The MLB draft is finally here, and in just a few hours the Atlanta Braves will go on the clock for their first round pick. As is tradition, there will be a lot of last second mock drafting and we’ll have this article as a hub for all of them.
Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo each took a pick for the Braves in their mock draft this morning. Both went with familiar names; Callis having the Braves select powerful first baseman Bryce Eldridge at 24th. Interestingly Callis had the Braves passing on Aidan Miller, one of the better prep bats who has a chance to go as high as the top 12 in the draft. Callis also connected Colt Emerson, who doesn’t look like he’ll be there at 24, and college pitchers Ty Floyd and Joe Whitman.
Jonathan Mayo went with Walker Martin at 24, the Colorado prep shortstop who is part of a grouping of highly rated shortstop prospects in this range of the draft. George Lombard Jr. and Sammy Stafura are also mentioned as options. Shortstops have been a popular topic of conversation around this pick for Atlanta, but the Braves have a tendency to get set on a particular player for the first round. If that player doesn’t fall to them they often would rather go a bit down their board for an under slot player that they can then spread money out from. Martin doesn’t seem to have a huge direct connection to Atlanta at least not from recent buzz, even if he is seen as the best of the options available at 24 by the industry.
Law updated his mock draft early this morning to project Parkview High school shortstop Colin Houck to Atlanta at 24. Houck is the best prospect in the state of Georgia and the Braves would probably be thrilled with him at 24, but I think it’s very unlikely he slides to 24. Even in Law’s write up he agreed with that sentiment even if he does think Houck is sliding. Also of note, if he did slide that far the Braves may not even be willing to pay enough to get him as there will be teams sitting in those comp round picks that have much more financial flexibility to float Houck down and give him big money. If Houck was here and the Braves took him it would be a major steal, and although it would be pricy it would set them up with a more premium prospect than they probably imagined they’d get.
Carlos Collazo provided an update to their Mock Draft 4.0, and again stuck with George Lombard Jr at 24th overall. Lombard would be an intriguing power bat for the Braves at 24 and it seems Walker Martin also has his share of buzz here. All of the connections made here are again surrounding bats, primarily prep bats but some college bats like Brock Wilken though that connection is more based on past Braves pick profiles. Wilken may not even be available at 24, but would be the best pure power bat in that range more than likely.
Kiley McDaniel was the first person to project the Braves to take LSU starter Ty Floyd in the first round, and he backs that up by going back to that selection. In McDaniels’s version specifically Colt Emerson and George Lombard Jr. are not available at 23, two players the Braves have been known to covet in this draft. Who the Braves would pass on in this scenario is Walker Martin and Bryce Eldridge, but more significantly Arjun Nimmala. Floyd is a classic Braves mold for a pitching prospect who would fit their system along with saving money to potentially float players down to 59 and beyond.
The final mock draft of the day comes from Eric Longenhagen who has the Braves taken Kent State lefty Joe Whitman. Whitman was phenomenal this year with 100 strikeouts and a 2.56 ERA in 81 innings, and features a solid three pick mix. What is interesting is the guys Longenhagen has Atlanta passing on, including the shortstop trio of Lombard, Stafura, and Martin, Ty Floyd, and again most notably Arjun Nimmala.