The 2018 MLB Draft is upon us and as such comes the annual tradition of many casual baseball fans actually starting to care about the draft, where their team is picking, and who they could get. While the MLB draft doesn’t have the excitement of things like picks being traded on draft day or the thought that the players selected will be on the field literally the next season, a lot hinges on teams’ selections and there is always the unique fun of seeing if a given team can find a diamond in the rough in the later rounds.
There is the added intrigue with the Braves with a new front office and seeing what direction they go in this draft versus what has happened in previous drafts. Plus, the Braves were penalized via the loss of their 3rd round pick in this draft which causes some real issues with their bonus pool that I wrote about a little while ago.
For those of you who are just getting acquainted with the wonder that is the draft season or even for you diehards that want some quick reference material, here is a primer of everything you need to know going into next week’s draft.
The Basics (Draft Order, Bonus Pool, etc.)
The Braves will be selecting 8th overall in the first round of the 2018 draft and their next selection after that is the 49th overall pick which is in the second round. The reason for the “larger than the number of teams in the league” gap between picks is the presence of compensation picks and competitive balance picks between the first and second round of which the Braves have none (yes, it is a stupid and not particularly fair or well-thought out system, but here we are nonetheless). As I mentioned before, the Braves do not own a third round pick due to the penalties that were handed down this past offseason for the transgressions of former general manager John Coppolella and other members of the front office. After that, the Braves will pick 8th in every round from the fourth round all the way through the 40th round.
The Braves’ total bonus pool in the draft is listed at $8,267,300. Normally, their bonus pool with such a high draft pick would put them around the top 10 in the league (the comp picks and their slot values mess with things there a bit), but the loss of their 3rd round pick and the roughly $675,000 in bonus pool money that comes with it means that their pool is roughly in the the middle of the league overall. The slot value for the the 8th overall pick is $4,980,700. If you want to know all of the slot values for all of the picks as well as the bonus pools, etc. you can click right here (although this link is a bit older and the Padres’ picks and numbers, for example, are not quite right).
The Braves’ tendencies
In recent years, the Braves have bet heavily on high school players, in particular pitchers. Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, Ian Anderson, Joey Wentz, Kyle Muller, and Drew Waters have all been high picks for the Braves in recent years from the high school ranks and while the front office is different, much of the scouting staff led by scouting director Brian Bridges remains intact. As a result, one should not be surprised if the Braves stick with that blueprint.
A notable exception was the selection of college pitcher Kyle Wright out of Vanderbilt last year. This does show that the Braves are willing to pluck guys from the college ranks if they like them a lot. When a guy who was arguably the best player in the draft falls in your lap, you kind of have to take him.
One last note here: the Braves have been known to try and manipulate their bonus pool in their favor as was the case in the 2016 draft when they snagged three guys in Anderson, Wentz, and Muller who were arguably all first round talents. However, with the teams that pick ahead of them before their second round pick and the limitations of their pool, this course seems problematic at best. That said, some pool shenanigans in the fourth through 10th rounds isn’t off the table.
The Braves’ Targets
The Braves are picking just low enough to make predicting who is going to be there tough. One can say with a reasonably high degree of certainty that pitcher Casey Mize, catcher Joey Bart, infielder Nick Madrigal, and third baseman Alec Bohm won’t be available when the Braves pick. After that, who knows what is going to happen.
That hasn’t stopped those in the draft/prospect evaluation business from trying to figure things out, though. High school power-hitting third baseman Nolan Gorman, high school outfielder Jarred Kelenic, high school RHP Carter Stewart, high school LHP Ryan Weathers, and high school RHP Kumar Rocker have all had their names associated with the Braves at some point in mock drafts this spring with varying degrees of confidence with Gorman being the most frequently heard name. A lot can change between now and the draft, but that is where we are at so far.
This is a very exciting time for all baseball fans, so make sure you keep an eye on Talking Chop as we have already started rolled out profiles on the Braves’ potential targets, reviewing the Braves’ previous drafts, and talking about potentially exciting options past the first round. There is a lot more to come and we will be provided extremely in-depth coverage of the draft as it is happened, so stay tuned.