A little while back, I began the Top 5 and Worst 5 drafts for the Braves since 2000 with the fifth worst. However, I don’t want to focus entirely on the bad because that would be both sad and really sad. With that in mind, today we go with the fifth best. Of course, the fourth worst draft is sitting waiting to be written after this one. I’ll get to you eventually, Year to Be Announced.
Honorable Mentions go to the 2003 and 2005 drafts
5th Best Draft Since 2000…The 2010 Draft
|Credit: Keith Allison via Flickr (Original)|
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A year after selecting a plethora of college-aged selections (20 of the first 22), the Braves attempted to strike a balance between an over-abundance of college and prep athletes. However, it was actually the college players they selected that made this draft what it was.
Unlike the previous season, the Braves didn’t have a top pick in the first round. In fact, they had surrendered their first round selection in order to sign Billy Wagner from the Red Sox. However, they got back into the first round when the Orioles lost their mind and signed Mike Gonzalez to a big deal. Gonzo would pitch just 78 times for the Orioles over two years, but they still surrendered their second round pick (their first was protected) to sign a player who saved just two games for them and served up eight homeruns.
The compensation for Gonzalez meant they would select four times in the first 101 picks with #35, #53, #70, and #101. In 2009, they only drafted twice in the first 101 picks so Atlanta was looking forward to getting more talent even if they didn’t have a marquee selection like they did the previous year. In another sign that the Braves were trying to straddle the edge between what they had done so often over the years with the safe & conservative new approach, Atlanta selected Matt Lipka with the #35 overall pick. An infielder out of McKinney High School in Texas, Lipka was an all-state wide receiver with gamebreaker speed. On the baseball diamond, he was a big athlete with a lot of toolsy potential. He was a callback to the days of drafting George Lombard and Andre King over more polished hitters.
With Lipka in the fold, the Braves went back to their college ways over the next seven picks. Highlights included Todd Cunningham, drafted 18 picks after Lipka, along with UVA’s Phil Gosselin and Long Beach State Dirtbag Joey Terdoslavich. While they developed into AAAA/bench fodder, the Braves third pick and #70th overall became the class of the draft for Atlanta – shortstop Andrelton Simmons out of Western Oklahoma State College. The first round of 2010 included Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Matt Harvey, and Chris Sale in the first 13 picks, but there is a good argument that Simmons is the top non-first round pick from the draft. While a superb shortstop, it was his high heat on the mound that intrigued teams. However, Simmons wanted to stay in the field, which dropped him on many team’s boards as his signability was a concern. Not for Atlanta, though. They told the young man to go play shortstop and prosper.
The Braves had big hopes for David Filak, a righty out of SUNY Oneonta. Keith Law gave Filak a second-round grade, but injury concerns chased off some teams from taking him higher. Atlanta spent their fourth rounder on him, hoping for gold. Other notable selections were 11th rounder Chasen Shreve along with Grants Pass, Oregon shortstop Brandon Drury, selected in the 13th round with the 404th pick. Ten rounds later, when the #704th pick was on the clock, Atlanta selected Texas-Permian Basin catcher and former Dallas-area janitor Evan Gattis.
It would be Gattis and Simmons who would play a big role in the Braves’ chase for the 2013 NL East Title. Terdoslavich also received nearly a hundred plate appearances for that squad, but it was Gattis and Simmons who were prime players for the squad. Atlanta even moved Gattis to left field to try to get his bat in the lineup more. Meanwhile, Simmons was in the midst of maybe the most impressive defensive year in the history of baseball.
Where this draft falls short is in depth. While Simmons developed into a superstar (with his glove at least) and Gattis has popped 74 homeruns, the draft lacks an impact player beyond the duo. Gosselin is a fine bench player while Shreve is a competent left-hand reliever, but the only hope this draft has of producing another 2-to-4 win player comes in the form of Drury. Dealt in the Justin Upton trade, Drury made his major league debut last year and has been excellent this year for the Snakes in Arizona. It is very early, but if this draft is to look better than it already does, it rests on his shoulders.
Of the 51 players drafted in 2010, only two remain and both play outfield for Mississippi. Lipka, the first player selected, and 9th rounder David Rohm are still trying to realize their dream of being a major league player. Well, there is a third, but who knows if the Braves will ever give Richie Tate a second second chance after testing positive for PED for the second consecutive season?