Braves may focus on quality bats in Draft

June 9th, 2017

ATLANTA -- As the Braves progress through their rebuilding process, they once again have a chance to further enrich their now-fertile farm system through the MLB Draft, which within the past two years has netted them six of their top 15 prospects, per's rankings.

The 2017 Draft will take place from Monday, June 12, through Wednesday, June 14, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and at 6 p.m on the 12th. MLB Network will broadcast the first 36 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while will stream all 75 picks on Day 1. will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, starting at 1 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on on June 14, beginning at noon ET.

Go to to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.

Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Braves, whose first selection is the fifth overall pick.

In about 50 words

:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::

As general manager John Coppolella and scouting director Brian Bridges have handled the past two drafts, the Braves ignored the quick fix a college player might provide, and placed their focus on high-upside high school talent. Look for them to extend this trend as they will have three of the first 80 picks (fifth, 41st and 80th) within this year's Draft.

The scoop

Look for the Braves to take a high school pitcher or position player with their first selection. The Braves certainly would like to add some quality bats to their pitching-heavy list of top prospects. But if it is deemed an arm is the best available talent when it comes time to make this year's first selection, the Braves will not shy away from taking a pitcher.

First-round buzz

Mayo recently projected the Braves will use their first pick on MacKenzie Gore, a left-handed pitcher from Whiteville (N.C.) High School. There would certainly be interest in Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright if he's available. But with a strong possibility Wright will be taken with one of the first two picks of the Draft, it seems more likely the Braves will end up with Gore or Royce Lewis, a high school shortstop from California.

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 $125,000 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.

This year, the Braves have a pool of $9,881,200 to spend in the first 10 rounds, including $5,707,300 to spend on their first selection.

Shopping list

While the Braves will certainly add some pitching, a couple target areas of interest will include catchers, outfielders and infielders who project as potential third basemen. The offseason acquisition of has helped improve the organization's depth at the catching position. But as Jackson continues to reintroduce himself to the position, the club must continue to look for their potential catcher of the future.

Trend Watch

Both of the past two years, the Braves have targeted high school talent with their early picks and then rounded out the second half of the first 10 rounds with college players. They landed a couple collegiate gems in 2015, when they took Matt Withrow (sixth round) and Patrick Weigel (seventh round). Last year's decision to take an abundance of college seniors aided the club's effort to stay within the limits of their bonus pool. College seniors do not have bonus negotiating power because their eligibility has expired.

Rising fast

When the Braves took left-hander Kolby Allard (14th overall) and Mike Soroka (28th overall) during the first round of the 2015 Draft, both were just 17 years old. Two years later, they have successfully handled the challenge of skipping the Class A Advanced level to make a leap into Double-A Mississippi's rotation. These two hurlers will draw buzz during next year's Spring Training and possibly make their big respective big league debuts in 2018.

Cinderella story

A 15th-round pick in 2014, Caleb Dirks has made a good impression within Triple-A Gwinnett's bullpen this year. Dirks was drafted by the Braves and then traded to the Dodgers during the 2015 season for international bonus pool slot money. He was re-acquired by Atlanta last year in the deal that sent to Los Angeles.

In The Show

Over the next few seasons, the Braves will likely have an influx of homegrown draft picks arriving in Atlanta. But providing further indication as to why they felt the need to overhaul what had become a weak farm system, right-handed reliever stands as the only player they've drafted who is currently on Atlanta's roster. Hursh has spent much of this season in the Minors, but he was recalled to provide bullpen depth on Tuesday.

The Braves' recent top picks

2016: Ian Anderson, RHP, Class A Rome

2015: Kolby Allard, LHP, Double-A Mississippi

2014: Braxton Davidson, OF, Class A Advanced Florida

2013: Jason Hursh, RHP, Atlanta

2012: , RHP, Triple-A Gwinnett