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Braves' Draft features arms and bloodlines

Day 1 picks Hursh, Salazar lead class containing 19 pitchers

The Braves focused on a handful of attributes and stuck to them, loading up on young arms with the potential to build up to big league velocity and reaching into the high school talent pool early and often in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

"We took a lot of pitching today," Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio said after Rounds 11-40 wrapped up MLB's annual rite on Saturday. "That was sort of our goal, and that's what we were attracted to."

After collecting power arms Jason Hursh from Oklahoma State and California prep Carlos Salazar with two of their first three picks, the Braves went on to take a total of 19 pitchers over the three-day Draft -- nearly half their class. As the more polished products came off the board, the Braves did not shy away from younger prospects with potential to develop.

Starting with Campbell (N.C.) University left-hander Matt Marksberry 463rd overall, the Braves selected pitchers with eight consecutive picks in Rounds 18-25.

"We thought we got some guys that had velocity, and we thought we had some guys that could increase their velocity," DeMacio said. Primarily, we just continue to try to look for good arms. You have to take a lot of them."

The Braves were happy to grab T.C. Williams (Va.) High right-hander Alec Grosser, a George Mason commit who has spent the past few months as one of the most sought-after prep arms in the country, with their first pick of Day 3, in the 11th round.

"Yesterday, we didn't think he could be signed, and we were able to work something out," DeMacio said on Saturday. "He's a big tall high school right-hander that all of our scouts who saw him liked. So I would say he's probably the highest-profile guy that we took that we didn't expect to have a chance at signing."

With the new rules governing the budget each team is allotted for signing Draft picks, the Braves were even more careful in considering whether a high school player would sign.

"Signability becomes much bigger after the 10th round because you only have a certain amount of money to work with," DeMacio said. "If you don't have any money left over from those top 10 rounds, signability becomes even more important. We felt like we were able to take guys that wanted to go out, first of all, that had good arms, and that our scouts like. We have certain guys that are targeted by our scouts, the guys they would like to have in the Draft, and that's who we try to draft."

The Braves also pulled in power bats in the early and middle rounds with the selections of players such as Horseheads (N.Y.) High third baseman Dylan Manwaring in the ninth round and Huntingdon (Ga.) College catcher Joseph Odom in the 13th round. There was also a pronounced focus on depth up the middle, as the Braves fortified their crop of middle infielders and center fielders in addition to the numerous pitchers and catchers selected.

"For the corner position guys, [power] was our primary objective, and then for middle infielders, guys who could pick up the ball," DeMacio said. "We just listened to what the scouts had to say and targeted the guys that they thought could do that, and we'll find out, like every other club."

The Draft was also highlighted by the Braves' selection of a pair of prospects in the outfield with intimate ties to current Braves: Georgia Tech outfielder Kyle Wren, the son of general manager Frank Wren; and Jacob Heyward, the younger brother of star right fielder Jason Heyward.

Jason said Saturday that Jacob, a star at Eagles Landing Christian Academy in Georgia, had already decided to forgo the pros to play for the Miami Hurricanes.

Eric Single is an associate reporter for
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