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Braves after top talent, not specific player, in Draft

Atlanta isn't zeroing in on any particular pitcher or slugger at No. 31

ATLANTA -- After spending most of Thursday discussing and evaluating their targets, Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio and a number of his top scouts escaped from the bowels of Turner Field to watch batting practice and interact with some of the Major Leaguers they have found for the organization.

As they watched the Braves roll toward Thursday night's convincing win over the Blue Jays, the scouts were staring at the fruits of their labor. Six members of Atlanta's starting lineup were homegrown products, and two others -- Justin Upton and Chris Johnson -- were acquired from the D-backs in exchange for five players the Braves had developed.


After 2009 first-round selection Mike Minor tossed seven strong innings, Alex Wood ended Thursday's game with a scoreless ninth inning in what was his Major League debut. One year earlier, Wood was completing his days at the University of Georgia without any clue that he was just a few days away from being drafted by the Braves in the second round.

"I think our guys have done a great job of recommending the right guys," said DeMacio, who has overseen each of Atlanta's past three Drafts.

The Braves lost their first-round selection in this year's First-Year Player Draft because they signed free agent B.J. Upton this past winter. But because they also lost Michael Bourn via free agency, they were compensated with what will be the 31st overall selection.

"We're going to go with who we believe is the best available," DeMacio said. "If it's a pitcher, we'll go with a pitcher. If it's a player, we'll go with a player."

The 2013 First-Year Player Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on and MLB Network on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.'s coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

With four of the first 133 selections in this year's Draft, DeMacio and his staff will be looking to find the best available talent within a pool that is not as deep as it has been the previous few years.

The Braves selected hard-throwing right-hander Lucas Sims from suburban Atlanta's Brookwood High School with their first-round selection last year. DeMacio's first selection in the 2011 Draft was Florida State University's Sean Gilmartin, a left-hander who is currently a part of Triple-A Gwinnett's starting rotation.

"The overall talent throughout the country is not as deep as it has been the last couple of years," DeMacio said. "But you still have to pick them, and somebody has to play in the big leagues."

In about 50 words
With an abundance of impressive young pitchers already in Atlanta and others existing within their farm system, the Braves could attempt to strengthen their farm system with offensive players. Looking toward the future, some positions that could draw interest include second base, third base and each of the outfield spots.

The scoop
"You've just got to keep taking the best guys you can for the organization. You don't worry about needs. You just keep taking them and hope there is enough to fill the needs for the Major League club." -- DeMacio

First-round buzz
In his first Mock Draft,'s Jonathan Mayo predicted the Braves would take Travis Demeritte, a third baseman out of Georgia's Winder Barrow High School, with their first selection. In his second Mock Draft, Mayo believed that this pick will be used to take Tim Anderson, a shortstop from Mississippi's East Central Community College.

Money matters
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

The Braves' allotted bonus pool will total slightly more than $4.52 million. The approximate average of the bonuses given to the first 10 players they select will equate to approximately $452,000. The suggested bonus figure for the 31st overall selection is $1,704,200.

Shopping list
While Johnson will make his bid as he now serves as Atlanta's everyday third baseman, there is not a clear-cut third baseman of the future within the organization. Joey Terdoslavich was moved to the outfield last year, and Edward Salcedo's defensive shortcomings at third base might also move him to the outfield. The need to find catchers has been minimized as Evan Gattis has found immediate success in the Majors and Christian Bethancourt has shown signs of life with his bat.

Trend watch
DeMacio has essentially gone with what the Draft has provided him over the past three years. He resurrected the organization's tradition of taking top local talent by taking Sims and Wood with last year's first two selections. He took college players with each of his first 10 selections in 2011 and with seven of his first 10 selections last year.

Recent Draft History

Rising fast
The Braves are very appreciative of the determination veteran scout Brian Bridges showed as he fought for Wood to be selected in last year's second round. The left-hander with an unorthodox delivery made a solid first impression during Spring Training and got the quick call to the Majors last week to strengthen Atlanta's injury-depleted bullpen. He might be a starting pitcher in the future. But he has already shown the capability of being a solid late-inning option for Atlanta.

Cinderella story
There is no story better than Gattis, who spent four years away from baseball before veteran scout Gerald Turner convinced the Braves to take him in the 23rd round of the 2010 Draft. Gattis' tremendous power and flair for the dramatic have enabled him to become one of the top early National League Rookie of the Year candidates. He will likely serve as Atlanta's starting catcher by the start of the 2014 season.

In The Show
The last remaining member of the Baby Braves, Brian McCann was taken in the second round of the 2002 Draft. With two of their top four selections in 2007, the Braves selected Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. One year later, they used their third-round selection on their dominant closer Craig Kimbrel. With its earliest selection since '91, Atlanta used the seventh overall selection in the '09 Draft on Minor, who arrived at the big league level one year later. Simmons, Gattis and Wood have all made their way to the Majors after being drafted within the past three years

Braves' recent top picks

2012: Lucas Sims, RHP, Class A Rome
2011: Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Triple-A Gwinnett
2010: Matt Lipka, SS, High-A Lynchburg
2009: Mike Minor, LHP, Atlanta Braves
2008: Brett DeVall, LHP, N/A

Mark Bowman is a reporter for

Atlanta Braves