clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A look at the 10 best Atlanta Braves draft picks after the 20th round

With the MLB Draft officially reduced to 20 rounds going forward, we look at some former Atlanta Braves draft choices selected after the new cut off.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies
Evan Gattis
Photo by Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images

The new collective bargaining agreement was finalized yesterday, and one of the things to come out of it was a revamped format for the annual MLB Draft. The draft will be remain at 20 rounds going forward. This news is hardly a surprise, but it is a finalization on rounds 21-40 being off the table permanently rather than just temporarily.

While that isn’t necessarily going to be earth shattering for casual fans who have long thought the MLB Draft was too long, it will have a profound impact for sure on the game. One reason supporting that is because there is plenty of talent that has been found after the 20th round of the draft and those types of chances are not going to be available to teams anymore (at least...not in the same way anyways).

Below we will talk about some of the best Atlanta Braves draft picks after the 20th round since the late-1980s, the time when the draft format changed to be a once a year draft rather than a twice a year event. Note that to be considered, a player had to sign, so while Anthony Rendon is arguably the best player drafted by the team post-20th round, he isn’t a part of this list.

Marcus Giles

A 53rd round pick in 1996, before the format was even cut to 40 rounds, Marcus Giles is arguably one of the most impactful picks the Braves made in these late rounds. Giles had a seven-year career, with the first six as a Brave.

During his time with the Braves, he posted a .285/.361/.448 with 72 homers and 60 steals. He made the 2003 NL All Star team in a year where he posted a .917 OPS with 21 homers and 14 steals in his age-25 season. Giles had looked like one of the top young second basemen in the game but had issues staying healthy and that ended up being the high point in his career.

Adam LaRoche

Adam LaRoche was a 29th round pick by the Braves in 2000 and had an interesting and long big league career. From former top prospect, to cast off, back to the Braves, and eventually a journeyman before suddenly retiring from the White Sox after the team had an issue with him bringing his son into the clubhouse.

LaRoche spent a dozen years in the big leagues, including four with the Braves in two separate stints, as he was sent to the Pirates before the 2007 season to bring in closer Mike Gonzalez, and then reacquired from Boston at the trade deadline in 2009. Overall he hit .260/.336/.462 with 255 homers.

Jonny Venters

Jonny Venters was a 30th round pick in 2003, who came out of no where to make his big league debut in 2010 as a reliever. He joined Craig Kimbrel and Eric O’Flaherty to be one of the best bullpens in baseball during the 2010-2012 stretch posting a 2.23 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over a massive total of 230 games. He was even named an All Star in 2011.

Unfortunately Venters arm wasn’t the same after that stretch, and he didn’t appear in the big leagues after that 2012 season until finding his way back in 2018 with Tampa, only to be dealt back to the Braves at the trade deadline for international bonus money. Venters wasn’t the same guy as the earlier version, but now a crafty veteran he managed to pitch a solid few months down the stretch. However that was it, as he wasn’t the same in 2019 and after a brief unsuccessful stint, he was released. He caught on with the Nationals but called it quits at the end of the season.

Tommy Hanson

Tommy Hanson was a 22nd round pick back in 2005 as a draft and follow. The JUCO pitcher signed and became one of the top overall prospects in baseball, quickly making his way to the big leagues and for a bit looking like he was going to live up to the hype.

That’s where the tale of Tommy Hanson gets sad, as injuries led to a decrease in effectiveness, a fairly quick exit from the big leagues after a trade to the Angels, an addiction to pain killers, and sadly his death in 2015 at the age of 29.

Hanson pitched five years in the bigs, the first four with the Braves, and posted a 3.80 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. That only tells part of the tale as through 77 starts in his first three seasons he had a 3.28 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, and at the age of 24 looked like he was on the verge of stardom.

Evan Gattis

Evan Gattis was a 23rd round pick in 2010, and while it feels like he was a Brave for longer was only here for two years before being traded to the Astros in the deal that included Mike Foltynewicz and Rio Ruiz.

El Oso Blanco had a six-year career where he hit .248/.300/.476 with 139 homers. While his best years were with the Astros, he was very productive in his two seasons with the Braves.

Tyler Flowers

Tyler Flowers was a 33rd round pick in 2005 and went on to have a long and solid big league career. In his 12 big league seasons through 2020, Flowers hit .237/.319/.391 with 86 homers.

Flowers didn’t actually make his Braves debut until 2016 as he was traded to the White Sox following the 2008 season in a deal that brought Javier Vazquez to Atlanta. After spending his first seven seasons in Chicago, Flowers returned to the Braves in 2016 and helped the team go from the cellar to a legitimate contender before he hung up his spikes roughly a year ago.

Tim Spooneybarger

The pickings at the big league level start to get thin around this point as the Braves 29th round pick in 1998, Tim Spooneybarger makes the cut for the Top 10. A reliever who pitched 88 career games, Spooneybarger appeared in 51 games out of the Braves pen in 2002 while posting a 2.63 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.

Bryce Ball

Yes Bryce Ball is now a Cubs prospect, but the 24th round pick of the Braves in 2019 has to make this list because of his contribution to the 2021 World Series title. That is because Ball was traded to the Cubs for Joc Pederson, who not only had some key hits in October but became a leader in the clubhouse during that magical playoff run.

William Woods

A Braves 23rd round pick in 2018, William Woods, rose up Braves prospect lists over the last 18 months as he has seen a spike in his velocity into the upper 90s. The former JUCO arm hasn’t been able to show much of it in games to date due to the lost 2020 Covid season and injuries that severely limited his availability in 2021. We are hopeful to get a more extended look at Woods in 2022.

Indigo Diaz

Indigo Diaz will be the last name on this list, literally and figuratively as the Braves 27th round pick in 2019 - the final draft at 40 rounds. Diaz broke out in 2021, and the reliever from Michigan State has gone on to become one of the top pure reliever prospects in the Braves system - along with one of the best in baseball.