Monday, June 04, 2007

A couple of draft possibilities for Atlanta.

With the MLB draft just a few days away, it's got me thinking of just who the Braves are going to take with the 14th overall pick. There is a lot of players that I think they should take, most of which are pitchers, but here is a list of 1st round possibilities for the Atlanta Braves.

1. Blake Beavan, RHP

Height: 6'7"
Weight: 210
Age: 18
B/T: R/R
School: Irving High School (Irving, TX)

Blake Beavan is a right-handed flamethrower from Irving Texas and is drawing many comparisons to the Big Unit, Randy Johnson for his size, intimidation factor and his ability to strike out batters. Beavan is one of the top pitching prospects in this years upcoming draft and teams would be foolish to pass up on this kid.

With his ability to funnel his fiery attitude into a positive attribute, he impressed everyone going 8-1 with a 0.36 ERA, while striking out 99 batters in just 58 innings of work this past season. He has had a lot of success going back to his time on USA's Youth National Team he went 3-0 with a 1.10 ERA and helped the United States to a silver medal. Not only is he a great pitcher, he can also hit very well, he put up a .379 batting average and had 26 hits and 16 RBI's.

2. Jason Heyward, OF/1B

Height: 6'2"
Weight: 198
Age: 17
B/T: L/L
School: Henry County High School (McDonough, GA)

Jason Heyward is a versatile player that can play multiple positions and posses "intriguing raw power" that has many scouts comparing him to former All-Star, Fred McGriff. He has a big, muscular frame that allows him to generate a lot of power into his swing.

Heyward is not only a great power hitter, he is very good defensively as well and much like a current Brave, Jeff Francoeur, he's equipped with an absolute cannon for an arm that has some thinking he could do some pitching beyond high school. This past season he led his high school, McDonough High, to the school's first state championship in baseball, hitting .456 with five home runs, 41 runs and 23 stolen bases. The only problem with Heyward is that he in all likelihood will be off the board by time the Braves make their selection.

3. Josh Smoker, LHP

Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195
Age: 18
B/T: L/L
School: Calhoun High School (Sugar Valley, GA)

Josh Smoker is one of the top lefthanded pitchers in this year's draft and with his fluid pitching motion it reminds me of Braves' current starter, Chuck James. He has exceptional upside and with that loose and easy delivery it enables him to generate low-90s fastballs and an above-average changeup.

Even though he doesn't over power hitters, he is able to record a lot of strikeouts. This past season, Smoker went 8-2 1.52 ERA with 88 strikeouts in just 50 innings of work. And if you think that is impressive, then look at his numbers he put up as a sophomore. As a sophomore he went 12-0 with an astonishing 0.09 ERA and broke his own school strikeout record with 137 in 75 innings in leading Calhoun to the Georgia Class 2-A State Championship.

According to a mock draft done by John Sickles over at Minor League Ball, Smoker is the Braves' first round selection.

4. Matt Harvey, RHP

Height: 6'4"
Weight: 190
Age: 18
B/T: R/R
School: Fitch Senior High School (Mystic, CT)

Matt Harvey is also one of the top ten pitchers in this years draft and he has all the makings to be a great #2 pitcher for a long time. He has a loose fluid delivery and is able to pound the strike zone with in upwards of five pitches all of which he throws very well. His fastball can reach up to 95 at any given time, he also has one of the best, if not the best change up in this years draft, a two-seam fastball, a curve ball that has good spin and movement and a hard slider that breaks quickly. Matt also has experience at the closer role, which could increase his value. Something that is seeing him drop down draft boards has nothing to do with talent, it's because of his adviser, which is Scott Boras, and that leads teams to believe that he may be difficult to sign because of Boras' history.

Harvey led Fitch High to Connecticut's Class 2-A State Championship as a junior, posting a 5-0 record with two saves and a 0.82 ERA. In 43 innings he racked up 80 strikeouts against 14 walks with 13 hits allowed. He is a great pitcher and a team, say the 14-20 range could find themselves a steal, should he drop that low because of Boras of course, which it seems he may.

5. Tim Alderson, RHP

Height: 6'7"
Weight: 208
Age: 18
B/T: R/R
School: Horizon High School (Phoenix, AZ)

It's pretty easy to see why so many teams and scouts are enamored with Arizona prep star, he has great command on all of his pitches and is just as good as anyone in the high school ranks. He hardly walks anyone and he can reach 95+ on the radar guns. To compliment Alderson's 95+ fastball he has a nasty curveball that breaks hard.

Alderson led his Horizon High team this past season as the team's ace as he compiled an 8-3 record with a 0.95 ERA. He also recorded 122 strikeouts and eight walks on his way to being selected the Class 5-A Player of the Year by the Scottsdale Tribune. As a sophomore at Horizon, Tim went 8-1 with an astonishing 0.13 ERA. But with an unorthodox delivery it has some scouts concerned and it could end up meaning him dropping to the later picks in the first round.

The MLB Draft starts this coming Thursday and ends Friday(7th-8th) and for the first time it will be on national television. Expect me to be live blogging this much like I live blogged the NFL Draft and will be live blogging the NBA Draft when it happens.

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