In the 8th round of the 2002 draft, the Atlanta Braves selected Jon Schuerholz out of Auburn. Clearly, the Braves were interested in the middle infielder after taking him in the 37th round in 1999 out of high school. It’s not that Schuerholz had an amazing career with the Tigers, hitting .282/.409/.325 with a pair of homers and 41 steals in his college career. And yet, the Braves graded him an 8th round talent.
Wonder if his dad had anything to do with it.
Flash forward to the 2013 draft and again, in the 8th round, the Braves took a name that was awfully familiar to them. Out of Georgia Tech, the Braves picked outfielder Kyle Wren. In the Braves’ defense, Wren was a much better rated prospect coming out of college. After being a Reds 30th rounder the previous year, Wren improved his stock with a .360/.423/.457 campaign in 2013 with 28 steals. Overall, Wren hit .319 at Georgia Tech with an .820 OPS and 60 steals.
Of course, Braves fans naturally feared that nepotism was to blame for the pick, just as Schuerholz’s selection eleven years before. Schuerholz stayed in the system for six seasons, reaching Richmond in 2005 and playing with the R-Braves the following two seasons as well. He slashed .224/.319/.289 as a professional in 634 games, including a .515 OPS in 211 games at AAA. He would retire after 2007 and completed his degree at Auburn before beginning a managing career with the Braves in 2011. After a year in the Gulf Coast League and two with Danville, Schuerholz currently manages a very bad Rome baseball club.
|Credit: Baseball America|
Did the Braves make the same mistake in 2013? Did taking the GM’s son waste another 8th round pick? Well, after he was drafted, Wren made a lot of people forget about the comparison. After a brief five game run at Danville, Wren headed back to Georgia to play for Rome for 47 games where he slashed .328/.382/.456 with 32 steals in 38 attempts. He got into one game with Lynchburg by the end of the season, but it definitely looked like the early returns were sparkling.
His first full season in Lynchburg has been less noteworthy. While Wren has been trading the league stolen base lead back and forth with fellow Hillcat, Jose Peraza, Wren’s bat has been missing in action this season. He’s slashing .268/.336/.303 over 52 games with three doubles, two triples, and no homers. As the league, the Carolina League is slashing .251/.323/373 so he has been league average with the exception of power, which he was never known for. And overall, the left-hand hitting outfielder has helped with the best offense in the Northern Division which lacks much power.
Regardless of his deficiencies, Wren is what Schuerholz never was. A worthy draftable prospect. Both fast and with a quick first-step, Wren has the range and talent to play center field while being a grind-it-out type top of the lineup fixture. He will never hit for power and might never play in the majors, but he is a smart player who knows how to maximize his limited skills.
Of course, if he retires and becomes a coach or manager in the Braves system, we know what will happen when the next GM gets the job. At some point, in the 8th round, his son will get picked. So…he better have a son.