Braves focus on arms to open Day 2 of Draft

June 13th, 2017

ATLANTA -- As the Braves progressed through Day 2 of this year's MLB Draft on Tuesday, they grabbed a couple late-blooming pitchers with high upside and six college seniors, whose lack of negotiating power will help the club stick within the limitations of its bonus pool.

The Braves are expected to provide an over-slot bonus to Kyle Wright, the Vanderbilt University right-hander they felt fortunate to grab with the fifth overall selection. Along with giving Wright a bonus that could be in the range of $7 million, they'll have to give their second selection, Drew Waters, something near the $1.7 million slot bonus assigned to the 41st overall selection.

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Wright and Waters alone could account for nearly 80 percent of the Braves' $9,881,200 this year. Penalties aren't assigned until a team exceeds its allotted pool number by more than five percent. Thus, the sum of the bonuses the Braves provided to players taken in the first 10 rounds must remain below $10,375,260 to avoid penalty.

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"When you're dealing within your pool money, sometimes that puts restraints on what your'e trying to do in terms of maneuvering through [the Draft]," Braves scouting director Brian Bridges said. "There's a lot of moving and shaking that goes on."

So the unexpected opportunity to get Wright on Monday night affected how the Braves went about their business on Tuesday, when they took a chance on a couple high-upside arms and then took six straight college seniors to end the day.

The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on at noon ET.

Here is a breakdown of Tuesday's selections (Rounds 3-10):

Round 3: RHP Freddy Tarnok, Riverview (Fla.) High School

Tarnok was not listed among MLBPipeline's Top 200 prospects entering the Draft, but the strides he has made since becoming a pitcher last year led one scout to describe his projection as "through the roof."

As Tarnok completed his high school career, he indicated a preference to play shortstop, but the Braves were more interested in the potential of his arm. The 18-year-old's fastball has topped 98 mph, but primarily sits between 92-95 mph. He has provided a glimpse of what could become a power curveball.

With his 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame, Tarnok has the potential to add arm strength as he continues to physically mature over the next few years. He has exclusively pitched from the stretch throughout his prep career.

"There was action on him as a player, but there wasn't a whole lot of action on him as a pitcher," Bridges said. "Everybody knew about him. You're not fooling anybody. That last game I saw him, I said, 'Man, this is a pretty special arm.'"

Round 4: RHP Troy Bacon, Santa Fe College

Like Tarnok, Bacon wasn't listed among MLBPipeline's top prospects entering this Draft. But the 6-foot, 165-pound hurler impressed the Braves as he continued to enhance his arm strength over the past year. The 20-year-old's fastball has touched 97 mph. He has a plus changeup and has shown the makings of an improved slider.

The Braves once again appeared to be taking a chance on the potential of Bacon, who was drafted by the Rockies in the 37th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He is currently committed to attend Mississippi State.

"He's a high-upside kid who is very smart," Bridges said. "He's a live-bodied kid with a fast arm."

Round 5: LHP Bruce Zimmerman, University of Mount Olive (N.C.)

With their first college senior selection of the year, the Braves took Zimmerman, who was recently named a second-team pitcher on the NCAA Division II All-Southeast Region team. The 22-year-old hurler began his collegiate career at Towson State University, the alma mater of Braves Hall of Fame executive John Schuerholz.

Zimmerman matched Padres reliever ' school-record 129 strikeouts and issued 24 walks as he posted a 3.18 ERA over 99 innings this year.

Round 6: 3B Jordan Rodgers, University of Tennessee

After enjoying a celebrated high school career that included being named a Mr. Football finalist in Tennesseee, Rodgers spent his freshman season with the Volunteers wondering if he had chosen the right sport. But by the time he concluded his career in Knoxville this spring, his determined spirit had helped him become one of the team's most beloved and successful players.

Rodgers was named first-team All-Southeastern Conference third baseman after hitting .322 with nine home runs this year. The former high school quarterback started all 50 games for the Vols. He totaled just 23 at-bats during his freshman season.

Rodgers was the second straight college senior selection for the Braves, who need to conserve some money to sign Wright and Waters.

Round 7: RHP Landon Hughes, Georgia Southern University

The Braves dipped back into their hometown talent by selecting Hughes, a Marietta, Ga., native who concluded his collegiate career at Georgia Southern University. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound right-hander recorded 55 strikeouts and issued 16 walks while producing a 2.51 ERA over 43 innings (28 relief appearances) this season.

Though Hughes was not considered among the most attractive prospects entering this year's Draft, his stock could continue to increase as he grows into his slender frame. He limited opponents to a .175 batting average in 2016 and followed that up by allowing an impressive .172 average this year.

Round 8: LHP John Curtis, Lenoir-Rhyne College (Hickory, N.C.)

With their fourth straight college senior selection, the Braves opted to take a chance on Curtis, who recorded 71 strikeouts and issued 32 walks while producing a 4.32 ERA over 50 innings this year. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound southpaw was much more effective when used as a reliever.

Round 9: SS Riley Delgado, Middle Tennessee State University

Taking a chance that his bat will play at the professional level, the Braves selected Delgado, who batted .352 and compiled a .891 OPS during his senior season for the Blue Raiders. The 22-year-old shortstop from Miami has a reliable glove and he has shown an ability to consistently put the ball in play. He struck out 19 times in 233 at-bats this year.

Round 10: RHP Jacob Belinda, Lock Haven (Pa.) University

Belinda recorded 78 strikeouts and issued 33 walks while producing a 4.72 ERA over 61 innings this season. This was a heartwarming pick for the Braves, who learned about this senior right-hander from beloved scout Gene Kerns, who passed away on Friday after a fight with cancer.