ATLANTA -- Looking back over the Braves’ Draft history, it’s apparent that their success throughout the 1990s and early 2000s was significantly influenced by the success they had with the early selections made during the years leading into this stretch.
At the same time, the struggles they had throughout most of the 1970s and '80s were influenced by the misses they had with their first selections.
Here’s a a look at every top Draft selection in club history, dating back to the first event in 1965. Only the Rule 4 Draft was considered from years in which multiple Drafts were held, highlighting the top overall pick, even if the Braves held multiple first-round selections that season.
2022: Owen Murphy, RHP, Riverside Brookfield (Ill.) High School (No. 20)
Murphy was one of the best athletes available, having served as his high school’s starting quarterback and shortstop. Prior to being drafted, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder was named Illinois' 2022 Gatorade Player of the Year after posting a 0.12 ERA with 137 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings on the mound, while also batting .548 with 18 homers during his senior season.
2021: Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest (No. 24)
Cusick recorded 108 strikeouts as he posted a 4.24 ERA over 70 innings as a junior in 2021. He struck out 35.3 percent of the batters he faced and had a 10.5 percent walk rate. His command was better than it was as a sophomore, when he had a 41.8 percent strikeout rate and a 17.4 percent walk rate over just 22 1/3 innings.
2020: Jared Shuster, RHP, Wake Forest (No. 25)
Shuster’s strong showing in the 2019 Cape Cod Summer League, combined with an impressive showing before the COVID-19 shutdown abruptly ended his senior year, gave the Braves confidence to pass on some higher-ranked hurlers. The lefty also became more attractive when he began shying away from his two-seamer and relying on a four-seamer that has been clocked in the upper 90s.
2019: Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor (No. 9)
Langeliers’ cannon arm will fuel his rise toward the Majors. But making him an even better prospect is the fact he has silenced those critics who questioned his offensive potential in the pro ranks.
2018: Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie (Fla.) High School (No. 8)
Stewart didn’t sign after a medical exam created concern about his right wrist. He spent one year at a junior college before signing a deal to pitch in Japan.
2017: Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt (No. 5)
It appeared to be a gift when Wright fell to the Braves with the fifth-overall pick. But Wright hasn’t lived up to his tremendous promise during his early years as a Major Leaguer.
2016: Ian Anderson, RHP, Shenendehowa (N.Y.) High School (No. 4)
Anderson has shown why the Braves began targeting him as the fourth-overall pick during the winter leading up to the 2016 MLB Draft. The young right-hander debuted in August 2020 and was a key reason why Atlanta reached the National League Championship series a little more than a month later.
2015: Kolby Allard, LHP, San Clemente (Calif.) HS (No. 14)
A back ailment caused Allard to slip to the 14th-overall selection. The highly-touted prep hurler has never lived up to his potential. But he was used to acquire reliever Chris Martin, who was a key bullpen piece as the Braves won the National League East in 2019 and 2020.
2014: Braxton Davidson, OF, TC Roberson (N.C.) HS (No. 32)
Instead of becoming the power threat the Braves envisioned, Davidson produced alarming strikeout rates during his years in the organization. He was released before the 2020 season.
2013: Jason Hursh, RHP, Oklahoma State (No. 31)
The Braves were unsuccessful with the reach they took on Hursh, who made just 11 big league appearances before retiring. The Yankees took Aaron Judge with the next pick in that 2013 Draft.
2012: Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood (Ga.) HS (No. 21)
Sims bounced around the Braves’ Minor League system before being sent to the Reds, who transformed him into an effective reliever. He was part of the trade that brought Adam Duvall to Atlanta during the 2018 season.
2011: Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Florida State (No. 28)
Gilmartin never showed much before the Braves traded him to the Twins for Ryan Doumit after the 2013 season. The lefty is now best known for being the husband of Kayleigh McEnany, who served as press secretary for the Trump administration.
2010: Matt Lipka, OF, McKinney (Texas) HS (No. 35)
Lipka’s athleticism was limited as he dealt with multiple leg injuries while playing in Atlanta’s system from 2010-16. He made it as far as Triple-A with the Braves, but never was considered a legit candidate for a big league promotion.
2009: Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt (No. 7)
Minor has enjoyed a long, prosperous career since debuting for Atlanta in 2010. He helped the 2013 Braves win the National League East and would have likely stayed with the club longer had he not developed a shoulder issue in '14.
2008: Brett DeVall, LHP, Niceville (Fla.) HS (No. 40)
Off-the-field issues sunk DeVall, who was out of organized baseball two years after being drafted.
2007: Jason Heyward, OF, Henry County (Ga.) HS (No. 14)
Heyward debuted for Atlanta in 2010 and won a pair of Gold Gloves before being dealt to the Cardinals before the 2015 season. His departure marked the start of the Braves’ massive rebuild.
2006: Cody Johnson, OF, A. Crawford Mosley (Fla.) HS (No. 24)
Johnson hit some monstrous home runs, but never got above the Double-A level for the Braves. His pro career ended after he briefly reached the Triple-A level for the Yankees in 2013.
2005: Joey Devine, RHP, NC State, (No. 27)
Devine debuted with Atlanta just two months after being drafted. But thoughts about him being a closer faded after he allowed Chris Burke’s walk-off homer in the 18th inning of the classic Astros-Braves battle in Game 4 of the 2005 NL Division Series. Injuries marred the career of the reliever, who ended up making just 93 career appearances.
2004: Eric Campbell, 3B, Gibson Southern (Ind.) HS, (No. 71)
Without a first-round pick, the Braves used their first selection on Campbell, who never made it above the Double-A level.
2003: Luis Atilano, RHP, Gabriela Mistral (P.R.) HS (No. 35)
Atilano was traded to the Nationals in exchange for Daryle Ward in 2006. His MLB career consisted of 16 starts for Washington in 2010.
2002: Jeff Francoeur, OF, Parkview (Ga.) HS (No. 23)
Francoeur became an instant fan favorite when he debuted in 2005 and helped the Braves win a 14th consecutive division title. He didn’t live up to tremendous expectations, but still put together a respectable 12-season career.
2001: Macay McBride, LHP, Screven County (Ga.) HS (No. 24)
McBride debuted with the Braves in 2005 and had some success as a reliever the following year. But the lefty was out of organized baseball by the end of the 2008 season.
2000: Adam Wainwright, RHP, Glynn Academy (Ga.) HS (No. 29)
Wainwright enjoyed success for nearly two decades for the Cardinals. The big right-hander will always be remembered by Braves fans as the guy traded for J.D. Drew.
1999: Matt Butler, RHP, Hattiesburg (Miss.) HS (No. 81)
Butler never advanced past the Class A Advanced level.
1998: Matt Belisle, RHP, McCallum (Texas) HS (No. 52)
Belisle was traded by the Braves to the Reds for Kent Mercker near the end of the 2003 season. The right-handed reliever played for six different organizations over 15 big league seasons.
1997: Troy Cameron, SS, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) HS (No. 29)
Cameron showed some power during his first couple pro years, but he never made it above the Class A Advanced level before the Braves included him in the deal that sent John Rocker to the Indians.
1996: A.J. Zapp, 1B, Center Grove (Ind.) HS (No. 27)
Zapp never made it to the Majors while playing 11 Minor League seasons for four different organizations -- the Braves, Mariners, Reds and Dodgers.
1995: Chad Hutchinson, RHP, Torrey Pines (Calif.) HS (No. 26)
Hutchinson didn’t sign with the Braves and instead attended Stanford, where he was a two-sport star. He made just three Major League appearances for the Cardinals, but spent time as a NFL quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.
1994: Jacob Shumate, RHP, Hartsville (S.C.) HS (No. 27)
Shumate never rose above the Double-A level over eight Minor League seasons.
1993: Andre King, OF, Stranahan (Fla.) HS (No. 66)
King played just a handful of games above the Class A Advanced level over five Minor League seasons
1992: Jamie Arnold, RHP, Osceola (Fla.) HS (No. 21)
Arnold spent seven seasons in the Braves’ farm system before briefly playing for the Dodgers and White Sox during the 1999 and 2000 seasons, respectively.
1991: Mike Kelly, OF, Arizona State (No. 2)
Kelly played six big league seasons, including two with the Braves. But he never lived up to the hype attached to being the second-overall pick.
1990: Chipper Jones, SS, The Bolles School (Fla.) HS (No. 1)
Jones and Ken Griffey Jr. are the only players who have been elected to the Hall of Fame after being taken with the first-overall selection.
1989: Tyler Houston, C, Valley (Nev.) HS (No. 2)
Houston played 700 games over eight big league seasons. But he played just 33 games for the Braves, who dealt the catcher to the Cubs midway through the 1996 season.
1988: Steve Avery, LHP, John F. Kennedy (Mich.) HS (No. 3)
Avery became a postseason star for Atlanta in 1991 and seemed destined for greatness before injuries began derailing his career near the end of a successful 1993 season.
1987: Derek Lilliquist, LHP, University of Georgia (No. 6)
Lilliquist made his debut for the Braves in 1989 and then was traded to the Padres the next year. He pitched for five clubs over eight Major League seasons
1986: Kent Mercker, LHP, Dublin (Ohio) HS (No. 5)
Mercker pitched a no-hitter and served as the starter in a combined no-hitter while with the Braves. He spent eight of his 18 big league seasons with Atlanta.
1985: Tommy Greene, RHP, Whiteville (N.C.) HS (No. 14)
After spending portions of the 1989 and ’90 seasons in Atlanta’s rotation, Greene was included in the package that sent Dale Murphy to the Phillies. He made 97 starts over eight big league seasons.
1984: Drew Denson, 1B, Purcell Marian (Ohio) HS (No. 19)
Denson debuted for the Braves in 1989, but his big league career consisted of just 16 games, including four with the White Sox.
1983: Marty Clary, RHP, Northwestern University (No. 74)
Clary spent three seasons with the Braves before seeing his big league career end after the 1990 season.
1982: Duane Ward, RHP, Farmington (NM) HS (No. 9)
Ward pitched just 10 games for the Braves before being traded to the Blue Jays for Doyle Alexander, who, of course, was sent to the Tigers for a young Minor Leaguer named John Smoltz in 1987.
1981: Jay Roberts, OF, Centralia (Wash.) HS (No. 12)
Roberts never advanced past the Class A level.
1980: Ken Dayley, LHP, University of Portland (No. 21)
Dayley debuted for the Braves in 1982. He spent portions of three seasons in Atlanta before being traded to the Cardinals, who used him as one of their key relievers for seven seasons.
1979: Brad Komminsk, OF, Shawnee (Ohio) HS (No. 4)
Komminsk arrived in Atlanta surrounded by a lot of hype, but his star quickly faded and he ended up playing just 376 games over eight big league seasons with six different organizations.
1978: Bob Horner, 3B, Arizona State (No. 1)
Horner went straight to the Majors after being drafted and averaged 29 homers per year through his first four full seasons. But injuries limited him the next two years and influenced the remainder of his 10-season big league career.
1977: Tim Cole, LHP, Saugerties (N.Y.) HS (No. 4)
Cole never made it to the Majors. In fact, he spent just one of his 10 seasons as high as the Triple-A level.
1976: Ken Smith, 3B, East (Ohio) HS (No. 3)
Smith debuted for the Braves in 1981 and ended up playing just 83 games over three big league seasons.
1975: Donald Young, C, Dos Pueblos (Calif.) HS (No. 18)
Young played just three Minor League seasons, never advancing past the Class A level.
1974: Dale Murphy, C, Woodrow Wilson (Ore.) HS (No.5)
One of the most iconic players in Braves history, Murphy won consecutive National League MVP Awards (1982 and ’83) and was one of the game’s top players during the 1980s.
1973: Pat Rockett, 2B, Robert E. Lee (Texas) HS (No. 10)
Rockett debuted in 1976, but played in parts of just three big league seasons -- all with the Braves.
1972: Preston Hanna, RHP, Escambia (Fla.) HS (No. 11)
Hanna debuted for the Braves in 1975 and spent portions of seven seasons as a member of Atlanta’s pitching staff. But he never lived up to his first-round promise.
1971: Taylor Duncan, SS, Grant Union (Calif.) HS (No. 10)
Duncan and Earl Williams were traded to the Orioles for Pat Dobson, Roric Harrison, Davey Johnson and Johnny Oates after the 1972 season. Duncan’s MLB career consisted of 112 games, 108 of which were played for the 1978 A’s.
1970: Ron Broaddus, RHP, Brazosport (Texas) HS (No. 21)
Broaddus played four Minor League seasons, none of which were spent above the Class A level.
1969: Gene Holbert, C, Palmyra (Pa.) HS (No. 12)
Holbert played just 20 games above the Class A level over four Minor League seasons.
1968: Curtis Moore, OF, Denison (Texas) HS (No. 7)
Moore never made it to the Majors and spent just 27 games above the Double-A level.
1967: Andy Finlay, OF, Luther Burbank (Calif.) HS (No. 12)
Finlay played five Minor League seasons, just two of which were spent as high as the Double-A level.
1966: Al Santorini, RHP, Union (N.J.) HS (No. 11)
Santorini debuted for the Braves in 1968, but was selected by the Padres in the expansion draft later that same year. He made 127 appearances over six MLB seasons.
1965: Dick Grant, 1B, Watertown (Mass.) HS (No. 12)
Grant spent seven seasons in the Braves’ system, but never advanced past the Double-A level.