2015 Braves Draft

The 2015 draft marked the first year of Coppy’s drafts, and also the strategy of consolidating resources into draft picks. So not only did you have a new staff at the top making the selections, you also had more selections. And since we’re two years removed and coming up on the 2017 amateur draft, why not take a look at how this draft class is looking? And while the Braves had 43 picks, we’re only going to focus on the players who fit the following description: they have a projectable skill set, they’ve continued to progress, and they’ve either reached AA already or they are on popular prospect sheets. That leaves us with 8 players.

1st Round:
-Kolby Allard – What’s there to say? Allard was a potential top pick early in the draft season until some concerns over his back lowered his stock. As a result, he slid to 14th, went a little over-slot, and Atlanta got him. He was dominant in the rookie Appalachian League, got some innings at Rome, and the Braves decided to let him skip A+ and start the season in AA. He hasn’t disappointed: his 1.86 ERA, 46 K’s to just 17 BB, and 1.11 WHIP as a 19-year old has shown that he has ability to be reach Atlanta and stay. He’s shown no signs of injury concerns, but Atlanta will undoubtedly be cautious with his workload. We may see him in Atlanta next year, but he and Ronald Acuna have to be two of the most exciting 19-year olds that Braves have had in a while.

-Mike Soroka – Speaking of 19-year olds in AA, Soroka was picked 28th with a compensation pick. Sort of the opposite of Allard, he’s a tall right-hander who has more a workhorse type appeal. He doesn’t have quite the ceiling that Allard has, but he seems to have a very projectable floor of a back of the rotation starter. He, too, had a strong showing in Rookie and A- and started 2017 in AA. His peripherals have been certainly impressive with a 51 to 15 strike out to walk ratio, 1.11 WHIP, and only 5 HR allowed in 54 IP. While his ERA has not been as shiny and he’s surrounded by pitchers with more plus tools, he is right there amongst the Braves pitching prospects that could have a long career in Atlanta.

-Austin Riley – As the Braves entered the draft, the system was light on power-hitting prospects, and they had just traded away Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis, and Justin Upton. Riley was the first plus power tool taken in the draft, a big 220lb third baseman. His showing at Rookie level in 2015 reinforced his draft position as he finished with a .933 OPS in short season work. His 2015 season at A- Rome was mired by a problematically slow start, but his second half allowed him to start 2017 as a 20-year old at A+. He’s had another slow start, but his bat still projects as a future major league though he is still raw and a long ways away.

2nd Round:
-Lucas Herbert – With catching being another position of need in the system, the Braves took a more defensive-minded, small framed catcher with their 4th pick. Since then, his bat has not yet translated to professional baseball (.562 OPS in 515 PAs), but his defense has earned positive reviews, and as he performs his second season at Rome, his bat is slowly improving. He’s certainly over-matched as a hitter right now, but his defense could allow him to continue to advance in hopes his bat turns around. One would have to consider him the first disappointment of this draft class, though he was considered to be a good value pick at the time.

-AJ Minter – Who cares about injury risks? Minter was coming off Tommy John surgery as the Braves drafted him, and while the Braves have certainly been extremely cautious with his workload, Minter can’t help but turn heads everywhere he goes. He refused to allow a run during his 16 innings between A- and A+, and his 14.9 K/9 at AA had people wondering if he would see Atlanta in 2016. Injuries have still been a concern with Minter as he missed Spring Training this year with nerve irritation in his elbow, and after one inning at A+, he was shut down with a groin strain. He was slated to return in late May/early June, but he will have to show he can stay healthy. The stuff, however, is near major league ready and the closest in talent to the major leagues in the Braves’ 2015 class.

6th Round:
-Matt Withrow – Brother of Chris Withrow, who was in the Atlanta organization for a couple seasons, he was a safe college pick and has progressed steadily through the system. He continues to be young for his levels, and is now finding some consistency as a 23-year old at AA. He’s on a couple prospect sheets, and he could be a back of the rotation starter if he develops more consistency.

7th Round:
-Patrick Weigel – He has become the steal of the lower end of the draft for the Braves. He struggled to get his footing in college, transferring colleges and moving between the bullpen and rotation, but he has found his way in the Atlanta system. After a dominant showing at A- (135 Ks in 129 IP and a 2.51 ERA), he began the year at AA. After 7 starts in which he continued to flash a 9+ K/9 and a low WHIP, he was promoted to AAA. And while he was the first pitcher from this class to reach AAA, he has struggled in his early work. With an upper-90s fastball, Atlanta seems to like him a lot, and he may be the best value out of this draft class depending on what he does from here.

13th Round:
-Chase Johnson-Mullins – Another tall lefty (6’7”) with a mid-90s fastball and a Tommy John on his record out of this draft class. Thought to be a quick riser out of community college, the Braves have moved him slowly through the system. At A+, though, he’s had a fast start to the year with a 9.5 K/9 and 1.46 ERA. One would assume he could be yet another lefty in the pen in the high minors before mid-season.

A couple others to note:
-Evan Phillips (17th Round) – Braves have moved him quickly through the system to have him in AAA at this point, but his results don’t resemble a legitimate prospect. But with his journey bringing him to AAA, perhaps the Braves see something in his stats that isn’t easily perceived.
-Jonathan Morales (25th Round) – 22-year old catcher out of junior college with some pop.

95 thoughts on “2015 Braves Draft”

  1. Obviously, you have to evaluate 5-10 years after the draft, but based on early returns, what an absolute haul.

  2. Very interesting to read and very difficult not to get excited about this group of players.

  3. Thanks for this writeup. On a whim, I checked the 2014 draft. A horror show! Not recommended for those with weak stomachs.

  4. evaluated en masse
    it’s not hard to award a passe
    but where is that one individual
    transformative, a mighty step above the residual?

  5. @6, I think we’re gonna have to trade for one of those transformational players. As deep as our system seems to be, I agree that I don’t see a superstar, at least among the offensive ranks.

  6. All of this discussion about drafts and minor league call ups makes me think it is good evidence for Andruw’s HoF case.

  7. Tonight i get to go to town for my first ever look at the 2017 Atlanta Braves.

    I am inordinately excited.

    I care not, in the first instance, the result.

    I will be full of memories from this and its preceding locale.

    Justice taking Dibble out…Vinny Castilla, deep to left field.

    I am being treated by my Divorce Attorney from decades back.

    In all seriousness we will discuss the outstanding merits of these two awesome baseball teams.

    What a game.

  8. @7

    John R…

    As bleak as those 4 lines may have sounded i was specifically addressing Rob’s mighty compilation of the 2015 draft.

    Go beyond this and i have long since persuaded myself that we have one such individual, safely tucked away by some unbelievable sleight of hand, as the story is told.

    Kevin Maitan. He is going to be transformative. I tell myself this every day.I want him up last week, never mind this GCL nonsense.I told my doctor last month keep everything whirring round and in some semblance of working order till this guy arrives, i’ll let you know.

    Please no BS about ‘protecting’ his fragile psyche, we’ll take 4 years to ease him through our system. No we won’t, he’ll be a September call up next year regardless. He is a tough nut kid raised on hardscrabble. Swinging a bat since he was 2. Suddenly this guy comes to the door with four million dollars. Dad takes most of it but Junior comes to realize it can be commonplace now to retire at 35 with 200 million in the bank. If you’re a star. And he is.

  9. @7

    Well Freeman is on the roster. We just need everyone the offensive guys to be average to really good. No one else has to be a world beater all the time.

  10. Sam Dyson DFA’ed. Wouldn’t be opposed to claiming him; sit him next to Jim Johnson (who has had some similar valleys in his career) and see what happens.

  11. I think the position player side is just fine, both short-term and long-term. Long-term, Maitan, Acuna, Freeman, Swanson, Albies, and (at this point) Jackson look like easy projections for future success. Short-term, this season and next, there’s plenty of talent in the high minors and under contract that either through FA or trade, you can add the pieces you need. Plus, who knows where guys like Travis Demeritte and Dustin Peterson (still only 23) will show themselves. And if they’re successful in dealing Phillips, Garcia, and JJ (at least), then you’ll have even more prospects coming through the system, and we’ll have our third straight high draft position.

    Minter, Dirks, Biddle, Morris, Rex Brothers (who appears to be healthy), Lindgren, and failed SP prospects as options in the pen.

    Really just need 5 good SPs. But if you can’t find them for free (only Teheran is costing money, and it’s good money), then go sign somebody. We’ll clear $35M from the payroll at the end of this season.

  12. @11

    I agree. Assuming we’re actually, you know, planning on trying to compete like we said we would, Freeman is the superstar, at least for the first crop. Somebody else might have to take the mantle in five years or something, but it’s not an issue for now.

  13. @14, Future success, sure. But I was responding to blazon’s comment about transformational talent. Chipper, Andruw, Dale Murphy, that kind of talent. Freddie Freeman seems to have become that kind of talent, though I don’t believe he was heralded as such, so of course there’s hope to think we have someone in the pipeline.

  14. I think Allard and Wentz are going to be top of the rotation guys with Soroka and Anderson rounding it out.

  15. If we got 4 major leaguers, say a #2 starter, a #4 starter, a setup man, and an average third baseman, out of the 2015 draft, that would be an astounding success. During our dynasty years, we had drafts where not a single major leaguer was gleaned in 50-something picks, much less a star. Most teams draft a star once or twice a decade. The Heyward-Freeman draft was an anomaly.

    The draft is also not the only way to get such a player. Our two position players most likely to be stars are Acuna and Maitan. Freeman is already there. The rest of the players need only be average to very good (like Inciarte).

  16. Please, let’s not start another discussion about how wonderful the Cubs right fielder is.

    Thank you.

  17. @ 19

    ideally, for coop
    we must not to such machinations stoop
    no Cubbian reference
    in which some of us, apparently, would still pander deference.

    Thank you too, coop.

  18. Blaze on, blazon.

    It would be worse
    were not my druthers so well summed by your verse.
    The song sung oft and well
    Raise not again to heaven or hell.

    It could be worse. He could still be wearing our uniform while we carried the financial burden owed him by the Cubbies.

  19. Interesting discussion the last couple of days about calling up players before they are ready or “rushing” them to the bigs, and the impact that may have on their careers.
    I don’t have a position in that debate, but I do have a question. Do y’all know of any studies on the issue? The hypothesis is that a player who is called up before he is ready, and struggles a lot as a result, will not have as good a career as he would have if the team had been more patient, allowing him to learn and make the adjustments that virtually all players have to make at AA and/or AAA as opposed to learning on the job at the big league level.
    How would you go about gathering data for such a study? Isn’t it a problem that you are studying counterfactuals, i.e., the career you assume a player would have had had he not been “rushed”?

  20. I would add that we should all be interested in this question because most of the Braves’ minor leaguers who have a chance to be all star caliber big leaguers are still in their teens: Acuna, Allard, Soroka, Anderson, Wentz, Wilson, Pache, Maitan.
    Calling up most of these players by even 2019 would be “rushing” them by ordinary standards.
    I understand that it makes sense to have those inevitable struggles and adjustments in the minor leagues. But is Jeff Francouer perhaps a counter-example? Frenchy had tremendous success early in the bigs, but then when it was time to make adjustments, he never did. Maybe learning humility very early at the big league level is good for development. I don’t know–I can see it either way.

  21. GLORY!

    Braves Designate Emilio Bonifacio

    By Jeff Todd | June 2, 2017 at 1:46pm CDT

    The Braves have designated utilityman Emilio Bonifacio for assignment, per a club announcement. The club also optioned infielder Jace Peterson and righty Matt Wisler to Triple-A.

    Those moves opened three active roster spots for Atlanta. Southpaw Eric O’Flaherty and third baseman Adonis Garcia will come back from rehab stints to rejoin the club. Also, infielder Johan Camargo was recalled.

    It’s not surprising to see Atlanta move on from Bonifacio. The versatile 32-year-old has only seen ten games of action, all in the outfield, and owns an anemic .132/.150/.211 batting line.

  22. Camargo up and Jace down is my highlight.

    They do read us then. Camargo will play some short v. soon. Maybe one start, just to see.

  23. So Boni handed the pictures over to EOF. Is that what just happened?
    Also, Jace back to AAA. Hm.

  24. Glad to see Camargo (and his arm) back in the bigs.

    Who plays first now if Adams’s knee acts up again? Not that Jace ever really “played” first in any meaningful sense, but still.

  25. @ 29
    Adams, on one knee if necessary.
    @30
    Excellent point. And then came that nine run innings.
    @28
    Did you want him DFA’d? I did, it’s just too convenient having him down the road next time someone’s hurt. Cut the knot.

  26. @23, this is part of the problem. It’s almost impossible to study because you can’t do the experiment with the same player. One could compare pools of players, but then it can be confounded for ability: I.e., good players tend to be rushed more than mediocre ones. You could try to control for that by matching players on minor league performance. I don’t know if anyone has studied it, but I should look.

  27. 29 — Markakis has played first before. Camargo probably can play the position as well.

    EOF evidently stole the pictures from Bonifacio’s locker.

  28. 36 — That article neglects to mention that Halladay completely overhauled his delivery mechanics when he was sent down to the minors. He was a different pitcher when he returned.

  29. Ruiz is a better player than Garcia right now. They must think Garcia has more upside…

  30. Surely this is just a matter of giving Ruiz a day off and getting Garcia back in the action. I assume if the plan is for the Greek Demigod to get most of the action at 3B going foreword, they would have sent Ruiz down.
    We don’t know yet if Rio will be a good major league third baseman, but we know for certain that Garcia is not.

  31. In our last game most of the damage was done by former Braves (Chavez, Young, Norris). Does Arroyo count as a former Brave?

  32. I think the best 8 position players in the org should be on the Atlanta Braves at all times. If the guy in AA is better then he should take the job. Anything less than that means that there are other factors in play besides trying to field the best team.

    I would say that Swanson is the best SS in the org right now. Is he ready? I have no idea what that even means. If you could describe all the preconditions required for ‘readiness’ then maybe we could use that for deeper discussions, but it’s fairly clear to me that, ready or not, if you are the best player at the position in the org, then you almost have to play…otherwise the org is not acting rationally.

    Rushing is always hindsight, trying to explain a bad outcome, in a sport where bad outcomes are overwhelmingly common. The guys called up at 19 or 20 are usually great players. Some flame out, some make the all star team. The reasons for flame out are varied, and ‘He was rushed!’ conveniently covers all of them.

    Having guys in the rushing conversation is a good thing.

  33. @34–I think you’ve identified the best way to study the issue. Still haven’t found whether anyone has actually done it.
    @36–that’s an interesting read. I hadn’t remembered that the Tigers had “rushed” so many pitchers. Porcello is an interesting case; early success, followed by serious adjustment problems, then 2016 Cy Young. Would he have been better in 2012-15 if he had spent 2009-10 in minors?

  34. Bumgarner and Verlander were rushed. Think about how much better they’d now be if they had spent 4 years in the minors. Or don’t think about it, because nobody knows what would happen in an alternate reality.

  35. FWIW (not much!), I don’t know whether rushing in general is harmful to future development (nor does anyone else), but it would be great fun to see Allard and Acuna in ATL next year.

  36. @45, Do you agree that there is such a thing as rushing a player past his development and damaging the player’s chances for success? Or do you think since it can’t be proven (or disproven) that it then doesn’t matter so you might as well rush them?

  37. I think if you’re going to rush a player who may not have had the requisite reps in the obscurity of the minor leagues, you can mitigate things by:

    1. Handing him one of the most important spotlight positions
    2. Not having any backup for him so the pressure increases for him to deliver
    3. Make him a primary focus of marketing on commercials, billboards and toy giveaways
    4. Stick him high in the batting order where failure is compounded

    In other words, If you’re gonna rush a player there are modest ways to do it and not so modest ways.

  38. I think if that player is better than what you have, then it doesnt matter how old he is.

  39. As I said the other day, call up a player before they’re capable of making adjustments and it’s not going to go well in the immediate timeframe. Whether or not that portends a stunting of future growth is a separate issue, I suppose.

    And even if you’re right, I’m guessing we’d disagree about who the best eight position players are. For instance, since this conversation is largely about Acuna (or he’s been a major point in these discussions, anyway), that means some people must think that he’s one of the top three outfielders in the entire system right now. I’ve admittedly never seen him play, but I’m going to go ahead and guess that he’s not better than Inciarte, Kemp or even Markakis right now.

  40. Also, why would you not just use a standard platoon in the Ruiz/Garcia situation? Ruiz against righties and Garcia against lefties? Isn’t doing anything else overthinking it severely?

  41. Of course you always have the option to look outside the org when trying to improve, but when you need improvement at damn near every position you are gonna have to rush a few guys. Or you can sign shitty middle aged pitchers. I know what I’d rather watch…

  42. Folty is pitching a gem. Thrown a lot of pitches, though. He just entered the 7th having already thrown 103 pitches. (I was afraid Snit was asking for trouble there). After the 7th, he’s thrown 108. Two batters made outs on the first pitch. Thanks, Reds!

  43. Acuna conversation is about next year. I think. I mean I guess it’s possible we move Markakis at the deadline. That has never seemed realistic though, since no contender is salivating over a singles hitting RF with no speed.

  44. Why don’t we start violinists on Paganini instead of “Twinkle, Twinkle”? Oh, because graduated levels of difficulty is a universally recognized optimum educational environment.

    On the other hand, krussell said so

    Furthermore, krussell will use players who succeeded after being rushed as evidence that rushing players doesn’t matter. Cases of players who were rushed and struggled or failed outright are not, however, evidence against his preferred conclusion. Nor do those cases cause him to even vaguely question his assumptions, so strong are his defenses against cognitive dissonance.

  45. That’s actually a good analogy, for my side of the fence. Pedestrian musicians might improve gradually. Savants that get into Juliard are playing the hardest classics before they are teenagers.

    Baseball savants should be rushed to the majors. Anything less is a giant waste.

    I’ve never said Swanson is in that savant class. I think his ceiling is that of a solid pro. I just can’t complain about him playing at age 23 when we have no other viable options.

    If he makes adjustments this year, he’ll be better for it. If not then that’ll suck, but acting like you know for sure that he would’ve made those needed adjustments in AAA (or would’ve been tested enough to even have to) is basically saying that you can predict what happens in alternate universes. I think that’s a waste of brain cycles.

  46. I would appreciate your logic if it were, at least, internally consistent.

    Savant violinists demonstrate mastery of lower levels before they move to expert pieces. Who cares what age they reach expert level? The point is they don’t skip levels.

    Baseball savants also shouldn’t skip levels. And Dansby, as you admit, isn’t a savant. And still, you clamored for him to skip levels and defend it after he’s struggled.

    And I never said he’s a bust. That is your attempt to pin an extreme position on me to dissipate your cognitive dissonance. I also never claimed to “know for sure” about what adjustments he theoretically would have made. You are the one who is pretending to “know for sure” that rushing doesn’t matter. My position is that it *might*

  47. I fear we’re going to rue leaving 11 men on base and only scoring two runs on 11 hits here…

  48. There is a a definite lack of fundamentals on this team. Salad’s fielding, other little things.

    Snitker is not the guy long term or even medium term, IMO.

  49. That was an absolute disgrace by Tyler Flowers. This game is in extra innings for no good reason whatsoever.

  50. @58, what’s inconsistent about wanting the best SS in our system to play (instead of Aybar). He skipped a level because we had nothing at all at the position. I’d make the same argument for Albies, but the FO went and got a better player from the outside.

  51. @69

    If you like your catcher barely moving and waving his glove in the general direction of the ball on a pitch in the dirt with the tying run at third and two outs in the ninth…

  52. Im going to start responding to you, krussell, as if I were you–that is, willfully obtuse

    @68, well if your such a Albie’s fan why don’t you go ahead and voat for him for all-star’s lol

  53. I sincerely hope someone turns over the postgame spread and makes sure nobody gets any dinner. What a ridiculous clown show!

  54. @71, I have literally no idea why you continuously respond to me, I wish you could show more self restraint. You need more seasoning.

    @70, ugh…really? I guess we haven’t lost that way yet, might as well check a new box.

  55. Rushed Braves
    Play like knaves
    Fundamentals beyond reasoning
    Even Jim Johnson could use more seasoning

  56. Bad fundamentals for sure .. I want to hear Flowers excuse for not blocking the ball.. he had just went out to the mound .. he probably said throw it in the dirt and I will back hand it .. pitiful .. wasted a great outingpoo.. 22 hits 2 runs .. but defense beats us again .. bullpen is gonna have some blown

  57. Sorry typos got me .. no excuse for not blocking pitch with body .. he does that we win .. plain and simple .. these guys suppose to be major leagers.. stupid plays ..

  58. We scored 2 runs off Bronson Arroyo? That’s a well deserved L, no matter how it happened.

  59. On the farm, the Braves had four starts tonight ranging from excellent to decent and lost them all.

  60. Can’t wait for Blazon’s report from the field. I hope that divorce attorney bought him a couple extra drinks.

  61. The ability to tell in advance whether or not a player is about to be rushed seems to me to fall in the realm of the unknowable. Given that, wouldn’t assigning a player to a particular level fall under the heading of organizational meritocracy? And if in fact it is knowable, and Dansby is being rushed, is it the Braves inability to recognize this or their willingness to do so despite the consequences the case here?

  62. Wow, this team is finding new ways to lose lately. Failing to hit the ghost of Bronson Arroyo and a bullpen collapse.

  63. Sean Newcomb took a shutout to the 7th tonight, but he was close to 100 pitches, was taken out after the first 2 hitters reached in the inning and the bullpen failed.

    Alex Jackson is still out. Wonder what’s going on.

  64. Newcomb and Sims are as ready as they are gonna be this year. I guess we’re waiting on bobble head night.

    @86, I would agree with it being a meritocracy. We have a bad major league team, with some guys in the minors looking better than those in the majors. In a vacuum, that should never be the case for long periods of time…but there’s the macro level issues of payroll, service times, and competition windows.

    I can see the arguments for keeping Albies down. He’s not gonna help tremendously right away. The pitching definitely could help.

    But we’re already out if it, so the only benefit to calling up youngsters is to let them get the experience. I think that’s a good reason though. It seems better than waiting for that perfect time a year or two from now where everything comes together at once and we have 10 rookies on the roster.

  65. @56

    baseball savants…perfect…they don’t go to Juillard for 4 years…they play in front of the Austrian Emperor at his court age 6…Maitan is in that league

    So is Max Verstappen driving and winning in a Formula One car age 17. Umpteen examples in top flight European soccer.

    We love the game of baseball. That does not require us to worship at its feet – it’s so specially difficult to learn etc etc. It may be but the savant is quite careless of that.

    The skill is identifying one such, having the courage to take off his shackles and letting him run. If you’re wrong then so be it…there are a thousand other hopefuls waiting in the next room. Find another and when you do, GET HIM UP!

  66. the baseball savant
    hopes it’s him that you want
    but he’s a little quirky
    call me up please before i’m thirkey.

  67. Impressions from the GABP…

    ‘live’, Folty, branded by me and others a few days ago, was very impressive in the way he carried himself. Everything studied, deliberate, slow. There wasn’t a bad call or such to test him but good for him.

    Flowers…yes, but, his bat has more than earned his breaks and there aren’t that many.

    So good to see Dansby produce – and look happy away from STP

    Adams- nothing. Kemp, man with boys, not good on the bases!

    Devin Mesoracho…the way to win a ball game, magnificent power, cracked off the bat like a rifle shot..

    Brandon may have gone ofer but he got a warm reception from the crowd, prolonged, to which he responded with a thank you video clip shown on the big screens between innings.

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