As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we'll be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Braves camp, it was No. 4 prospect Kolby Allard (MLBPipeline.com's No. 53 overall prospect). LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Kolby Allard, the Braves' top
As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we'll be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Braves camp, it was No. 4 prospect Kolby Allard (MLBPipeline.com's No. 53 overall prospect).
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Kolby Allard, the Braves' top pick in the 2015 Draft (No. 14 overall), was as good as any pitcher in Class A Rome's enormously talented starting rotation last year. He went 5-1 with a 2.61 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings over his final eight regular-season starts, and then he tossed 12 scoreless frames as Rome captured the South Atlantic League title.
MLBPipeline.com: Did you know that the Braves were going to draft you, and what was your reaction when you found out?
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Allard: I didn't really know the Braves were going to take me. We had long talks before the Draft, and I knew they were one of the teams really interested in me, so me and my family did our diligence on the Braves and really liked what was going on there. We had a party with all my friends and family, and when they called my name it was one of the greatest moments of my life, honestly. It was a super special day and I'm very thankful I was drafted into an organization like the Braves'.
MLBPipeline.com: How's your back feeling these days? And how about last offseason when you had to take to Twitter to clarify that rumor?
Allard: The back is feeling great, and I'm feeling really good going into this year. When I did that on Twitter it was basically to set the record straight. I honestly still to this day don't know where that came from and how it started, so I just had to clear the air and let everyone know that I did not have a second back surgery. It's kind of weird looking back at it; I like to focus on stuff between the lines.
MLBPipeline.com: You were part of a legendary pitching staff last year and won a South Atlantic League title with Class A Rome. What was that atmosphere like amongst you pitchers?
Allard: It was a great atmosphere to be in. To be able to go out there and see Patrick Weigel or Mike Soroka or Max Fried or anybody, every single day and just throwing well. Every day you'd show up to the yard and have to do your thing and get better, or else someone is going to pass you up. Everyone's pulling for each other -- it's not like it's a bad competitiveness -- and we all try to pick each other's minds, seeing what one another is doing and then trying to apply it to our own games.
MLBPipeline.com: As I'm sure you probably know, MLBPipeline.com ranked the Braves farm system as the best in baseball. When you look around camp this spring and see all the talent, do you get the impression that you guys have something special in the making?
Allard: I think we have a chance to do something pretty special in the upcoming years and hopefully hold it together for a long time. We have a lot of talent down here, so I'm very excited and think we have a chance to do something special like the Braves did in the late '90s and early 2000s. It's going to be a lot of fun.
• Braves Spring Training Report
MLBPipeline.com: What has been your biggest developmental focus this spring ahead of the 2017 season?
Allard: Nothing glaring or too specific, really. I'm just working on my secondary stuff, keeping it in the zone and throwing it where I want to. More so, it's about getting my body physically ready and right for a full season, and I'm feeling really good. I'm ready to go.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.