With the first day of the 2023 MLB Draft in the books it is time to look at Day 2 and some players the Atlanta Braves could target on the middle day of the event. After Day 1 we know the Braves likely have some money to play with, so there should be options available for them - though with one of the lower bonus pools in the league they also don’t have a ton of room to go overslot.
With this article we will look at a few guys who could go in the third or fourth round, a few guys who could go a little later in the day, as well as some senior sign type discount players.
Potential Early Picks
Steven Echavarria, RHP, New Jersey HS - After a run on college arms the Braves could decide to dip into the prep arm pool and grab a cold weather state prospect with four average or better pitches and some remaining projection. The Florida commit not only has projection but pitchability and potentially above-average command. This would be an upside type of pick where a team would have a lot to work with.
Drew Burress, OF, Georgia HS - The local product from Houston County HS isn’t the biggest player at just 5’9”, 175, but Drew Burress is toolsy but he’s an aggressive player with four average or better tools. Burress is at least above-average as a runner and fielder with a very strong arm, making him an asset in the field and with his aggressive approach maximizes the power in his smaller frame. There are some questions about if the Georgia Tech commit will hit enough, but the upside is real and he’s received favorable comps for his skill set and playing style.
Brandon Winokur, OF, California HS - Maybe my favorite realistic remaining prep bat in the draft is California prep star Brandon Winokur. The UCLA commit is a big (6’5”, 210) kid with potentially plus power and speed to go with a strong arm made for right field if he isn’t capable of playing center.
Jack Hurley, OF, Virginia Tech - Jack Hurley is pretty widely considered to be the top college bat remaining in this draft after the first day. He was productive in the tough ACC at Virginia Tech and the center fielder is a kid with four above-average or plus tools. Of course the lone tool that isn’t included is the hit tool, which grades out more average or maybe fringe-average (45/50 grades on the 20-80 scale). His power, speed, and defense aren’t in question and he seems like a type who should at least be able to hit enough to be a fourth outfielder if he comes in at the lower end with the hit tool.
Later Day Picks
Roc Riggio, 2B/OF, Oklahoma State - Roc Riggio is somewhat similar to former Braves prospect Justyn-Henry Malloy in that he’s a college player without a true defensive home, but all he does is hit. He’s just 5’9”, 180 and a below-average runner, but his feel for hitting with some raw power and playing hard at all times helps maximize the tools he does have. One thing that may keep him from the earlier part of Day 2 is the fact he struggled a little in the Cape Cod League with wood bats, but this is a player I have seen in person and been able to watch hit and don’t have any concerns about the bat.
Christian Little, RHP, LSU - Christian Little is one of the most interesting arms in this draft. This kid was a legitimate potential Top 10 pick out of high school, but took himself out of the draft by enrolling at Vanderbilt early. He carved out a decent role there as a freshman, but transferred to LSU for this season where he struggled with both results and finding a role. Still the stuff that made him a potential Top 10 pick out of high school two years ago makes him intriguing today despite the rough year at LSU. Little is an arm with potential to be unlocked and taking him would be a bet on getting that out of him.
Cam Minacci, RHP, Wake Forest - The Braves not only like Wake Forest arms, but also have no problem taking relievers on Day 2. And that’s what Minacci is, a true reliever only prospect. Minacci only has two pitches, but both the fastball and slider are plus offerings and he had a better season with his command this year leading to the belief that he could hold down a high leverage role in a big league bullpen.
Kendrey Maduro, SS, Florida JUCO - Kendrey Maduro is a shortstop for one of the top JUCO’s in Florida and a toolsy player with some real power. There is some real question about his hit tool and his strikeouts, but the other tools are for real. He’s young for the class at just barely age-19, and he had a strong performance in the MLB Draft League this year - a spot the Braves really drafted from significantly last season.
Kyle Hess, OF, Pitt - Kyle Hess is an ACC outfielder with some prep pedigree and a history of real production in one of the toughest leagues in the country. However on the flip side he is already 24-years-old and struggled both in the Cape Cod League and MLB Draft League with wood bats. It can’t be ignored that he is a kid who can get on base, hit for some extra base pop, and steal a few bases had less than 50 plate appearances in the MLBD League and his struggles in the Cape were all the way back in 2019.
Jackson Finley, DH/P, Georgia Tech - Jackson Finley came to Georgia Tech in 2020 as a pitcher and while he still pitched full time this year, he got more of an opportunity to hit. Finley came into this season with 15 career plate appearances, but was a full time two way guy this year who hit .328/.397/.672 with 17 homers. The strikeouts are very high with 79 in 224 PA, but this is also his first real taste of hitting at the college level. The hope with a player like this is that as he gets a little more time and experience under his belt, he could cut the strikeouts enough to have the power play a bit more. There are other teams who prefer him as a pitcher despite a rough season on the mound, as he can get up to 98 MPH and has a promising curve. The lack of experience is something that could work out in his favor as a bat, or the stuff could get a look in a relief role - and he comes with a fallback option of having the other one available for him.
Kyle Amendt, RHP, Dallas Baptist - Dallas Baptist has quietly been cranking out draft prospects for the last decade or so and Amendt is another one. He’s a reliever who is more of a mid-90s fastball guy but analytics loving teams like the Braves love those numbers on it.
Jace Grady, OF, Dallas Baptist- Grady is a second player from DBU who would make an interesting senior sign. He doesn’t have a ton of power or other tools, but the one tool he does have is the ability to hit and get on base. Grady has been an extremely productive hitter for average and OBP over the past couple of years and players with that skill set are always worth a look on the cheap.