Now that we are in April, we are two months into draft season and two more months out from the draft itself. That means players are starting to both emerge as well as drop off the board for the Braves with the ninth overall pick.
Now is as good of a time as any to see who has come off the board for the Braves because they have moved up, or moved down, as well as some guys who have moved into consideration. Note that Oregon State star catcher Adley Rutschman and Texas prep shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. were already off the board as guys who won’t drop to nine and Carter Stewart isn’t going to be a candidate because he would need to allow the Braves to draft him again (this happens with any player drafted by a team previously and not just due to how things worked out last summer).
Moving Off Board (Moving Up)
Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Cal - I was high on Vaughn before his name really started to get out there and he quickly became my top target in this draft as a realistic pick. But then he just kept producing to the point he has taken himself out of any position to drop down to the ninth pick. A likely Top 5 pick, Vaughn is a big time bat that will make some team very happy.
Moving Off the Board (Moving Down)
Graeme Stinson, LHP, Duke - The thing I’ve tried to note with Stinson all along is despite his huge stuff, great frame for starting, and huge results last year, he really needed to prove himself as a starter this year. He hasn’t been great through five starts and his stuff is down thanks to lower velocity than what he showed out of the bullpen last season. I would say he’s 100% out of it for the Top 10 should he rebound in the next two months, but the fact he was recently moved out of the rotation is a bad sign for a guy who needed to prove himself capable of handling a starter workload.
Moving Into the Top 10
Bryson Stott, SS, UNLV - I have had Stinson just outside of my Top 10 for a while now. Stott is a shortstop who can really hit and is a more than capable fielder. He had some questions about the power heading into the year because he didn’t have the strongest end up his summer with USA Baseball last year, but he’s at five homers to go with a triple slash of .310/.477/.543.
The Big Riser
Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State - Hunter Bishop was a solid second day candidate heading into the spring, but he has had a massive breakout to emerge as a potential Top 10 pick. I’m not fully bought in just yet but am coming around more and more on him. Bishop had .847 and .759 OPS marks in his first two seasons in Tempe with five homers apiece, but in just 26 games (roughly half the games of each of the past two years since the season is still ongoing) Bishop is only a few homers away from doubling his career homer total. He’s at 16 homers to go with a .424/.558/1.040 slash line. Yes that is a SLUGGING PERCENTAGE over 1.000, not just an OPS. He’s also stolen 10 bases in 13 attempts and while he’s not a burner, he’s able to use his instincts on the basepaths. I see Bishop at a right fielder with power, an improving hit tool, and some ability to use his legs.
Moving Up within the First Round
JJ Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt - JJ Bleday was always a very good hitter with some untapped power potential. He was a first round pick heading into the year after a sophomore season where he hit .368/.494/.511 with four homers, but after hitting five homers in the Cape his power seems to have taken a step forward. This spring he’s at .355/.449/.709 with 11 homers. Bleday reminds me a lot of a Trevor Larnach from last year- a guy who was a very productive hitter and big time on base skills guy that saw his power take a jump in his junior season. Bleday is still a little lower than the Top 10 for me, but he’s at least putting himself into the conversation for the Top 10 thanks to his power, on base ability, strong right field defense, and pedigree at a top SEC school.