I was struck by a post over at the Red Sox blog Fire Brand of the AL that was a history of the Red Sox’s drafts under Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington. So I thought that I’d do the same, and recap the Braves’ six drafts from 2007 to 2012. Wren was named the GM in late 2007, which means that ’07 was Schuerholz’s last draft, and ’08-’12 were all Wren.
Here’s the record:
1st round: Jason Heyward, Jon Gilmore (compensation for losing Danys Baez)
Analysis: The Braves had three picks in the first two rounds, and picked two stars and a bust. That’s a ratio you’ll take to the bank every single time. Danys Baez never did a thing in a Braves uniform but he gave the Braves a very favorable-looking draft board in 2007; shame that they couldn’t do much with the picks that they got for him, nor with any of their lower-round picks. (The Braves did have another second-round pick in 2007, and selected Josh Fields The Pitcher, but he didn’t sign, and the Mariners took him in the second round in 2008.) But, again, a draft with Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman is a pretty good draft.
1st round: Brett DeVall (compensation for losing Ron Mahay)
Analysis: A reverse of 2007, the Braves didn’t get anything out of their top two picks, DeVall and second-rounder Tyler Stovall, but they managed to get a number of tradeable pitching prospects in other rounds. The Braves actually lost their 18th overall pick to the Mets for having signed free agent Tom Glavine; the Mets took Ike Davis, which looked like a good idea at the time, and the Braves got DeVall with the 40th overall pick. Spruill went to Arizona in the Justin Upton deal; Clemens and Oberholtzer went to Houston in the Michael Bourn deal; and Hoover went to Cincinnati in the Juan Francisco deal. And the Braves decided to hang onto Craig Kimbrel, which seems to have been a good move.
1st round: Mike Minor
Notable picks: David Hale (2), Aaron Northcraft (7)
Analysis: Mike Minor was a controversial pick at seventh overall, but he has proven his worth and then some. However, not much in the rest of the draft has panned out. Hale still has a live arm and has made it to Triple-A, which is more than you can say for other draft picks from that year. This is not an auspicious-looking draft beyond the first round.
1st round: Matt Lipka (compensation for losing Mike Gonzalez)
Analysis: The Braves lost their 20th overall pick in the first round after signing closer Billy Wagner, but they got a pick 15 spots later, 35th overall, for losing closer Mike Gonzalez. Outfielders Lipka and Cunningham may not turn into much, but the Braves were able to get value from Drury by sending him to Arizona in the Justin Upton deal, and Joey Terdoslavich is hitting well in Triple-A. Many of the others show up somewhere on an Atlanta Braves top 25 prospects list, which basically means that prospect hounds think that they have a nonzero chance of having a breakout year. Of course, it’s hard to imagine any of the other players being more valuable than Andrelton Simmons or Evan Gattis.
1st round: Sean Gilmartin
Notable picks: Nick Ahmed (2), Kyle Kubitza (3), J.R. Graham (4), Cody Martin (7), Tommy La Stella (8), Navery Moore (14)
Analysis: The Braves wasted a 19th-round pick on Brian Snitker’s son Troy, which is suboptimal, considering that they were able to get Craig Kimbrel’s brother Matt in the 31st round in 2012. No one from the 2011 draft has made the majors yet; the best pick of the draft was looking like J.R. Graham, but he’s currently on the disabled list with a shoulder strain, which frightens the hell out of me.
1st round: Lucas Sims
Notable picks: Alex Wood (2)
Analysis: It’s hard to know exactly with this draft — maybe catchers Bryan De La Rosa or Josh Elander will put it together, or someone else will emerge. But the top two picks are likely to stay the top two. Wood has already made his major league debut, of course, and he looks like he’ll have a career as long as his arm stays attached to his body. Sims is on track, too. But the Braves will have to hope that someone else emerges.
Overall Analysis: The Braves are a pretty good drafting team, especially when you compare these drafts with the Red Sox record from 2007 to the present. Really, in almost every aspect of baseball, the Braves look good when compared to almost any other team. You just have to remember to keep those comparisons in mind.
These drafts don’t look all that impressive, but you realize that the Braves are fielding quite a few of these draftees as integral parts of their team: Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, Mike Minor, Andrelton Simmons, Evan Gattis, and now Alex Wood. That doesn’t even count international free agents like Julio Teheran or amateur free agents like Brandon Beachy. So don’t get bent out of shape if the Braves have a first round bust. If you can turn one player from a draft into a core part of your lineup, or a couple players into role players and trade chips, then you’ve had a successful draft.