Clark had the luxury of multiple early picks in his first two drafts. The Braves had six picks in the first two rounds in 2000 and three first-rounders in 2001. The bounty isn't quite as big this year, but the Braves will have a supplemental first-rounder (34th overall) and an extra second-rounder (65th overall) for losing Steve Karsay as a free agent to the Yankees.
It should come as no surprise on June 4 when Clark stays the course and uses those picks on a plethora of high school pitchers, several athletic high school outfielders, and possibly a catcher or two, the last of which would help fill the organization's greatest need.
Georgia again could provide homegrown talent for the early selections, with outfielders Jeremy Hermida and Jeff Francouer fitting the Braves' approach. Hermida's stock has risen so much that he might not be around, but two-sport standout Francoeur is a wild card who would be a perfect fit for one of the Braves' picks. Righthander Micah Owings is another Georgia prep product the Braves will jump on if he's available.
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