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2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Atlanta Braves

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Atlanta in 2016

17 – Ian Anderson
25 – Joey Wentz
87 – Brett Cumberland
92 – Kyle Muller
275 – Bryse Wilson
376 – Drew Harrington

Complete List of 2016 Atlanta Braves Draftees

1.3 – RHP Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson (17) is a better prospect than the number in parentheses next to his name indicates. A general fear of high school pitching caused him to move down my final board — a board with Groome/Pint in the top two spots, go figure — but I like the Braves going bold (and underslot) with Anderson at three. The logic behind the pick feels sound (in a draft with no sure-things, spread that bonus around to take as many stabs at early round talent as you can) and the player they actually landed is as good a bet as any first round pick to make a difference over the long haul. Feels like a win-win to me. A few older notes on Anderson from April 2016…

Fans of twenty-nine other teams would not like this one bit. Ian Anderson, a dark-horse 1-1 candidate, has everything you’d want to see in a high school righthander with worlds of projection left. He also helps my pet theory that there’s an easy shortcut to amateur scouting: just follow the recruits. If a player is committed to Vanderbilt, like Ian Anderson is, move him up ___ spots on your board. Let the college teams do the hard work for you! Vanderbilt, Florida, UCLA, LSU…if a guy has a commitment to a school on that level, then you should want to draft him. I loved Anderson as much as anybody as he began to put his name on the national map, but once he had that Vandy commit in his back pocket he started looking better than ever.

You can ignore the college commitment thing if you want, but the “dark-horse 1-1 candidate” bit is worth keeping in mind. I saw some kill Atlanta for reaching badly for Anderson here, but it’s hard to call a pitcher identified as a dark-horse 1-1 candidate two months before the draft all that much of a reach at three. From April 2016 as well…

A pre-season FAVORITE who has only gone on to bigger and better things in the interim, Ian Anderson can make a case for being the top prep righthander in this class. He’s one of the handful of young arms with the potential for three plus pitches — 88-94 fastball (95 peak), 77-80 breaking ball, and a 80-85 change — but what truly separates him from the pack is his ten years in the big league veteran command. Fantasy owners rightfully scared off by high school pitchers — so far from the big leagues with so much time to get hurt! — not named Groome and Pint would be wise to include Anderson in that big three on draft day. One scout friend of mine called Anderson a “more explosive Aaron Nola.” A little bit of upside (or a lot), a little bit of certainty (very little, but still more than most HS arms)…where do I sign up?

“More explosive Aaron Nola” is exceedingly high praise, I’d say. Anderson has a legit claim to three future plus pitches (88-94 sinking FB, 96 peak; 75-80 CB, 80-85 CU) with plus command and plenty of projection left in his 6-3, 170 pound frame. I’m literally not sure what more you could want in a high school pitching prospect. Atlanta’s system is loaded with both high-end (albeit risky) talent and crazy depth, so offseason prospect rankings of the team’s farm will be some of the most interesting we’ve seen in years. There’s so much top-heavy talent that there’s really no wrong way to organize the team’s cream of the crop (or at least I hope not…); hopefully my kind of out there take that the two best prospects in the system right now are Anderson and Kolby Allard in some order (with mystery man Kevin Maitan on the same tier but too hard for me to place just yet) isn’t seen as too nuts. On second thought, who really cares if it is?

1.40 – LHP Joey Wentz

You’re free to ignore my Joey Wentz (25) take considering I initially liked him better as a hitter than a pitcher after seeing him for the first time last summer. That’s when I first starting thinking of him as a bigger Pavin Smith, a comp that feels outdated now that we know Wentz is a pro pitcher and Smith will soon be a pro hitter. Probably wasn’t a great comp to begin with considering the two guys throw with opposite hands, but what’s done is done. Moving past that, we’re free to talk about Wentz and how fantastic he looked on the mound for scouts all spring. With a big fastball (89-94, 96 peak), a 69-76 curve with above-average to plus promise, and a 79-85 change that looks a little better with every chance he has to throw it, Wentz has the kind of stuff to pitch near the front of a rotation. His command is far better than you’d expect out of two-way performer, but his control remains a bit of a work in progress. The all-around package is very enticing, and his athleticism (plus whatever you get out of him as a hitter, assuming our little non-DH league survives) and physical strength (“very well put together” was a familiar post-draft refrain) are cherries on top.

Interestingly enough (to me), I have no comps for Wentz. Asked around — hence the “very well put together” bit — and nobody could offer nothing. Closest I got was the “not a real comp” comp of the high school version of Madison Bumgarner (pre-slider) based on very general shared traits like size, strength, athleticism, ability at the plate, and fastball velocity. Again, that’s not a direct comparison by any stretch — and, as mentioned a few times lately around here, Bumgarner’s development makes him a tough guy to comp any young pitcher to — but it’s the closest I got all spring/summer for the “uncompable” Wentz.

2.44 – LHP Kyle Muller

Apparently Atlanta liked Joey Wentz so much that they decided to grab him again just four picks later. Fine, Kyle Muller (92) isn’t an exact clone of Wentz, but the two are close. Both had dominant springs in competitive high school environments. Both have seen considerable velocity jumps over the past twelve months. Both were seen by some as better hitters (hey, even if I was the only one who liked Wentz’s bat that much, it still counts!) at one point or another during their amateur careers. And both are lefthanders with intimidating size. Their differences, however, help explain the roughly half-million dollar difference paid out to the two on draft day. Honestly, I assumed it would have been a larger difference before I started typing that sentence. Let’s use this one instead: Their differences, however, explain why one guy (Wentz) was ranked 25th on the pre-draft board while the other (Muller) came in at 92nd. Little self-serving, but better.

The point either way is that Wentz is the better prospect than Muller. That doesn’t mean Muller is a bad prospect, obviously; it simply means that Wentz is better. Muller’s present fastball (85-92, 94 peak) isn’t quite on the same level as Wentz’s and his offspeed stuff (73-78 CB, 77 CU) tops out as average for now unlike Wentz’s potential plus breaker. When Wentz can look like a potential game one or two playoff starter at his best, Muller’s ceiling feels closer to the middle of the rotation than the top. He’s still a really good prospect with as much a chance to become a great one than to fade away.

2.76 – C Brett Cumberland

On Brett Cumberland (87) from April 2016…

Brett Cumberland primary claim to fame is and will be his bat. His hit tool is legit and his power is really appealing. He’s also been described to me as a guy who can be pitched to while also being the kind of smart, naturally gifted hitter who can then make adjustments on the fly. His glove is more “good enough” than good, but there’s enough there that you can work with him to make it work.

I’ve since heard two things about Cumberland’s defense behind the plate. First, Atlanta is going to do whatever it takes to work with him to make it work as a catcher. Second, he’s not a catcher. Those two bits of information could not possibly make less sense when lumped together as one, yet they 100% could both be true. I believe in Cumberland enough as a hitter to think he could carve out a big league role for himself even if he can’t catch regularly. I also believe that said role (bat-first 1B/C platoon and/or bench option?) would not quite justify his second round pedigree. It’s not quite so simple to say that Cumberland has to catch to make this pick worth it, but…he kind of has to catch to make this pick worth it. That is, unless you really believe in him as a hitter. I qualified my earlier belief in his bat with “enough” and “could,” so that should tell you something about where I stand there. I still like the pick because, as an upside junkie, getting a potential impact offensive catcher this late in the draft is a rare and beautiful thing. If you have any confidence at all you can squeeze out an average-ish defender out of him behind the plate, then this is worth a shot. I’d personally lean towards wanting a better defensive catcher (Sean Murphy and Jeremy Martinez were two of the next three catchers off the board, FWIW) to grow and work with the bevy of young pitchers coming up through the system.

3.80 – LHP Drew Harrington

Drew Harrington (376) breaks my longstanding rule of exhausting a pitcher out as a starter before moving him to the bullpen as a last resort. I’d still have Harrington pitch in a minor league rotation as long as possible, but I think a future in a big league bullpen as a two-pitch reliever (88-93 fastball with plenty of movement, above-average to plus 76-82 breaking ball he leans on heavily) suits him better than trying to get through a lineup multiple times as a potential fifth starter. Harrington as a reliever at Louisville missed bats like crazy. I’d take more of the 2015 version of Harrington (12.19 K/9 and 0.29 ERA in 31.0 relief innings) than the 2016 starting pitching version (6.95 K/9 and 2.08 ERA in 103.2 IP). I get the value of a starter over a reliever, and I think Atlanta would be wise to keep him starting as long as he can handle it. HOWEVER, Harrington looks like a future reliever to me any way you slice it. Getting him accustomed to that role sooner rather than later seems like good business to me. It also doesn’t hurt that Atlanta has a much-discussed starting pitching surplus throughout the system. Get Harrington in the bullpen and I think he could pitch his way into the relief mix by 2018.

To add fuel to my Harrington as reliever fire, Frankie Pilliere dropped one of my all-time favorite comps on the young lefty from Louisville this spring. Ready for this one? Pilliere said that Harrington reminded him of Ron Villone. How great is that? I love that the MLB Draft allows us to discuss a player compared to Ron Villone. And it’s a really good comp, too!

4.109 – RHP Bryse Wilson

The internet is a big place, so I’m quite sure that somebody else has already done this. Just in case…

26.2 IP 29 K 8 BB 2 ER
27.2 IP 38 K 12 BB 2 ER
39.2 IP 36 K 12 BB 9 ER
44.0 IP 53 K 25 BB 18 ER

Those are the debut lines for the four high school pitchers selected by Atlanta within their first six picks. That comes out to a 2.02 ERA in 138 IP with 10.17 K/9 and 3.72 BB/9. If we take out the “worst” (relative term!) of the quartet (sorry, Joey Wentz), then the numbers look like this: 9.86 K/9, 3.06 BB/9, and 1.24 ERA in 94 IP. That’s insane. I don’t love what Atlanta did once we get past the first few rounds, but it may not matter if these prep pitchers pan out as hoped. Bryse Wilson (275), the latest prep pitcher in question, looks like a keeper. He shares many of the same traits as the three high school pitchers to come before him — dominant spring performance, athletic, good fastballs — with a little less size and physical projection left than his peers. That’s not much of a problem when a) you’re already hitting the mid-90s with your fastball, and b) you’re no longer talking about a player being taken in the first hundred picks. Wilson’s big arm (88-94, 96 peak), intriguing 77-80 slider, and deceptive if sometimes unruly delivery give him a solid relief floor even if starting doesn’t work out.

5.139 – RHP Jeremy Walker

Jeremy Walker is pretty close to the ascending college pitcher prototype. He’s been good in the past, sure, but his best days look to be ahead of him. I was impressed with his jump in strikeouts from his sophomore season (6.86 K/9) to his junior year (8.88 K/9), and he kept that up in his pro debut (8.39 K/9). I’ve long looked at his as a future reliever because I could see his fastball eventually living in the mid- to upper-90s with a wipeout hard slider, but he’s got the size, athleticism, and third pitch (not a change, but a softer curve) to get through the order multiple times. I like this pick a lot. So often I’ll go fifth starter/middle reliever on a college guy’s upside, but Walker is a clear cut above that for me. I think he’s either a mid-rotation arm or a late-inning reliever. He’s good.

6.169 – 2B Matt Gonzalez

I’ve really, really liked Atlanta’s draft to this point. This, however, is where the wheels begin to come off a little bit for me. Fortunately (because my opinion is all that matters, naturally), Atlanta came back around with some later picks like Rowland, White (x2), Howell, Benson, Crowley, Clouse, and Pokorney. Until then, we get a little bit of a lull. Now back to your regularly scheduled pick-by-pick analysis…

We probably should have seen this coming. Matt Gonzalez went from a Georgia HS (Harrison) to Georgia Tech to Atlanta, Georgia. He looks the part and has many of the physical skills needed to reach the big leagues, but his approach at the plate has long limited his overall value as a hitter. His prospect status gets a slight bump thanks to his defensive versatility — he played second, third, and left field in his debut — and there’s always some hope that a player as talented as he looked to be entering Georgia Tech will figure things out in the pros. I have a hard time getting on board with a college prospect without overwhelming tools who enters pro ball with a 63 BB/191 K college mark, but Atlanta did not consult me before making the pick.

7.199 – OF JB Moss

I love that the Braves went aggressive in promoting JB Moss to High-A Carolina after just about 100 or so impressive plate appearances in rookie ball. That promotion didn’t go all that well, but if you’re drafting a 23-year-old in the seventh round then you should expect him to be able to handle a full-season assignment as soon as possible. If the experience helps Moss start strong at High-A next season, it’ll have been worth it. For as much as I love the aggressive promotion, I’m not quite as in love with the prospect. Moss has clear big league skills in his speed, center field range, and throwing arm, but offensively he’s too much of a hacker to justify his below-average pop. I suppose taking players like Moss is just the cost of doing business when you go overslot early in the draft. Still, there are other senior-signs that could offer more than his fifth outfielder upside.

8.229 – LHP Taylor Hyssong

A jump in velocity from the upper-80s to the low-90s (94 peak) helped Tyler Hyssong get drafted in the eighth round. He might not have been my preferred senior-sign in this case, but I suppose there’s some logic in getting a low-mileage lefthander with that kind of velocity when you can.

9.259 – OF Tyler Neslony

On Tyler Neslony from April 2016…

Tyler Neslony, the top returning position player prospect in the conference per this very site (he peaked at third behind CJ Hinojosa and Ben Johnson last year), is hurt by the strong likelihood that he’ll be confined to the corners as a pro. I still like his power and plate discipline combination as a mid- to late-round senior sign. Scouts who saw a lot of him during his awesome sophomore season will likely give him more of the benefit of the doubt than those in the national media who consider going fifty deep with a draft list an exhausting task.

As alluded to above, Neslony looked like a contender to eventually crash the top first few rounds after his humongous sophomore season (.375/.454/.600 with 20 BB/16 K), but never quite reached the same peaks over his next two seasons at Texas Tech. I think the barrier to entry as a corner outfielder is likely too high for Neslony, but I can get behind him as a potential platoon and/or bench bat if he can keep hitting.

10.289 – SS Marcus Mooney

Marcus Mooney is about as straightforward an evaluation you’re going to get. Defensively, he’s reliable with good hands and a strong arm without exceptional range. Offensively, he has a knack for making lots of contact but his overall upside is limited due to a lack of pop and merely average foot speed. His work ethic and demeanor in the clubhouse make him exactly the kind of player you want other prospects in the organization to learn from. The fact he can play multiple spots — he saw time at short, second, and third in his debut — makes him a perpetually useful plug-and-play option. If he hangs on long enough there’s at least a glimmer of hope he can one day be a big league utility guy, but that’s a long shot at this point. There’s still some real overarching developmental value with having a guy like him on your side, but I get that this isn’t a pick that will excited the masses.

11.319 – RHP Matt Rowland

I like Matt Rowland a lot more today than I did a few months ago and that’s without the benefit of having thrown a single professional pitch yet in his career. The one-man operation I’ve got going here means that occasionally my information will be dated enough to render it more or less useless. Between that and the fact that some teenagers simply refuse to stop growing and getting stronger, I can miss on certain players due to bad or old information. My notes on Rowland paint a picture of a 6-3, 180 pound kid with some projection left, a present 86-91 fastball, and a pair of inconsistent breaking balls that often run into each other. The current version of Rowland is listed at 6-5, 175 pounds with a fastball that can hit the mid-90s and a much sharper breaking ball thrown with far more consistent power.

12.349 – RHP Brandon White

Born 12/21/1994. Outstanding pro debut. Good size. Went to school at Lander. Got $100,000 to sign. Put up these numbers –13.40 K/9 and 3.13 BB/9 in 40.1 IP — as the Bearcats closer. Leans on a solid cut-slider he’ll throw in any count. Not a ton of upside, but relatively high floor as a potential quick-moving reliever with a long track record of missing bats. Nice pick.

13.379 – RHP Brandon White

Born 12/6/1992. Decent pro debut. Good size. Went to school at Davenport. Got $85,000 to sign. Did this — 9.44 K/9 and 1.77 BB/9 in 61.0 IP — in the Panthers rotation. College teammates with Corbin Clouse, Atlanta’s twenty-seventh round pick (see below). Athletic delivery with a fast arm capable of running it up to the mid- to upper-90s (97 peak) gives him more upside than most thirteenth round picks, but he’ll have to move quick as a 23-year-old rookie. With his heat that’s certainly possible assuming he is shifted full-time to the bullpen. Nice pick.

14.409 – 1B Ramon Osuna

When I reached out to a few different contacts for information on Ramon Osuna the first thing out of each guy’s mouth was about the kind of person and worker he is. Talk about his baseball ability came second, but everybody (two people, fine) wanted to share how good a guy he was first and foremost. How much that matters to you is a personal call, but, if nothing else, I think it makes rooting for Atlanta’s fourteenth round pick a lot easier from the outside looking in. Osuna, of course, is more than just a nice fellow, snappy dresser, and good tipper.. His final year at Walters State saw him hit a robust .389/.513/.755 with 54 BB/45 K and 12/12 SB in 208 AB. The big (6-3, 240) lefty moves well enough for his size to have played some outfield for the Senators, though first base was the only position he spent time at in his pro debut. Curtailing some of the swing-and-miss in his game would go a long way to moving him from “intriguing” to “hey, this guy is legit and more people need to pay attention” as a prospect, but his power and underrated athleticism are enough to get him on the radar for now.

15.439 – RHP Zach Becherer

I write draft reviews across the league in a scattershot way, jumping from team to team depending on my current mood. One hour I might be working on the Rockies, the next hour I might come back to Atlanta. It’s all about my motivation in that given moment as well as the flow of information I’m getting at that time about that team. Sometimes that produces some odd looking results. I walked away from Atlanta’s draft for about a month to finish other team reports (and, you know, real life stuff), so when I finally came back to this one week ago things looked a little…chaotic. Here are my unedited notes on Zach Becherer, Braves fifteenth round pick…

Cool video can be found on Zach Becherer here.

14.33 K/9 in 27.0 IP

same school as unsigned Dayton Tripp, who is off to Lipscomb.

only 5 starts

88-92 (93), 76-81 BB

95, reports of rumored higher peaks

April 13th TJ surgery

17.499 – RHP Devan Watts

Devan Watts struck out 11.31 batters per nine innings in his junior season at Tusculum. That figure helped up his two-year mark to 10.93 with a 2.26 BB/9 and 2.44 ERA to go with it. He’s part of a larger draft trend of emphasizing track record and not worrying about level of competition or size. The converted infielder’s reputation as a hard sinker/slider ground ball roller didn’t quite hold up in a pro debut he actually allowed more fly balls than ground balls, but everything else about his start in pro ball (9.89 K/9 and 0.76 ER in 23.2 IP) looks good from the outside looking in.

18.569 – LHP Zach Rice

Much respect to Atlanta’s area guy down in North Carolina if this one works out. Zach Rice has always been regarded as a live-armed lefty (87-92 FB, 94 peak; 82-84 SL) with considerable natural talent, but getting him the innings needed to show off his ability has been a persistent challenge. His ugly pro debut was certainly less than both he and Atlanta could have hoped for, but at least he was out on a mound for an extended period of time. The 17.2 IP he threw Danville almost matched his innings total (36.1) achieved in three seasons as a Tar Heel. Some of the sting of that rough start can also be taken away when Rice’s age (20-years-old all season, young for his class) is taken into account. The Braves seemed to bet big on many small school prospects who put up big numbers later in the draft. This pick is the complete opposite of that. I like the diversification of their draft portfolio in that way.

19.599 – LHP Tucker Davidson

Tucker Davidson used his good stuff (everybody raves about his slider) to get off to a great start in pro ball. He’s well worth watching going forward. Davidson also gets high marks from the numbers side of my brain for doing this at Midland JC: 9.47 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, and 2.27 ERA in 71.1 IP. Those numbers look good without context, but consider that the cumulative staff ERA at Midland this past year was 5.49. Without Davidson, the staff ERA would have jumped to 6.10.

20.589 – 2B Gabe Howell

I say it a lot, but any high school prospect signed after the completion of the top ten rounds is a gamble worth taking. Gabe Howell, twentieth round pick of Atlanta, is no exception. Howell is an exceptional athlete with legit plus speed and burgeoning power. There’s some uncertainty about where he’ll wind up defensively — the prep shortstop played third in his debut, but could also be tried at second or center to see what sticks — but he’s a skilled enough player to make it work somewhere. Great pick.

21.619 – RHP Dalton Carroll

Dalton Carroll’s career K/9’s by season as a Ute: 4.81 in 2013, 5.76 in 2014, 5.42 K/9 in 2015, and 5.15 in 2016. Once he signed his first pro contract and put on a Danville Brave jersey, his K/9 spiked to 8.46. Stuff like that really reinforces the pointlessness of trying to guess what direction 18- to 22-year-old ballplayers’ careers will go. That doesn’t mean we’ll quit trying, of course. Carroll has decent stuff — 88-92 FB (94 peak) with two average or so offspeed pitches (change and slider) — and solid command, so he should continue to pitch well in the low-minors. His big test will come around AA or so. It’s a fifth starter skill set if it all works out, but middle relief seems his most likely realistic destination if he is to make it in the big leagues.

22.649 – 1B Alex Lee

Alex Lee finished up his final year at Samford as one of college baseball’s most productive senior bats. The lefthander hit .335/.421/.523 with 35 BB/28 K in 239 AB. That alone makes him a nice pick in my book. The most likely outcome is probably organizational hitter with a slim chance at being an up-and-down bench bat, but the process (find enough highly productive amateur bats) is more important to me here than the probable result.

23.679 – 1B Griffin Benson

Griffin Benson was being pulled over by a police offer when he found out the Braves had drafted him. That’s great. It’s also all I have on him. The earlier rule about there being no such thing as a bad high school pick after round ten applies to Benson. He’s big (6-5, 210), he’s a switch-hitter, and he’s from Texas. Works for me.

24.709 – OF Matt Hearn

Turns out that Atlanta really love their California Community College Baseball players. One such player is Matt Hearn, an outfielder who hit .383/.458/.467 with 22 BB/11 K in 193 PA at Mission JC this past spring. He didn’t hit nearly that well in his pro debut and the quick notes I had on him weren’t particularly encouraging (good approach, but not quite enough power/speed to make an impact), but I can’t get too mad at a team taking a shot on a guy with twice as many walks as whiffs in his draft year.

25.739 – 3B Ryan O’Malley

Ryan O’Malley hit .335/.442/.557 with 34 BB/34 K in 176 AB for Sonoma State in 2016. I don’t mean to oversimplify the Braves approach — and keep in mind I’m only guessing as best an outsider can — but it appears that performance matters and level of competition isn’t all that much a concern. I can dig it. Feels a little Cardinals-y.

26.769 – C Alan Crowley

Forgive me for having to double-check if it’s Alan Crowley from Reedley or Alan Reedley from Crowley. Either way, it appears the Braves have done it again. Crowley hit .363/.463/.525 with 24 BB/18 K in 190 PA at Reedley this past year. The power spike was new for him, but the plus approach has always been a part of his game. All I know beyond that is that he’s good enough defensively to stick behind the plate. Works for me.

27.799 – LHP Corbin Clouse

75 strikeouts and 25 walks in 50 innings. That’s a very pretty line. And it’s exactly what Corbin Clouse did as a redshirt-sophomore at Davenport. His numbers were even better in the pros, though slightly less pretty to look at. In 30.1 IP (damn that third of an inning), Clouse struck out 53 batters and walked 15. That’s good for a 15.74 K/9 and a 4.46 BB/9 with the majority of his innings taking place in Low-A. I can dig it. His stuff fits the standard sinker/slider middle relief prototype with the added benefit of coming from the left side. He can also mix in a curve that flashes average or better and a nascent change, but both pitches have largely been phased out in lieu that one-two low-90s sinker/low-80s slider punch better suited to relief work. Fantastic work by the Braves zeroing in on this guy. It wouldn’t shock me to see him contribute to a big league bullpen as early as the middle of next season.

28.829 – 2B Nick Shumpert

A little bit of data can mean a lot to me. I don’t know if that makes me a “box score scout” or what, but the one-eighty spin I did on Nick Shumpert from 2015 to 2016 was based far more on performance informing an opinion than projection influencing judgment. I can live with whatever that makes me. Here’s some of what was written about the high school version of Shumpert…

Nick Shumpert (Highlands Ranch HS, Colorado) is another high-level easy to like middle infield prospect. On straight tools alone, he might rank second only to Rodgers in this year’s high school shortstop class. If power upside is what you want, I’d say he’s pretty clearly second only to Rodgers. That average or better raw power combined with a fascinating mixture of athleticism, arm strength (average, maybe more), speed (above-average, plays up), defensive upside (love him at second, but think he could also excel at short in time), and bat speed (so hard to measure objectively, but whatever it is he has it) make him a pretty large personal favorite. He’s even got the big league bloodlines thing going for him, if you’re into that sort of thing. If there’s a player in this class I’d compare to [Brandon] Phillips, it would be Shumpert and his explosive hands at the plate.

And here’s something written about Kyle Lewis and scouting hitting in general that applies…

It goes back to something I mentioned in the comments section a few weeks back: guys either learn to hit or they don’t. That’s my paraphrased take from this scout’s quote talking about the likelihood of Jahlil Okafor improving his outside shot as a professional: “He needs to become a better shooter and free throw shooter. He either will or he won’t.” Scouts work very hard evaluating amateur and minor league talent across the country, so their collective insight into projecting a young hitter’s future is not to be dismissed. But…can we ever really know how a guy is going to react when thrown into the professional environment? A 95 MPH fastball with movement is a 95 MPH fastball with movement at any level. Plus speed, outstanding glove work, and the ability to miss bats are all translatable skills when honed properly. Hitting is an entirely different animal.

The possibility that Shumpert won’t hit enough to tap into his big raw power feels a lot more real now after a year of underwhelming junior college stats (.284/.348/.420 with 15 BB/51 K) than it did when his future as a hitter was, like all high school prospects, a larger unknown. Having written all this and dropped Shumpert way down on my personal rankings, I should be clear that I don’t think he’s a bad prospect nor do I believe the Braves made a bad move here. If anything, Atlanta getting him in the twenty-eighth round is a serious coup. What made Shumpert so appealing in the first place remains; his considerable physical gifts as outlined above remain present. We know more about his bat — or we think we know more, at least — and that has changed his overall future value, but that hardly makes investing in his development not worth it. It could just be that Shumpert will take time. Most twenty-eighth round picks aren’t afforded that luxury, but Shumpert is a talented enough guy that he should get what he needs in pro ball.

29.859 – OF Jackson Pokorney

Prospects like Jackson Pokorney are right at home in the twenty-ninth round. Athletic, speedy, physical, and still a bit raw, Pokorney was a star at Mater Dei HS (the Indiana one, not the California one…I had to check and recheck that myself a few times) in both baseball and football. The switch-hitter makes a lot more contact than you’d expect from such a late pick, so consider me bullish on his future as a hitter. I like this one.

30.889 – RHP Cameron Stanton

Cameron Stanton had a good year for St. Edward’s baseball: 8.07 K/9, 1.75 BB/9, 3.16 ERA. All fine marks on the surface. Unfortunately, two of those three stats were actually worse than the overall team performance on the year. As a pitching staff, Hilltopper pitchers (including Stanton) did this: 8.74 K/9, 2.59 BB/9, and 2.63 ERA. That doesn’t negate the nice work done by Stanton, but a little context never hurt anybody. When it comes to contextual production, consider Stanton the anti-Tucker Davidson.

32.949 – RHP Ryan Schlosser

I’m wasn’t happy I didn’t have anything on Ryan Schlosser in my notes. Then I realized he attended a junior college that I’ve literally never heard of and felt a tiny bit better. Schlosser, the pride of Century College (located in beautiful White Bear Lake, Minnesota) put up really good sophomore numbers for the Wood Ducks: 11.91 K/9 and 3.57 BB/9 in 68.0 IP. Schlosser is the first player from Century College drafted since 2013. The Braves selected Jared Dettmann that year. Hmm. It’s also worth noting (or not) that the Wood Ducks best hitter (arguably) was named Wes Anderson. Neat.

34.1009 – OF Jared James

Long Beach State transfer Jared James hit .312/.411/.494 with 32 BB/24 K and 14/18 SB in his senior season at Division II Cal Poly Pomona. He kept right on hitting as a pro. In a debut highlighted by a sensational 101 PA in Low-A, James hit a combined .300/.379/.420 with 21 BB/30 K in 207 AB. Can’t speak to anything but the production you see before you, but that’s impressive enough to at least get on the deepest depths of the prospect radar heading into 2017.

39.1159 – LHP Parker Danciu

Decent stuff (87-90 from the left side) with good size (6-3, 220) turned into pretty terrible junior year numbers (4.57 K/9 and 5.74 ERA in 84.2 IP) at Marshall. Then he signed a pro contract and got not terrible again: 7.89 K/9 and 2.43 ERA in 29.2 IP. Baseball is a funny game, they say. Parker Danciu is living proof.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Dylan Beasley (Berry), Dayton Tripp (Lipscomb), Zac Kristofak (Georgia), Andres Perez (North Georgia), Michael Gizzi (?), Handsome Monica (Louisiana), Cameron Jabara (Oregon), Josh Anthony (Auburn)

I can’t for the life of me figure out why this Josh Anthony story wasn’t picked up by any of the national draft/prospect writers…

Anthony confirmed to the Montgomery Advertiser that Atlanta executives called him Friday morning to say they could no longer honor their offer. Anthony said Braves officials informed his father that if they signed Anthony to the agreed upon amount that would put them over Major League Baseball’s bonus pool cap and force them to potentially lose a future draft pick.

“They told me that if they honored the deal then that would put them in the tax and so they couldn’t do it,” Anthony said. “I was ready to sign and they revoked the offer.”

I get that offers can be pulled at any time. I get that the draft rules put teams in crummy situations like this far too often. Still feels like a low thing for Atlanta to do. Maybe I’m wrong and there’s a lot more to it than I know. Optics look bad from here, though.

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