Braves say college-heavy draft not a philosophy shift – updated

The Braves’ first 10 picks of the draft have come from the college ranks, a significant break from how the Braves have typically drafted in the past. They didn’t take a high schooler Tuesday until the 11th round, when they selected Seth Morando, an infielder from Buchanan (Calif.) High School, with the 356th overall pick.

But both scouting director Tony DeMacio and general manager Frank Wren said it wasn’t as much a change in philosophy for the Braves as it was how this draft fell.

“The really good high school guys are gone, that we wanted,” DeMacio said. “We were on Stephenson right in front of us. We were really on him, and we thought we had him.”

He was referring to Robert Stephenson of Martinez Calif., the smooth throwing right-hander with the mid-90s fastball out of Alhambra High School. The Braves were primed to pick him in the first round, but the Reds nabbed him with the 27th pick, just before the Braves were announced as the next team on the clock.

The Braves chose FSU left-hander Sean Gilmartin instead, the next best option on their draft board and a college player.

Wren pointed out many of the high school players the Braves wanted went in the bevy of compensatory picks between the first and second rounds. Because of all the picks going to teams as compensation for losing free agents, the Braves’ second round pick didn’t come until 85th overall.

“Our second round really was a third round because there was a full round of compensation picks,” Wren said. “That made it difficult for us because of just the sheer numbers of players that fell off our board during that span.”

The Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays had 15 of the top 60 picks in the first and supplemental rounds Monday night.

“Almost (one-quarter) of the picks in the baseball draft went to two teams yesterday,” DeMacio said. “We’re not in that position.”

UConn shortstop

The perception might have been that the Braves, and most everybody else, were interested in UConn outfielder George Springer (Astros) and right-hander Matt Barnes (Red Sox) – both of whom went in the first round Monday night.

But DeMacio said when he “sneaked” up to Clemson last weekend to watch the Huskies play in the NCAA Regional, he had his eye on shortstop Nick Ahmed. The Braves drafted him 85th overall with their second round pick Tuesday.

The Braves like his speed, something they’ve been trying to add through the draft in recent years. His athleticism and his desire came through as well

“He’s a baseball type player, he’s a rat,” DeMacio said.

DeMacio wanted to see him earlier but Ahmed suffered a broken rib and collapsed lung on a collision on the basepaths.

“He’s a tough kid,” DeMacio said. “He was playing with a flack jacket the last three weeks of the season.”

The Braves farm system is well stocked at shortstop with the likes of Matt Lipka and Edward Salcedo, but DeMacio said a team can never have enough talent up the middle. He also said Ahmed could move to second base.

“We got an e-mail from the baseball coach at the University of San Diego saying it was a great pick because they went out there and played this year,” DeMacio said.


With their third round pick, the Braves picked up some power they were seeking in left-handed-hitting third baseman Kyle Kubitza of Texas State. Kubitza hit 10 home runs this season, including a two-run shot in the Austin Regional against the University of Texas.

“We’re going to give him every chance to play third base,” DeMacio said. “If not, we feel like he can move to the corner outfield. We feel like he’s got a plus arm. Another dirt player, one of those type of guys.”…

The Braves took their first power arm in right-hander J.R. Graham from Santa Clara University in the fourth round. The Braves had his fastball clocked at 98 mph. Apparently he can command it too. His 0.68 walks per nine innings ranked fourth in Division I. Graham struck out 45 and walked nine in 62 innings.

“He’s a conversion guy; he was a shortstop,” DeMacio said. “He’s in the second year of pitching, but he’s got a huge arm.”…

The Braves drafted catcher Troy Snitker out of North Georgia College in the 19th round Tuesday, son of Braves third base coach Brian Snitker. Snitker, a Brookwood graduate, hit .340 with six home runs and 44 RBIs in 54 games for North Georgia….

The Braves were hoping to draft Georgia Tech right-hander Mark Pope in the fifth round Tuesday, but missed out on him by three picks, according to DeMacio. The Padres took Pope with the 173rd overall pick; the Braves were hoping to get him at 175.

The same thing had happened in the third round when the Padres took right-hander Matt Andriese of Cal-Riverside, three picks ahead of where the Braves were poised to pick him.

22 comments Add your comment

Stan the Man

June 7th, 2011
6:18 pm

OK so we got some gems that we won’t see for at least the next 2 years. What is being done to fix the current crop of Braves? or is it generally agreed in-house that the team is exactly where it should be a this point in the year??


June 7th, 2011
6:19 pm

The Braves should be drafting hitters!

[...] Atlanta Braves [...]


June 7th, 2011
6:33 pm

Right!! The Braves needed some real good hitters. Why they want more and more pitchers is redundant. Are they going to corral every pitcher possible with the intent of trading them for hitters? They needed some top tier hitters and the SS they drafted is not an exceptional hitter at the level he is now. I think, even though they would deny it, it’s all about the money, or lack of it.


June 7th, 2011
6:33 pm

Willy, I agree that we should get some hitters. On the other hand, what do we do with our hitters in the minors that causes them not to hit? Could it be that we should hire some real “hitting instructors”?

Innocent Bystander

June 7th, 2011
6:34 pm

Wonder if the Padres tapped the Braves’ phone lines…

Conyers Braves Fan

June 7th, 2011
7:29 pm

DOB: As everyone knows, the DUI and racing charges against D. Lowe were droppeda week or more ago. Now the AJC and other media are showing
the video at the time of his arrest. Why? There is nothing new here and it unjustly causes unnecessary and negative attention upon Lowe.
I realize that many will holler “coverup” but the fact is the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence according to the D.A..


June 7th, 2011
7:39 pm

How can D. Lowe keep his license when refusing a breathalyzer is an automatic suspension?..His Attorney is Bubba Head-Surely you jest?


June 7th, 2011
7:44 pm

The Braves will be alright. The baseball draft isn’t like football or baseball where you see the guys playing in the pros the next year. We won’t see the benefits of these players for years, unless they are traded for a pro player. Teams are always looking for top notch pitching prospects. The Braves sure have their share of those…

If Dan Uggla & a few others could start hitting some this team would be in first place in the matter of a week. Help!!! We need a hitting coach!!!


June 7th, 2011
7:50 pm

Did they get anyone who can hit HRs? No.

But they drafted Brian Snitker’s son! Way to take the draft seriously, Braves!


jonathan Simeone

June 7th, 2011
7:56 pm

I don’t understand why a team with as much pitching in its system as any team has would use its first pick on a guy who projects as a low-end starter. To me this pick indicates that the Braves are not going to spend money on the draft.


June 7th, 2011
7:56 pm

It doesn’t sound like the Braves had a very good early draft. When the organization was stronger, as it was a few years back, they could concentrate on top high schoolers. With the farm system far below what it was, college players seem to be the focus. that tells me that help is needed far sooner than it was during in the productive years.


June 7th, 2011
7:58 pm

I’ll bet Snitker’s boy can hit better than Schuerholz.s boy did a few yers back.


June 7th, 2011
8:26 pm

another lousy draft it sounds like to me.. I just wonder how many of these guys we will actually see in a Braves uniform. I bet none of them.

Furman Bitcher

June 7th, 2011
8:48 pm

Another lousy draft??????? Braves have the number 3 rated system fools.


June 7th, 2011
9:18 pm

most of the HS pitchers the Braves have taken early in past years haven’t worked out. I don’t see taking a pitcher 28th when you need hitters and you know your next pick is 85th. there was no position player even close to Gilmartin , a guy who throws 88-91 ?
why were they trying to draft Pope, Stephenson and Andriese (all RHP) in the first place ?
2008 and 2010 drafts were probably much better, but we won’t know for a few years.
when you never pay above slot money as bonuses for draft picks , you can’t get HS guys who fall due to signability issues.
so most of the ones you can afford are gone early.

Mark (another one)

June 7th, 2011
10:00 pm

Shortstops can play just about any position. Having too many is not possible. Chipper was a SS, as was Kelly Johnson and several other position players the Braves have developed. The third guy, a college third baseman with power is also a good pick.

The one thing that keeps the Braves on top or near the top is the pitching depth in their farm system.


June 7th, 2011
11:49 pm

I think the Braves did a great job at getting what they wanted. They just picked a kid in Nick Ahmed who can hit and pitch. Nick I remember in Middle School always had a scrappy attitude around me a bit, but I knew his swagger would work to the Braves one day. He needs to do that with his OBP.

Lost Cause

June 8th, 2011
11:22 am

I believe the Braves did draft hitters. But hitters can be had in a trade for a couple of good pitchers:) But I will say, I don’t think I am a fan of the current free agent compensation picks. But I do like the fact if a team can’t sign a draft pick they get a compensation pick the next year.

Go BRaves – a win is a win is a win – no matter how ugg-lah-ee

old timer

June 8th, 2011
3:45 pm

We drafted a lefty starter in the first round who could contribute soon. We need a good lefty starter. I sometimes wonder, does Jonny Venters want to start? Mario Soto did pretty well with only two pitches. I know. I know. We have good pitching and we need hitting. But a couple starters will be gone in a year or two, and it has looked all year like we’ve got one opening in the starting rotation.

No Crying

June 8th, 2011
5:30 pm

Some body remind me, what draft position was Tommy Hansen. I am always amazed at the number of quality players that came from the late rounds of the draft. Since the beginning of the modern age of the Braves, (Starting when BC became GM) it would be interesting to see what round our stars came from. It seems that the can’t miss first round pick is a rarity at best


June 9th, 2011
2:45 am

The reason the Braves draft heavy on pitchers is because pitchers are more valuable than hitters. You can get more by trading pitchers than you can hitters.

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