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Eight impactful Braves day three picks from the past 20 years

There is always talent to be found, and the Braves have had their share of steals in recent years

Boston Red Sox v Atlanta Braves Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Today is the third and final day of the MLB Draft, and the Atlanta Braves will have ten picks starting with their round 11 picks. While not often a haven of the best prospects, the Braves have often put an effort in to maximize value in the final rounds of the draft. We’re going to take a look back as some notable Braves day three signings over the past 20 years, though some had more impact with other organizations. We’re going in order of round, starting with

Vaughn Grissom - 2019 11th round

Unlike the other players that will follow Grissom has not had his chance to establish himself as a major league player, but even with that his future still seems bright and the 22 year old has already had an impact on the major league club. Grissom was instrumental in the Braves comeback to win the division in 2022, coming straight up from Double-A to fill in for the injured Ozzie Albies and Orlando Arcia at second base. Grissom started his career off with a bang, homering in his first career game, and went on to post a 121 wRC+ in 41 games. Grissom ultimately lost his spot once the other returned from injuries and hasn’t been able to reclaim that spot, but his surprise impact after his aggressive promotion was instrumental in the Braves taking home a fifth straight division crown.

Brandon Drury - 2010 13th round

Drury never played with Atlanta, instead being a part of the Braves 2013 trade for Justin Upton. Drury has never turned into a star player, but in recent years has become a solid contributor to multiple teams with a current streak of three seasons of a wRC+ of 110 or better. Any player at any point in the draft carving out a nine (and counting) year career is a successful pick, and while his impact to the Braves was limited he is closing in on 100 career home runs while starting at multiple positions for the Angels.

Evan Phillips - 2015 17th round

Phillips did briefly and unsuccessfully debut for Atlanta, but like Drury his impact has been most felt on other organizations. He is currently a star reliever for the Los Angeles Dodgers, having pitched to a 1.65 ERA over the past two seasons. The Braves initially offloaded him to Baltimore in the deadline deal to get Kevin Gausman as they made their first run to a division title of this current streak, and after failing to catch on in Baltimore or Tampa Bay the Dodgers picked him up and transformed him into one of the most reliable relievers in the league.

Jacob Webb - 2014 18th round

Injuries and inconsistency ensured Webb’s impact was short-lived, but he was a critical piece of the 2019 Braves bullpen. Webb pitched in 36 games for Atlanta, posting a 1.39 ERA that season as the team cruised to a division title. Webb could never reclaim that magic for Atlanta and was designated for assignment in April 2022, where he was then picked up by the Diamonbacks. He never pitched in the major leagues for Arizona, but was picked up by the Angels this past offseason and has thus far been solid with a 2.49 ERA across 20 appearances.

Tommy Hanson - 2005 22nd round

This is going to be a tough one for Braves fans, but when thinking about late round steals Hanson is one of the first names that always come to mind. One of the last notable draft-and-follow picks, Hanson would sign with Atlanta going into 2006 and immediately turned into one of the system’s top prospects. Four years after being drafted and three after signing Hanson debuted for Atlanta in 2009 and was a reliable mid-rotation starter for the next two years. Hanson was a fan favorite, but his shoulder would be his undoing as after his stellar 2010 season he was never the same pitcher again. Hanson last pitched in the major leagues in 2013, and unfortunately passed away in the winter of 2015.

The draft-and-follow system that produced Hanson was abolished by major league baseball in 2007, but a modified version of the system was introduced in the most recent CBA. Players taken after the tenth round can still be signed after the deadline if they attend a junior college in the next season, and can then be signed for up to $225,000 without it counting against the club’s bonus pool.

Evan Gattis - 2010 23rd round

Gattis was a sensation when he came up through the Braves system, being drafted as a 23 year old small college player after spending years away from baseball due to mental health and alcohol and drug abuse struggles. Upon returning to the sport Gattis exploded onto the scene, breaking out in Rome in 2011 before his journey ended with him catching and playing left field for the 2013 division-winning Braves. Gattis had two seasons in the league with Atlanta, posting a 110 wRC+ in 2013 and a 125 wRC+ in 2014 before being shipped to Houston in the rebuild. This traded netted the Braves a future starter in Mike Foltynewicz and Gattis would win a World Series as a consistent contributor to the Astros lineup. Gattis last played in 2018, but was known for his immense raw power and in six short season, only 706 games, Gattis hit 139 home runs and has an isolated power of .228. His best season was in 2016, when he hit 32 home runs for the Astros and had a wRC+ of 121.

Jonny Venters - 2003 30th round

Venters may not have had many seasons in the big leagues, but he was around for a long time and was a dominant force for the Braves bullpen early in his career. Venters languished in the minor league system for seven years after signing straight out of high school, having dealt with his first Tommy John surgery in 2005. Venters got his first shot in Atlanta in 2010 and was an immediately star, making up a key piece of a monster bullpen trio with Craig Kimbrel and Eric O’Flaherty. Venters’s power sinker and wipeout slider allowed him to post a 1.95 ERA in 2010 as he was the bullpen’s workhorse pitching 83 innings. The next year he got even better, getting his ERA down to 1.84 and pitching 88 innings, but this work load would also contribute to his dominance being cut short. Venters struggled with elbow pain in 2012 and after regressing that season he ultimately underwent a second Tommy John surgery in 2013. Venters then underwent a third Tommy John surgery, then tore his UCL again after that and spent years rehabbing and trying to return to the major leagues. Finally in 2018, after nearly six years of recovery, Venters once again found himself on a major league roster in Tampa Bay. He returned to Atlanta shortly after in a trade, and while he was no longer the dominating Venters of old he still pitched 28 games for the Braves and had a 3.54 ERA as they won their first division title in 2018. Venters would be out of baseball after the next season when shoulder issues and poor performance would end his five season major league career that spanned ten years.

Tyler Flowers - 2005 33rd round

The Braves really wanted Flowers, drafting him in both 2004 and 2005 and he finally signed after that second selection. Flowers became one of Atlanta’s top prospects immediately, but never debuted for them as he was part of the trade that got Atlanta pitcher Javier Vazquez. Vazquez went on to have a nearly Cy Young-caliber season for the Braves, and Flowers struggled for much of his early career. Flowers hit his stride with Chicago in 2014 though and finally took over primary catching duties. Atlanta then decided they wanted him all over again, and in the last five years of his career Flowers became a reliable catcher who spent time both as a backup and starter, and also became a mentor for yFounger players in the organization. Flowers was a revelation and posted four straight seasons of 2+ fWAR for the Braves, six seasons straight including his last two with Chicago, and helped bring home division titles in the last three years of his career. Flowers was known as a marvelous pitch framer, defender, and game caller and of the players on this list has had the best career. Flowers played in 12 seasons, 802 games, and posted a career fWAR of 20.4 mostly derived from his brilliant and often underrated abilities behind the plate.

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