2012 Draft Report Cards: Atlanta Braves

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The Braves had gotten away from mining their home state in recent years before using its first two 2012 picks on Peach State pitchers Sims and Wood. They headline a draft class that's short on polished hitters.
Bonus spending: $4.8 million
Best Pure Hitter: Western Carolina's all-time leader in hits, 2B Ross Heffley (18) has a compact swing and a good two-strike approach, and he uses the whole field. He batted .296/.345/.412 in low Class A. Best Power Hitter: There are questions about whether C Josh Elander (6) will remain behind the plate, but no one doubts his above-average righthanded pull power. Fastest Runner: OF Connor Lien (12) is a plus runner who covers a lot of ground in center field. OF Fernelys Sanchez(16) has shown well above-average speed in the past, but he broke his leg during the spring and was slower than Lien after signing. OFs Justin Black (4) and Blake Brown (5) are two more plus runners. Best Defensive Player: C Bryan de la Rosa (3) was one of the best defensive catchers available in the draft. The Puerto Rico native possesses agile feet and soft hands behind the plate and can really throw, posting a 1.71-second pop time at a showcase last fall. He did commit 13 passed balls in 28 pro games, however.


Best Fastball:
RHP Nathan Hyatt (13) has a slight build at 6 feet and 180 pounds, but he has a live fastball that sits at 92-95 mph and touches 97. RHP Luke Sims' (1) and LHP Alex Wood's (2) heaters are just a tick slower. Best Secondary Pitch: A good athlete with a fast arm, Sims throws a tight downer curveball at 73-78 mph.


Best Pro Debut: Though he never posted an ERA under 4.26 during three years at Appalachian State, Hyatt posted a 1.46 ERA while reaching low Class A. He also record six saves and a 37-8 K-BB ratio in 25 innings. Wood started 13 games in low Class A and pitched well, going 4-3, 2.22 with 52 strikeouts and 14 walks over 53 innings Best Athlete: Lien has size (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and tools. In addition to his speed, he has a plus arm and some strength. But questions about his bat persist after he hit .228/.352/.282 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Most Intriguing Background: RHP Matt Kimbrel's (31) brother Craig is an all-star closer for the Braves. Unsigned C Levi Borders' (11) father Pat was MVP of the 1992 World Series and a 2000 Olympic gold medallist. Black (4) is the highest-drafted player out of Montana since 1984. Closest To The Majors:Wood is the highest-drafted college player is this Braves class. His funky delivery could cause him to wind up in the bullpen, but he has the stuff to succeed in any role, with a fastball that touches 96 mph and a solid-average changeup. Wood's slider is a work in progress. Best Late-Round Pick: Hyatt and Heffley, who were signed by the same area scout, Billy Best. The One Who Got Away:Borders was the highest-drafted player the Braves didn't sign. He can catch and play shortstop and could hit in the middle of the order for South Florida as a freshman.