It is that time of the year again for Braves fans. The 2021 MLB Draft is sneaking up on us and as is customary here at Talking Chop, we plan on providing an extensive look at what could, should, and will happen when the Atlanta Braves make their selections. The current plan is cover all mock drafts that come out from now until draft day as well as provide information on potential targets for the Braves’ first round pick, day two and day three options, positional breakdowns/rankings, and more. That coverage will begin this week with Matt’s writeup on first round targets for the Braves.
However, before we dig into the draft, we need to establish the basics and that is the purpose of this very article. Below, you will find all of the basics you need for the 2021 MLB Draft and the Braves.
So when is the 2021 MLB Draft?
The 2021 Draft will take place starting on Sunday, July 11th, 2021 and continue through Tuesday, July 13rd. This is a departure from the usual June draft dates in the past, but for a great reason as the decision this year was to combine the draft with the All-Star Game festivities. That decision should allow more players to attend the first night of the draft and not conflict with the College World Series. Obviously the draft was previously going to take place in Atlanta, but was moved to Denver along with the All-Star Game. Also, as of this writing, it isn’t known exactly which rounds are going to happen on which days, but generally its the first couple of rounds on day one, rounds 3-10 on day two, and the rest on day three.
When will the Braves be picking and how much money do they have to spend?
The first part of that is easy. The Braves will be picking 24th in the first round of the 2021 draft and do not hold any compensation or competitive balance round picks. For those keeping track at home, that is fifth from the bottom of the first round and they hold the same draft position in the second round. Every round after that, the Braves will be picking sixth from the bottom (the difference has to do with teams losing picks from signings and the Astros cheating unapologetically, but that is neither here nor there). It is also worth mentioning that this year’s draft will only be 20 rounds. The COVID-19 pandemic shortened last year’s draft to five rounds, but traditionally the draft had been 40 rounds before that. With the ongoing impact of the pandemic plus the consolidation of the minor leagues this season, it wouldn’t be that surprising to see that change stick long-term.
The second part requires a little explanation. Each pick in the draft through the draft’s first 10 rounds is assigned a slot value. You add up all the slots to get a team’s draft bonus pool. If a player in a given slot doesn’t sign, the team loses all of the bonus pool for that slot. In the 2021 MLB Draft, the Braves have a total bonus pool of $6,326,300...the fifth lowest in the league. For those of you that are going to inevitably clamoring for the Braves to try overslot shenanigans, that lack of a bonus pool is important to remember especially when you consider that 10 teams have north of $10 million in their bonus pools. Teams can pay more than their bonus pool allows, but the amount of the overage determines the penalty for doing so. If they pay up to 5 percent over, they pay a 75% tax on that overage. More than that and teams start losing picks...but since no team has ever done that, its essentially a moot point.
So who might the Braves pick?
When a team is picking as far down as the Braves, there are way too many variables to get a great idea of who might even be available at the 24th overall pick. A recent Baseball America mock had the Braves interested in Wake Forest pitcher Ryan Cusick, but again, it is still very early. We will have an extensive rundown of potential Braves targets for the first round later this week, but some names that have been ranked elsewhere in the Braves’ general range include but are obviously not limited to prep OF Joshua Baez, prep OF Will Taylor, prep shortstop Izaac Pacheco, prep RHP Chase Petty, Florida OF Jud Fabian, South Alabama OF Ethan Wilson, LSU RHP Jaden Hill, and Louisville 3B Alex Binelas. That said, we will make sure to link our breakdown of who the Braves could and should target in the first here once it goes up.