Braves take prep lefty Allard with No. 14 pick
Missed most of senior season with back fracture
ATLANTA -- Based on what he saw while watching Kolby Allard pitch last summer, Braves scouting director Brian Bridges did not think he would have a chance to select the talented young left-handed pitcher.
But because of a back ailment that slightly diminished Allard's value over the past few months, the Braves were thrilled to have the opportunity to take the 17-year-old southpaw with their first pick (the 14th overall selection) in the 2015 Draft on Monday night.
"This is a kid you target early in the summer," Bridges said. "These are kids you follow. I saw him throw a bullpen the night I went to see him and I thought it was a pipe dream. I said there's no way this kid gets to us. But we were fortunate that some unfortunate things happened."
After establishing himself as one of the country's top high school pitchers during last summer's Pan American Championship, Allard missed most of his senior season at San Clemente (Calif.) High School because of a stress fracture in his back.
Since being cleared to begin throwing again a little more than a month ago, Allard has not experienced any discomfort in his back or prized left arm.
"I'm not worried about my back," Allard said. "It's not like it's a career thing. It's just a freaky little thing. I'm ready to put it behind me."
Though Allard has not reached an official agreement with the Braves on his signing bonus, Bridges indicated a deal would be reached very soon. Allard, a UCLA commit, is represented by Casey Close, who also serves as Freddie Freeman's agent.
"I couldn't be happier to begin my career with the Atlanta Braves," Allard said. "It's a first-class organization with first-class people. They have a ton of history. I couldn't be more grateful for them giving me the opportunity to play Major League Baseball. It's something I've wanted since I was a little guy."
Though Allard does not have a physically-imposing frame, he features two plus pitches -- a fastball that has sat between 92-94 mph and a curveball that Bridges described as one of the best available in this year's Draft.
Allard fanned 17 of the 29 hitters he faced while leading Team USA to a gold medal in last summer's Pan American Championship.
"He pitches to both sides of the plate and the changeup is on the come, like most prep pitchers," Bridges said. "But he has a very good arm and he's a great kid."
Allard made just three appearances and totaled seven innings during his senior season at San Clemente. In the 63 1/3 innings he completed as a junior, he compiled a 1.74 ERA and recorded 98 strikeouts, while issuing just 17 walks.
"I'm just excited to get back on the mound and get going," Allard said. "I'm thrilled with the opportunity the Braves have provided."
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
This year marks the first since 2006 that the Braves have five of the first 75 selections.