The Braves’ No. 1 pick: A Minor addition or a major reach?

Nobody would ever suggest the Braves don’t know what they’re doing — on second thought, that’s pretty much all anybody ever suggests on the ol’ blog — but taking Mike Minor with the seventh pick in Round 1 seemed, shall we say, unusual.

He’s a college pitcher. The Braves tend to prefer high school pitchers. (Fewer innings in the arm.) And it’s not as if Minor was considered the class of this college class. Indeed, Baseball America had him ranked a “second-round talent” and the 10th-best lefthander available in its pre-draft issue.

Baseball America’s capsule: “Minor could be the third lefthander drafted out of Vanderbilt in the past six years, and he’s more Jeremy Sowers [who's 13-22 with the Cleveland Indians] than David Price [the Tampa Bay phenom]. Like Sowers, Minor has more pitchability than stuff, with a fastball in the 86-89 mph range and a plus changeup that grades as his best pitch. His other strongest attribute could be his pickoff move … Minor’s success could depend on his breaking stuff … Minor will be all over draft boards in June and could go anywhere from the first half of the first round to the back half of the second.”

Here was Jim Callis, the Baseball America writer who tabbed Minor as the Braves’ No. 1 pick in his mock draft: “[He] doesn’t have as high an upside as some others.

From John Manuel of Baseball America (link requires registration): “It’s an out-of-character pick for Atlanta in many ways, but the Braves believe in Minor, the 2008 Summer College Player of the Year. The Braves like the fact that Minor improved down the stretch when he took over the duties of calling his own pitches, and his cerebral approach should help him move quickly. Scouts who doubt Minor believe his stuff has flattened out the last year or so and believe he’s a fourth starter at best, with only plus pitchability and no true out pitch.”

Keith Law of ESPN.com’s Scouts Inc. had Minor rated the draft’s 38th-best prospect. (Requires registration.) And let’s note that he went No. 7, which was the highest pick the Braves have had since 1991, when they took the center fielder Mike Kelly at No. 2.

The Braves' selection of Mike Minor was:

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And here, as reported by esteemed colleague Carroll Rogers, was scouting director Roy Clark’s rationale for taking Minor: “He was the ace of the USA Baseball national team last year that had a number of pretty good pitchers, including Mr. [Stephen] Strasburg [the No. 1 overall pick]. This guy is a winner. I was hoping we’d have an opportunity to select him. Now, I’m hoping we have an opportunity to sign him.”

A stipulation: The Braves do a nice job scouting and developing talent. Their track record tells us so. Another stipulation: Zack Wheeler of East Paulding, considered the apple of the Braves’ eye, was taken sixth overall by San Francisco. That said, Minor was still an odd choice.

John Schuerholz arrived from Kansas City in October 1990. In the 19 drafts since, only twice have the Braves made a collegian their first selection. The aforementioned Kelly, of Arizona State, was one. Joey Devine, the reliever who exited North Carolina State in 2005, was the other, and the Braves made a hash of his development. Not the most heartening precedents, would you say?

127 comments Add your comment

SC Ace

June 10th, 2009
10:27 am

The baseball draft is something of a crapshoot anyway, so who knows? I’ll leave it to people who have more knowledge, time, and interest in the draft.

What do people say about that kid from Princeton in the 3rd round?

Sam Everyman, Citizen Journalist

June 10th, 2009
10:28 am

“Scouts who doubt Minor believe his stuff has flattened out the last year or so and believe he’s a fourth starter at best, with only plus pitchability and no true out pitch.”

Just what we talked about yesterday. Will Roger teach Minor a devastating sinker?

Will the career be over before he gets to Roger? Or will Roger be gone before Minor gets to the bigs?

Sam Everyman, Citizen Journalist

June 10th, 2009
10:34 am

Better chance . . . Minor and a few more promising young arms will be sent to Texas for an aging Saltalamacchia.

Mark Bradley

June 10th, 2009
10:37 am

Baseball America rated David Hale of Princeton the 28th-best righthander in the draft. He pitched and played center field at Princeton, and Baseball America says: “Many scouts believe he could take off once he starts concentrating on pitching full-time.” Has command issues. (But hey, so do I.) Topped out at 97 mph on the fastball.

Herschel Talker

June 10th, 2009
10:39 am

Another feather in the cap of Frank Wreck!

Phillip

June 10th, 2009
10:45 am

Braves should have taken the “Matzulek” kid that went 12th overall to the Colorado Rockies – he was a lefty who has electric stuff with 97-98mph fastball – supposedly the only reason he fell this low was because he wanted a big signing bonus. Braves should have paid it! This Minor kid sounds very ordinary and not worthy of a “top 10″ pick.

jb

June 10th, 2009
10:48 am

Given all the talent available with the #7 pick, and the braves took this guy? A 6-6 record and an ERA up at almost 4.00??? He was not even the best pitcher on vandy’s staff? We take 2nd round material at best, and get this guy in the top 10. It’s like taking a buick regal over a bmw!! Does anyone else wonder why this organization is just average at its best these days, and you could argue that average is a bit to kind!! We can’t sign top free agents here anymore, we run hall of famers off in the worst way, get made to look like fools by previous players { furcal debacle} and have perhaps the worst offensive team in all of mlb to witness on every given night? No suprise to me that we blew the 7th overall pick in this draft, i mean the braves are not exactly causing anyone to look back and worry about them! Minor will be a career minor league pitcher and will never see AAA ball!! Terrible pick

Mark Bradley

June 10th, 2009
10:54 am

The Braves saw something in Minor. Let’s hope the thing they saw wasn’t just signability.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

June 10th, 2009
11:00 am

I second the wish for Matzulek but I will leave it to Roy Clark. He is one of the best in the business and plays a mean banjo.

Hoosier Aaron

June 10th, 2009
11:01 am

I’ve read reports that call Minor, “The most polished lefty in the draft.”

I’ll bet after Roy Clark got finised pickin’ he was grinnin’.

PMC

June 10th, 2009
11:03 am

They certainly need to find some talent at third base to draft soon as Chipper is getting long in the tooth.

Mark Bradley

June 10th, 2009
11:05 am

Yesterday, when Roy Clark was young …

JT

June 10th, 2009
11:05 am

What was the terminolgy used to describe Maddox and Glavine when they were drafted? Just curious.

Mark Bradley

June 10th, 2009
11:07 am

Scouting dossier on Smoltz: “Throws hard; likes golf; hates Mark Bradley.”

Scouting dossier on Glavine: “Throws soft; likes golf; used to like Mark Bradley.”

Wren Hater

June 10th, 2009
11:08 am

Major Reach !

Thanks, Mark.

The Orioles got rid of the WRETCHED WREN after only one (1) season.

What is taking our beloved Braves so long to come to the same realization about this bumbler?

mudcat

June 10th, 2009
11:08 am

With all the pre-draft hype about this draft being pitching-rich, I was surprised with the Minor pick. But I have faith in Roy Clark and our scouting staff. It sounds as if he could go through our minor league system relatively quickly and he could be helping the Big Boys in a couple of years-that’s good! Trade bait potential?

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

June 10th, 2009
11:10 am

Minor sounds like braves pick about 20 years ago. Lefty with 88-90 mph fastball with command of his changeup which is his #2 pitch. Hope this guy turns out as good.

Navigator

June 10th, 2009
11:13 am

This pick has Cox’s finger prints all over it. Remember, he likes players that he’s comfortable with and this guy sounds like a young Tommy Glavine. Decent fast ball, nibbles the corners, but the problem is that Mazzone developed Tommy Glavine and he’s no longer with the Braves, or is he???

dap01

June 10th, 2009
11:14 am

Seems like a real low ceiling for a #7 pick.

Jonathan

June 10th, 2009
11:15 am

This was not a good pick but all accounts. Of course Clark will say “he was the guy we wanted”

The fact of the matter is they had to find a guy who would sign for cheap because all of the more talented players were more expensive.

Mike Minor was not the 7th best talent in the draft, according to every source out there.

We FINALLY have a chance to pick in the top 10, and we get a guy we could get in the 30-40 range every other year.

Scorby Jones

June 10th, 2009
11:18 am

It sounds to me like we got an intelligent pitcher with a worse reputation than he deserves. Hopefully, it turns out to be a steal of a pick. However, if he isn’t more than two years away from the majors…. what do we need him for???

Maybe the Braves are buying low on him (and their second pick) to let them develop and prove theirselves in the minors, before we trade them for some big league position players??

Missing Leo

June 10th, 2009
11:21 am

RE: “The Braves like the fact that Minor improved down the stretch when he took over the duties of calling his own pitches….”

DUH! When you have an incompetent pitching coach like Roger McDowell overseeing your big-league “development,” you better be able to think for yourself.

————

What kind of bridge did Leo Mazzone have to burn with the Braves to STILL be out of work that the local baseball team would rather keeping re-hiring McDowell instead of him?????

Missing Leo

June 10th, 2009
11:21 am

RE: “The Braves like the fact that Minor improved down the stretch when he took over the duties of calling his own pitches….”

DUH! When you have an incompetent pitching coach like Roger McDowell overseeing your big-league “development,” you better be able to think for yourself.

————

What kind of bridge did Leo Mazzone have to burn with the Braves to STILL be out of work that the local baseball team would rather keeping re-hiring McDowell instead of him?????

jarvis

June 10th, 2009
11:27 am

Mark – any info on corner outfield talent in the farm system? What we have in Atlanta is not good. Unless there was nothing available or there is someone waiting in the wings I don’t know about, why wouldn’t we have drafted some outfield power?

Chipper Jonestown Massacre

June 10th, 2009
11:31 am

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger wrote: “Minor sounds like braves pick about 20 years ago. Lefty with 88-90 mph fastball with command of his changeup which is his #2 pitch.”

I agree, this guy sounds just like Derek Lilliquist…

jarvis

June 10th, 2009
11:33 am

I loved the Lilliquist pick at the time. I figured he and Jerry Willard would be battery mates for years.

Bamafan

June 10th, 2009
11:33 am

I live in Nashville and never heard of the Minor kid till yesterday. His college coach at Vandy is a great baseball coach and recruits like Nick Saban. Leave it to the scouts and front office people to
pick the best baseball players in the draft.!!

Mark Bradley

June 10th, 2009
11:40 am

I believe Jason Heyward is a corner outfielder, Jarvis.

And with that, Elizabeth and I are going to lunch. Anybody want anything from Chick-fil-A?

Rick

June 10th, 2009
11:44 am

I hate the “high ceiling” crap, remember Van Poppel and Brien Taylor. They both had unbelievable potential and how about David West who was as hot a prospect as there was, did either of them ever turn out to be much? High ceiling or low ceiling the fact of the matter is that you never know how a kid will develop. Being a Braves fan one thing that has been proven is that you don’t need a 98mph fastball to be successful in the big leagues so I will trust Roy Clark’s judgement and hope for the best.

Icepack

June 10th, 2009
11:44 am

Buck Balue sized minor up succinctly yesterday, positive feedback. I am OK with it. Enjoy the Chick-fil-A.

Chipper Jonestown Massacre

June 10th, 2009
11:46 am

I’d love me some o’ them chicken nuggets… (Honey Mustard sauce, please)

Thanks,

NC Braves Fan

June 10th, 2009
11:48 am

Mark – what exactly is “pitchability?” I’d like to drop that word in casual conversation in order to try and impress my few remaining friends. Can you help a brother out? :lol:

singndablues

June 10th, 2009
11:49 am

Even with all the minor league talent traded away the Braves still have one of the top rated farm systems. Somebody obviously knows what they are doing so I wouldn’t be so quick to judge. Lot’s of kids with amazing tools and potential have been picked in the draft and never seen the light of day on a major league field.

Michael Scharff

June 10th, 2009
11:59 am

Mark, what in the heck is “pitchability”?

NC Braves Fan

June 10th, 2009
12:04 pm

Maybe it’s just the combination of pitch + ability. Kind of like the baseball scouts’ answer to the combination of peanut butter & jelly you find in Goober Grape. http://www.taquitos.net/snacks.php?food=3

BoiseBravesFan

June 10th, 2009
12:05 pm

I commute back and forth from Nashville to Boise and have seen MMinor pitch 3 or 4 times over the last three years. Make no mistake about it the MLB draft is the biggest crapshoot around as said above but this guy is international and SEC hardened and would not surprise me to be in the show in two or three years; somewhere. These 97mph whiz kids for the most part have trouble “pitching” if you will. Minotr already has that aspect under control.

Hoosier Aaron

June 10th, 2009
12:07 pm

Just for the heck of it, I took a look at a few of the numerous, numerous mock drafts available.

I stopped after looking at the first 8 that popped up….
Funny thing is – all 8 had our boy listed in the first round.
One going to the Reds at #8, #10 to the Nats, the lowest was #24 to the Halos.

While Roy Clark forgot more about evaluating talent in his sleep last night than any of these “mock drafters” will ever know – it appears that our boy might have earned a little respect within the baseball world.

joe

June 10th, 2009
12:08 pm

Strasburg will need TJ surgery in a few years. It ain’t natural to throw that hard with that big a breaking ball. The Nats will pay 20 mill to sign him, for what? This has Mark Prior written all over it. Minor probably is a minor talent (pun intended), but hey, if he can stay healthy and become a good 5th starter…why not?

Sam

June 10th, 2009
12:13 pm

Chick-Fil-A is a great metaphor for Minor. Quality picks are made based on scouting (experience), potential (how strong is your stomach), and signability (price). Based on that, and our amazing Mr. Bradley, I like both selections (CFA and Mr. Minor).

Only problem is: who is going to replace Chipper one day? Were there any top prospects in the draft that played 3rd?

carl

June 10th, 2009
12:17 pm

He”ll be the steal of the draft to ONLY be traded away in a “STINKER” of o deal!!!

Slee

June 10th, 2009
12:19 pm

It looks like to me like they picked him due to signability and the fact that he will be able to contribute in the show fairly quickly.

Money

June 10th, 2009
12:19 pm

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/david_sabino/06/09/draft.rankings2/index.html

Draft rankings don’t really mean much to me…just look at this list…Jake Peavy went in the 15th round in 1999…but on the flip side, Chipper went #1 overall in 1990, and look how that turned out…draft rankings are just a big crap shoot…

Gil In Mechanicsville

June 10th, 2009
12:22 pm

Sam… and others… The Braves’ best success has been in their signings of Latin players. No one drafts third baseman, they draft shortstops who grow big and strong and slow…

Daniel

June 10th, 2009
12:28 pm

I can’t believe anyone has a strong opinion on the baseball draft. The Braves have an extensive history of drafting and developing talent. Some of you people are real idiots.

joe

June 10th, 2009
12:29 pm

http://www.talkingchop.com/2009/6/9/904151/braves-take-vanderbuilt-left

Here is a nice highlight reel of Minor. Not flashy, but pitches in and out, up and down, with what looks like an awesome changeup.

TO NC BRAVES FAN

June 10th, 2009
12:32 pm

I think it’s like drinkability – just draw a picture of a perfect pitch with your finger in the air… Don’t forget to credit Anheuser Busch!

Alan

June 10th, 2009
12:33 pm

As far as adressing 3rd base, I would like to see Yunel eventually move to 3rd and we can develop a SS. I am not sold on the idea of “Yunel”, as I think he loses concentration very easily, thus making silly mistakes and making himself look bad. Hopefully he can straighten that out. Too bad we don’t have Elvis anymore….

Everytime I think about that trade with Texas, I think we made a bad move. GO BRAVES!

Green Tea

June 10th, 2009
12:33 pm

TO NC BRAVES FAN

June 10th, 2009
12:35 pm

I wonder what Mark Bradley would draw? I think he likes smokeability from the look of some of his columns. ; ) Kiddin!

joe

June 10th, 2009
12:35 pm

What exactly have Elvis and Salty done at the ML level? Escobar and Elvis don’t hit on the same planet. Salty is another power potential, low average guy we don’t need any more of.