Braves could land college arm in first round
ATLANTA -- As Braves vice president of scouting, Dana Brown has prepared for the 2021 MLB Draft, he has monitored the healthy selection of talented college arms that might be available.
“It’s one of those things where you hope some of those college arms slide to you,” Brown said. “We have multiple guys that we’re looking at. You just don’t know who is going to. But it seems like the strength of the Draft is going to be college arms.”
Day 1 of the 2021 Draft will take place live from Denver’s Bellco Theatre on Sunday. It will feature the first 36 picks and will air on MLB Network and ESPN at 7 p.m. ET. Day 2, which will span rounds 2-10, begins at 1 p.m. ET on Monday. The Draft will conclude with rounds 11-20 on Tuesday, starting at 12 p.m. ET. MLB.com will simulcast MLB Network’s broadcast and provide live coverage on all three days.
To view when teams pick, the Top 200 Prospects list, mock drafts from analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, scouting video and more, visit to MLB.com/Draft. Follow @MLBDraft and @MLBDraftTracker on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying and to get each pick as it’s made.
The Braves’ only pick on Sunday will be the 24th overall selection. Their bonus pool allotment is $6,326,300, which is the league’s fifth-lowest amount this year.
Brown took a college catcher (Shea Langeliers) when the Braves had the ninth overall pick in 2019. He selected a college pitcher (Jared Shuster) when Atlanta’s first pick was the 25th overall selection last year. What he goes with this year remains to be seen.
Within his latest published Mock Draft, MLB.com’s Jim Callis predicted the Braves will use their first round pick to take right-hander Will Bednar, who recently led Mississippi State to the College World Series title. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo’s latest prediction called for Atlanta to take righty Michael McGreevy, a right-hander out of UC Santa Barbara.
This year’s Draft will include 20 rounds. This is approximately half the amount of rounds Brown and his peers have had to work with throughout a majority of their careers. But this arrangement certainly feels more normal than last year, when the Draft consisted of just five rounds.
“With 20 rounds, it’s a lot more exciting,” Brown said. “We’ve got a lot of names on our board. We think we can go deep into the Draft. There were some pretty good players who were passed over last year.”
While running the Braves’ draft both of the past two years, Brown has had some early-round success. Langeliers ranks as the No. 56 overall prospect and the game’s No. 6 catching prospect. The cannon-armed backstop has also quieted concerns about his offensive potential. He entered Friday having hit 14 homers with a .898 OPS for Double-A Mississippi.
Still while Langeliers and infielder Braden Shewmake have tasted success at the Double-A level, the best selection from the Braves’ 2019 Draft might be Atlanta's No. 9-ranked prospect, Michael Harris II, who was taken in the third round. Harris will represent Atlanta in Sunday’s SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Chipper Jones has described the outfielder as being Ronald Acuña Jr. from the left side.
Two of the Braves’ four picks from last year’s Draft -- right-handed pitchers Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder -- have already advanced to Double-A. Shuster hasn’t created any concerns while continuing to pitch for Class A Advanced Rome.
“When there's an opportunity to potentially draft a position player and you think you got a chance of solving that position for the big league club down the road, that’s an exciting draw right there,” Brown said. “But for the most part, I'd love to get arms because you could never have enough of them.”