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2018 Atlanta Braves Draft review

2018 Major League Baseball Draft

This Draft class was a disaster from the start. The Atlanta Braves selected Carter Stewart, who didn’t receive a clean bill of health leading to a low-ball offer from the club. The team's draft class in 2017 saw only 2 players play for the big-league team. The 2018 draftees one upped the previous year's draft with just one player appearing in an MLB game for Braves. Down below we are going to break down a few of these picks, including a player who didn’t sign, as well as some notable players that were drafted around the Braves later selections.

In my article on the 2017 Draft, I discussed the signees first. Although the most notable pick from this class is a player who went unsigned so instead, we are going to review that pick first before getting into anything of the signees.

Round 1, Pick 8 - Carter Stewart - RHP

The Braves failed Stewart’s physical due to ligament damage in his wrist resulting in an offer of $2,000,000, which was nearly 60% lower than the draft slots value. Stewart, understandably, so rejected the club’s offer. Instead of reentering the draft in 2019, Stewart opted to play professionally in Japan signing with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the Japan Pacific League. His deal with them was for 6 years and worth about $7,000,000, which is significantly more than Stewart would have received the year prior even had the Braves offered him the full slot bonus. Notably as well this is a move that will allow Stewart to become an MLB free agent at 25 which is unprecedented. Whilst opting to play in Japan first is certainly an unconventional route to the MLB for an American born player it is one that appears to be benefiting Stewart in both the short and the long term.

Round 2, Pick 49 - Greyson Jenista - 1B/RF

Jenista has played at every level for the Braves organization except for the big-league club. The 2nd round pick had a three-year run of being a Braves top 22 prospect from 2019 to 2021 on MLB Pipeline. Since then though he has not appeared on the team's top 30 prospect list.

Jenista has struggled to gain much traction at any level. His highest career home run total came in 2021 where he hit 19, the only season of his career in which he connected with more than 14. The lefty swinger also only has one season in his career where he hit above .233, which came in his first season of pro ball. All things considered it is difficult to view Jenista as anything more than an organizational depth piece who maybe plays a game or two in the bigs.

Round 4, Pick 112 - Tristan Beck - RHP

Beck’s tenure with the Braves was short lived as he was traded 13 months after being signed by the club. Atlanta paired him with pitcher Dan Winkler for then San Francisco Giants closer Mark Melancon. The trade was successful for Atlanta as Melancon appeared in 46 games, saving 22 games with a 3.30 ERA.

Beck’s career with the Giants has never really got off the ground as the 26-year-old didn’t appear in a AAA game until last season. His lifetime ERA is 4.87 through 54 games, 49 of which were starts. Like Jenista, Beck should be viewed as organizational depth and a player who had a shot at appearing in an MLB game or two.

Round 5, Pick 142 - Trey Riley - RHP

Riley has struggled to find his footing in the Braves system. He was an off and on starter in his first two seasons starting 14 of the 23 games he pitches in. In his following two seasons all 66 of his appearances came in relief. It looked like the switch worked as in 2021 he pitched to a solid 3.29 ERA in 29 games at A+ ball. Unfortunately, though he took a step back last year as he posted a poor 5.27 ERA. His 2022 season saw him reach AA, pitching in 6 ⅔ innings. Riley hasn’t appeared in the team's top 30 prospects since the 2020 season where he ranked 29th.

Round 6, Pick 172 - Andrew Moritz - OF

Round 7 Pick 202 - Brooks Wilson - LHP

Wilson looked like he was on a path to have a bright future with the Braves after coming off of a 2.47 ERA at the A+ level in 2019. Then after not having a minor league season in 2020 due to COVID-19, he picked up where he left off pitching to a 2.34 ERA across 39 appearances at the AA and AAA level in 2021. Unfortunately, though Wilson missed all of 2022 as he underwent Tommy John surgery in early April of that year. Wilson was likely to debut with the Braves at some point in 2022 as he was added to the teams 40-man roster. It remains to be seen when Wilson will return, but hopefully he is able to finally make his big-league debut at the end of this season.

Round 8, Pick 232 - A.J. Graffanino - IF

The Detroit Tigers selected LHP Tarik Skubal with the 255th Pick.

Round 9, Pick 262 - Ryan Shetter - RHP

Round 10, Pick 292 - Brett Langhorne - 1B

Round 11, Pick 322 - Jake Higginbotham - LHP

Round 12, Pick 352 - Nolan Kingman - RHP

Round 13, Pick 382 - Brendan Venter - IF

Round 14, Pick 412 - Victor Vodnik - RHP

Vodnik had a really high ceiling when the Braves originally selected him back in 2018. Although, he has struggled to stay healthy throughout his tenure which has stunted his development and forced a move to the bullpen in 2022. He only threw 34 ⅔ innings last season across the AA and AAA levels, but he pitched to a rock solid 2.34 ERA and struck out 47 batters. Vodnik, only 23 years old, is the Braves 11th best prospect on and projects as someone who can play in the majors this season.

Round 15, Pick 442 - Greg Cullen - IF

Round 16, Pick 472 - Ty Harpenau - RHP

Round 17, Pick 502 - Justin Dean - OF

After the 2019 season, Dean looked like a player who could be a contributor at the Major League level down the road. He had a triple slash line of .284/.386/.431 with 9 home runs and 47 stolen bases over 109 games. Dean’s performance has dropped significantly over the past two seasons though. In 2021 his triple slash dropped to .237/.345/.364 with 4 home runs and 29 stolen bases and then in 2022 it fell to .229/.328/.323 paired with 4 homers and 24 steals at AA and AAA. Dean might sneak onto the MLB roster at some point down the road but the odds of him becoming a contributor are extremely low.

Round 18, Pick 532 - Cameron Kurz - RHP

Round 19, Pick 562 - Zach Daniels - RHP

Round 20, Pick 592 - C.J. Alexander - 3B

Round 21, Pick 622 - Tanner Lawson - LHP

Round 22, Pick 652 - Ray Soderman - C

The Phillies selected catcher Logan O’Hoppe with the 677th pick who is currently MLB Pipelines 53rd overall prospect.

Round 23, Pick 682 - William Woods - RHP

Across his four minor league seasons with the Braves Woods struggled pitching to a 4.60 ERA in 107 ⅔ innings. He only threw 10 ⅔ innings in 2021 missing the majority of the season due to an elbow injury. He debuted with the Braves in 2022 throwing 2 innings across 2 games without allowing a run. Woods spent the majority of his season, when healthy with the teams AAA affiliate where he struggled with a 5.19 ERA. Atlanta designated Woods for assignment in November and he was claimed by the Mets three days later.

Round 24, Pick 712 - Rusber Estrada - C

Round 25, Pick 742 - Michael Mateja - 3B

Round 26, Pick 772 - Zach Guth - LHP

Round 27, 802 - Zach Seipel - RHP

Round 29, Pick 862 - Ray Hernandez - 3B

Round 30, Pick 892 - Mitch Stallings - LHP

Round 31, Pick 922 - Gabriel Rodriguez - LHP

Round 32, Pick 952 - Trey Harris - RF

Round 33, Pick 982 - Mason Berne - 1B

Round 35, Pick 1,012 - Logan Brown - C

Round 36, Pick 1,042 - Victor Cavalieri - LHP

Round 37, Pick 1,072 - Alex Camacho - RHP


Round 1 - Carter Stewart

Round 28 - Derek West

Round 34 - Zack Hess

Round 38 - Franco Aleman

Round 39 - Jack Perkins

Round 40 - Micky Mangan

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