Breaking down the Braves' Day 2 Draft picks

July 13th, 2021

As the 2021 MLB Draft continues, the Braves will attempt to find the value they gained from taking Tom Glavine, Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann, Craig Kimbrel, David Justice after the first round.

Glavine, Freeman and McCann were all taken in the second round. Kimbrel was a third-round selection and Justice was taken in the fourth round. At some point, Freeman and Kimbrel will likely find themselves enshrined with these other three players in the Braves’ Hall of Fame.

After picking right-handed pitcher Ryan Cusick on Day 1, the Braves continue to replenish their pipeline with gems on Day 2 in Rounds 2-10.

Here is a breakdown of these selections:

Round 2, 59th overall: Spencer Schwellenbach, RHP, Nebraska

Notable Skill: Some teams liked Schwellenbach as a shortstop with great offensive potential, while others believed he’ll be best used as a pitcher at the pro ranks. A right elbow injury suffered in high school prevented the 21-year-old from pitching during his freshman and sophomore years at Nebraska. But after getting back on the mound this season, he thrived as a closer who would trot to the mound from his shortstop position during the late innings. His fastball sits around 94-97 mph, and he made a good impression with both his slider and changeup. The three-pitch increases the possibility he could find success in a starting role.

Fun Fact: Schwellenbach was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and won the John Olerud Award, which is annually given to college baseball’s best two-way player. He majored in supply chain management at Nebraska.

Quotable: "I love to get college shortstops that end up on the mound because of their athleticism, their arm strength for the position, their body control. This is probably one of my favorite picks of my career." -- Braves vice president of scouting Dana Brown

Round 3, 96th overall: Dylan Dodd, LHP, Southeast Missouri State

Notable Skill: Dodd has come a long way since he exited high school with an 86 mph fastball. After helping Kankakee (Ill.) Community College in the 2018 NJCAA World Series, he transferred to Southeast Missouri State and was granted an extra year of eligibility after last year’s COVID-19 shutdown. The 23-year-old left-hander posted a 3.17 ERA and recorded 120 strikeouts over 96 2/3 innings. His fastball has touched 95 mph, but his top pitch is his changeup.

Fun Fact: Dodd was named the 2021 Ohio Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year. He strengthened his stock on Feb. 25, when he recorded 10 strikeouts and limited a power-packed Arkansas lineup to just three hits and two runs over six innings. Brown said Dodd reminded him of Tigers pitcher Matt Boyd during Boyd’s collegiate days at Oregon State. Brown was running the Blue Jays’ Draft when Toronto took Boyd in the sixth round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

Quotable: “I’m a graduated senior, so my next move has to be into professional baseball," Dodd said to the Commercial-News of Danville, Ill. "A lot of teams have already talked to me about what I would accept as a signing bonus. They want to sign me for under the slot value so that they can offer some big-time high school kid more.’’

Round 4, 126th overall: Cal Conley, SS, Texas Tech

Notable Skill: Conley was a heralded recruit who began his collegiate career at Miami and then transferred to Texas Tech after just one semester. He was limited to 15 games in 2020, but he showed his offensive potential by hitting .329 with 15 homers and a .980 OPS for the Red Raiders this year. Some scouts have questioned how much power the 5-foot-10, 185-pound infielder will generate with a wood bat. But Conley showed power potential with an upper-deck shot he hit at Houston’s Minute Maid Park this year. He’s a talented shortstop, but his arm strength might lead to a move to second base.

Fun Fact: Cal’s father Brian Conley played professionally for the Reds and Cubs. The elder Conley was the second baseman for the 1999 Rockford Reds, a Class A affiliate that featured Adam Dunn, Austin Kerns and Dewayne Wise in the outfield.

Round 5, 157th overall: Luke Waddell, SS, Georgia Tech

Notable Skill: Waddell is a versatile infielder who has shown some offensive potential. But his leadership and cooperative skills might be what set him apart from many other players. The 22-year-old infielder hit .309 with eight homers and a .876 OPS over 277 plate appearances for the Yellow Jackets this year.

Fun Fact: Waddell graduated with a 3.9 GPA in business administration.

Quotable: “Everything that you would want out of somebody, he just lives it every day.” -- Georgia Tech head baseball coach Danny Hall on Waddell

Round 6, 187th overall: Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B, Georgia Tech

Notable Skill: Malloy’s offensive potential reappeared as he hit .308 with 11 homers and a .994 OPS for Georgia Tech this year. He experienced some trouble at third base, but he proved he has both the range and the arm necessary to play both corner infield spots. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound infielder began his career at Vanderbilt, but he transferred after hitting .167 with a .696 OPS in 39 appearances during the shortened 2020 season. The Commodores primarily used him as a first baseman.

Fun Fact: Malloy was named USA Baseball’s Organizational Player of the Year after helping Team USA win a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games.

Quotable: "We think Malloy can play the infield and the outfield potentially as well. He walks a lot and he definitely has some power. I think we get him in a professional environment and he’s got a chance to take off.” -- Brown

Round 7, 217th overall: AJ Smith-Shawver, RHP, Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High School

Notable Skill: Smith-Shawver established himself as one of Texas’ best high school quarterbacks, then continued to excel as both a pitcher and a third baseman during the baseball season. He didn’t begin pitching regularly until last summer, but he immediately impressed scouts and maintained their interest this spring when his fastball touched 96 mph. Some of the under-slot bonuses that could be given to Dodd, Waddell and Conley could be used to sign Smith-Shawver, who committed to Texas Tech.

Fun Fact: Texas Tech’s football staff invited Shawver to be a two-sport star. The 6-foot-3 athlete averaged 290.3 yards passing per game last year.

Quotable: “He’s the best-kept secret in the state. I’ve coached a lot of very good [athletes] and he can play with anybody in the country.” -- Colleyville Heritage head football coach Kirk Martin

Round 8, 247th overall: Tyler Collins, OF, McKinney (Texas) Boyd High School

Notable Skill: Collins possesses elite speed and has shown the ability to continue developing both his hit and power tools. Veteran Braves scout Joe Jordan compared the 5-foot-11, 180-pound outfielder to Kenny Lofton.

Fun fact: The Braves will have to go over the slot value to sign Collins, who has been committed to play baseball at Oklahoma State for more than two years. The under-slot deals that are expected to be given to Dodd, Waddell, Conley and possibly Malloy will position the Braves to sign both Collins and Smith-Schawver.

Quotable: "This guy is a left-handed hitter who is an exciting player with really good foot speed. We think he’s going to go to center, be an elite defender and a leadoff-type hitter.” -- Brown

Round 9, 277th overall: Liam McGill, C, Bryant University

Notable Skill: McGill began his collegiate career at Columbia University and then transferred to Bryant, where he batted .471 with nine homers and a 1.287 OPS this year. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound catcher was named the Northeast Conference’s Player of the Year after leading all NCAA Division I players in batting average and on-base percentage.

Fun Fact: Liam’s older brother, Shawn, was a catcher in the Braves’ system from 2010-13.

Round 10, 307th overall: Dylan Spain, RHP, Hawaii-Hilo

Notable skill: Spain hasn’t pitched collegiately since 2019. But the Braves loved what they saw when an area scout brought the relatively unknown right-hander to California for a workout. Spain impressed Atlanta's scouts with a fastball that touched 97 mph and a hard slider.

Fun Fact: According to Hawaii-Hilo’s website, Spain aspires to be a firefighter.

Quotable: “It kind of blew us away, and we thought that [he] was definitely a talent. He’s a guy who's very talented, and he was also a budget saver, which allowed us to sign some of the young high school guys. So, we felt like we were getting good value in the 10th round.” -- Brown