2011 MLB Draft: Atlanta Braves
The Braves looked almost entirely to the college ranks this year.
1) Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Florida State: Exceptionally polished, average velocity but an excellent changeup and improved slider. Won't need long in the minors, could be a number three starter if all goes according to plan. 12-2, 2.09 ERA, 130/21 K/BB in 120 IP.
2) Nick Ahmed, SS, Connecticut: Solid all-around, very strong throwing arm, average range at shortstop but should have the instincts to stick there, reliable. Opinions about his bat are mixed. .326/.425/.437, 23 steals.
3) Kyle Kubitza, 3B, Texas State: Strong power, strong plate discipline, bat is polished. Has range and arm strength for third base but perhaps not the reliability. Hit .310/.446/.558, 54 walks, but an .872 fielding percentage.
4) J.R. Graham, RHP, Santa Clara: 95-100 MPH fastball, but lasted to the fourth round because he's just 6-foot (not a good reason if you ask me) and because his breaking ball is mediocre (a better reason, but that could be fixable). 3.34 ERA, 45/9 K/BB in 62 IP. Note low K/IP rate.
5) Nick DeSantiago, C, Blinn JC: Raw defensively but some scouts like his bat, should hit for average and has some power potential. No four-year commitment.
6) Mark Lamm, RHP, Vanderbilt: Another component on deep Vandy staff, good size at 6-4, 215, throws 90-93 MPH, good slider. A senior, could be a bargain. 2.03 ERA, 20/3 K/BB in 27 IP.
7) Cody Martin, RHP, Gonzaga: Another senior, low 90s heat, good slider, excellent stats. 0.86 ERA, 12 saves, 63/19 K/BB in 52 IP.
8) Tommy La Stella, 2B, Coastal Carolina: Might as well be a senior as a fourth-year junior. Scouts don't like his glove at second base but he has a good swing and good stats. .398/.476/.680, 14 homers, 32 walks, 18 strikeouts.
9) Chase Larsson, OF, Cameron: Comes from a small school in Oklahoma, led NCAA Division II in several offensive categories including SLG. Good power in the bat, other tools are mediocre. A junior.
10) Logan Robbins, SS, Western Kentucky: Good arm, enough range for shortstop, scouts point to flaws in his swing, which kept him from earlier rounds. Hit .286/.371/.427, 20 steals.
OTHERS OF NOTE: SS Seth Moranda (11th round, California HS) was the first prep player picked by the Braves this year. He has a strong arm and athleticism and is committed to Fresno State. RHP Navery Moore (14th round, Vanderbilt) recovered from Tommy John, throws hard, and had a good year as Vandy's closer, but a mediocre breaking ball may keep him from closing as a pro. He was rated a second-round talent pre-draft and his drop here is a mystery. RHP Matt Kimbrel (32nd round, Shelton State CC) is Craig Kimbrel's brother. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is a good summer follow who might boost his stock.
SUMMARY: The Braves used to be very high school and upside oriented, but have been moving more toward the college ranks in recent drafts, culminating in this group which is virtually all college and seemed to eschew upside for signability and cost. Gilmartin won't need much time in the minors, I like Ahmed, and Graham is very interesting, but this draft is more likely to produce role players than stars. It seems likely that financial restrictions played a key role here given the bargain hunting in the middle rounds.