We are now six days away from the 2023 MLB draft, and the Atlanta Braves will be sitting at picks number 24, 59, and 70 on day one of the draft (barring a trade). There is a heavy tilt in mock drafts towards position player talent in those ranges, but the Braves haven’t taken a position player with their first pick since 2019.
There seems to be a trend for the Braves to be projected to take position players in the first round. Overall do you think this is the best strategy for this specific class and what areas of depth do you think the Braves should try to pick from going past the first round?
Matt - I believe this is the best strategy for the Braves this year based on where they pick, not to mention needing to fill the system with bats more than arms. I wouldn’t take a bat just because they need bats more than arms, but the way this draft sets up it appears the strength of the draft will be bats when the Braves get on the clock next month. I don’t think they should “target” any areas so much as taking the best player available. I’d love to see a shortstop taken in the first few rounds that will stick at short, but I also wouldn’t force that pick if a better player was available.
Brady — Honestly, I do think this is the best strategy given the depth in the class when it comes to position players. Now, what odds do I give that the Braves actually stick to this strategy? I’d say 30 percent or so. Not knocking the position players in this draft, but just examining Atlanta’s front office strategies in the past, they’ve typically shied away from position players who will sign at full or overslot, giving them more money to spend later in the draft. And most of the positional guys projected in their pick range are prep guys who, I would imagine, would need to be signed at or overslot to keep them away from their college commitment. I hope, for the farm system’s sake, that they take a higher-upside guy like a shortstop, third baseman or center fielder. They did a good job last year addressing the pitching depth at the lower levels with guys like Owen Murphy, JR Ritchie and Cole Phillips. Now, it’s time to do the same thing with position players.
Devin— I 1000% think this is the best strategy for this years class. It is extremely deep in position players and it is almost a certainty that the best one or two players on the board at the time of the Braves selection will be position players. I don’t love targeting specific positions when drafting in baseball simply because most prospects are 3+ years away from debuting in the MLB and so much can change on an MLB roster in that time frame. However, if I had to say I’d love to see them target middle infielders. The two reasons for this being more often than not they are the most in demand prospects in trade talks and seem to have the easiest time transitioning to other positions like third base and centerfield over their development timeline.
Garrett — I agree that the depth in position players in that late first round range makes it the easy route to go with, and the Braves are clearly in need of offensive talent there. It seems the Braves target offense more in the international market than in the draft, but that tends to be where the value in these drafts has been and the overall strategy is value early and throughout. There are a number of prep shortstops that should be available at 24 and even some interesting options at 59 and 70 they could go there and I think really fill that void. Beyond that I think the draft strategy has been to go with as many high level athletes on both sides of the ball that they can find and so far given the success I see no reason to go away from that. Going into that middle range of the draft you start really getting into the pitching prospects that have that sort of athleticism but major red flags to keep them from going up high. Best player available is always the play and I think in this case there is a good chance of back-loading more of the pitching prospects, taking on some reliever risk, and trying to capitalize on arm talent options. For all of the starting pitching the Braves have they have next to no minor league depth among relievers so players with the raw stuff to profile in either role could give them extra value.