Slugging college SS, local prep OF among Braves' Day 2 picks

July 10th, 2023

The Braves’ roster provides a glimpse of what kind of impact talent can be acquired beyond the first two rounds of the MLB Draft.

Reigning National League Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II was selected in the third round in 2019. Spencer Strider was taken in the fourth round in ‘20, and fellow All-Star Bryce Elder was picked in the fifth round the same year.

So while the Braves are excited about what they may have gained by drafting college pitchers Hurston Waldrep, Drue Hackenberg and Cade Kuehler during the first two rounds on Sunday, they are also anxious to see the development of some of the players they gained during Rounds 3-10 on Monday.

Round 3, 94th overall: Sabin Ceballos, SS, Oregon
It’s too early to know how Ceballos might fit defensively, but his power potential and recently improved plate discipline create excitement for his future. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Puerto Rico native hit .333 with 18 homers and a 1.069 OPS while helping Oregon win the Pac-12 Conference tournament championship this year. There have been questions about his glove, but he was awarded a Rawlings Gold Glove after showing improvement as a third baseman this year. The Braves’ decision to announce him as a shortstop indicates they believe the 20-year-old has room to grow defensively.

“He’s got tools,” Braves assistant director of scouting Ronit Shah said. “He’s got a good arm and can really pick it at third. He’s shown us a lot more power than we’ve seen in past years, and he’s controlling the zone, taking his walks and making a lot of contact. We thought that was a pretty strong package.”

Round 4, 126th overall: Garrett Baumann, RHP, Hagerty (Fla.) HS
Baumann commands attention when he steps on the mound with his 6-foot-8, 245-pound frame. The big right-hander’s heavy fastball sits around 93 mph, but it has touched 98 mph. He has shown a good feel for his changeup, but like many high school products, his slider has been inconsistent. The Braves will likely have to go over-slot to sign this high-upside pitcher, who committed to Central Florida. Baumann comes from the same high school that produced Vaughn Grissom and the Tigers’ Riley Greene.

Round 5, 162th overall: Isaiah Drake, OF, North Atlanta HS
Looking to extend the organization’s success with hometown talent, the Braves selected Drake, who has run the 60-yard dash in 6.15 seconds. The 17-year-old outfielder possesses plus speed and plus power from the left side. He committed to Georgia Tech, but this selection indicates the Braves believe he’ll choose the hometown pro team over the hometown college team. Drake is the brother of NFL running back Kenyan Drake.

“Drake has shown more power than we’ve seen in the past,” Shah said. “He went to the Combine and went to the Draft League. Clearly, he loves to play. We’re really excited about his power and speed combination.”

Round 6, 189th overall: Lucas Braun, RHP, Cal State Northridge
Braun had some success while primarily being used out of the bullpen during his first three collegiate seasons. He struck out 25.6 percent of the batters faced in 2022 and had a 25 percent strikeout rate this year.  But his ERA rose from 2.91 in 74 1/3 innings to 4.83 over 91 1/3 innings. Braun is the first college senior selected by the Braves in 2023. These selections are usually made to create a chance to give an over-slot bonus to another one of the players taken within the first 10 rounds.

Round 7, 219th overall: Justin Long, RHP, Rice
Long began his collegiate career as a catcher, then began pitching this year. The 21-year-old hurler posted a 4.93 ERA in 45 2/3 innings for the Owls, never pitching more than 4 2/3 innings in any appearance. He struck out 18.9 percent of the batters he faced but showed improvement during his first year on the mound.   

“He really came on as the year went on,” Shah said. “His velocity kept climbing and his breaking ball kept getting better. We’re excited to hopefully see him continue the trend line here.”

Round 8, 249th overall: Cory Wall, RHP, William & Mary
Wall is a fifth-year college senior who posted a 3.98 ERA over 52 innings for the Tribe this year. The 23-year-old hurler spent his first four collegiate years at Fordham. Wall struck out seven while working a season-high 5 2/3 innings against the College of Charleston in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament on May 25.

Round 9, 279th overall: Riley Gowens, RHP, Illinois
Gowens, a fifth-year senior, posted a 6.30 ERA while totaling 60 innings over 12 starts for the Illini this year. The 23-year-old has touched 96 mph with his fastball and shown an above-average breaking ball. The Braves have already gained value from Dylan Dodd, who was a fifth-year senior when he was drafted in 2021, so you never know what you might get from guys like Gowens, Wall and Braun.

Round 10, 309th overall: Pier-Olivier Boucher, OF, Southern Illinois
Boucher earned second-team All Missouri Valley Conference honors after hitting .331 with 16 homers and a 1.026 OPS for the Salukis this year. The 23-year-old outfielder was successful in 29 of 34 stolen-base attempts over the past two seasons. He was born and raised in Quebec, where he spent nine years playing hockey. He played baseball during his final two years of high school.