Two years after beginning to pitch, Adam Shoemaker has been given the chance to extend his development within the Braves’ system.
Shoemaker was taken by the Braves in the 11th round of the 2021 MLB Draft on Tuesday. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound left-hander hails from Cambridge, Ontario. Baseball has long been a part of his life. But he never regularly stood on a mound until two years ago, when he realized it was his way to continue tasting success in the game.
“I was a tall lefty, and I started not being able to hit anymore,” Shoemaker told The Record, a Canadian newspaper. “They turned me into a pitcher. I thought it was a good idea. I like to dominate hitters, get outs and help my team get wins.”
Braves vice president of scouting Dana Brown is excited about Shoemaker’s upside.
“We had two of our veteran scouts that saw him pitch, and they had him as a guy who could become a fourth starter,” Brown said. “He's a big, tall, loose lefty who hasn't even gotten to his man strength yet. He's got some feel for the breaking ball. They love the body, and they think this is an upside pick.”
During the third and final day of this year’s Draft, the Braves made a number of interesting picks. They used their 13th-round pick to take Adam Zebrowski out of New York’s St. John Fisher College. Zebrowski hit .500 (74-for-148) with 20 homers. But he’d totaled just two homers over his two previous seasons at the Division III school, so he likely wouldn’t have been found without the trust the team placed in veteran area scout Brian Sankey.
The Braves also got some amateur scouting assistance from Drew Plant, the son of longtime Atlanta executive Mike Plant. The younger Plant lobbied the Braves to take Kennesaw State catcher Tyler Tolve because of his defensive versatility. Brown listened and opted to take Tolve in the 17th round.
But the most interesting pick with the greatest upside appears to be Shoemaker.
Shoemaker was throwing in the upper 80s and touching 90 mph before the pandemic shut things down last year. But the young hurler continued his weight training and throwing exercises at his home. His diligence paid off when he returned to action and was touching 95 mph.
A skilled athlete who also plays hockey and volleyball, Shoemaker was quickly regarded as one of Canada’s top prep pitchers. He is committed to St. John’s University, but the Braves are confident that under-slot deals agreed to with some of Monday’s picks will allow them to sign Shoemaker soon.
“What happens a lot is a lot of these high school guys are disappointed when they don't go in the first two rounds,” Brown said. “Then they realize they really want to play, and then their numbers come down. That makes them a little more signable. So it’s exciting to get this big lefty.”