Braves stockpile fast arms, feet in Draft
Bounty of college players breaks with previous prep trend
ATLANTA -- As expected, the Braves collected plenty of arms in the 2009 First Year Player Draft. Less expected was the abundance of speed and college players that the Braves ended up hauling in when all was said and done after the third and final day of selections.
Roy Clark became the Braves' director of scouting in 2000. In five of his first six seasons with the team, he selected at least seven high school players in the first 10 rounds. He chose high school prospects with his first nine selections in both 2000 and 2003.
However, that trend has shifted in the past two years. This season, the Braves selected just three high school players in the first 10 rounds and took college players with their first eight picks.
"A big part of it is signability," Clark said. "Over the past few years, it's become harder and harder to sign the high school guys. These colleges are doing a great job of selling their programs. In turn, we've turned more to the junior college and college ranks."
The first two selections were a pair of promising arms in left-hander Mike Minor from Vanderbilt and right-hander David Hale from Princeton. In fact, seven of the Braves' first 10 picks were hurlers, with six of them coming from the college ranks.
The Braves also addressed perhaps one of the organization's most glaring needs. By selecting shortstop Mycal Jones from Miami-Dade College and outfielder Kyle Rose from Northwest Shoals Community College, the Braves chose two of the faster players in the Draft.
Both are considered tremendous athletes and possess the kind of raw speed that is lacking at the big league level and throughout the Minor Leagues.
"One of the things we don't have a lot of in the Minor Leagues and really at the Major League level is burners," Clark said. "This year, we were able to pick up a lot of those guys. Jones can fly, and so can Rose."
Rose recorded a 6.3-second 60-yard dash time, which can only be described as premium speed. Jones, a 5-foot-10 infielder, also possesses great speed, and the Braves view him as someone with the potential to be an everyday shortstop.
Another emphasis for the Braves this season was the addition of not only quality arms, but power arms. Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson is one of the few true power arms to come through the organization in years, and fireballers seemed to be plentiful in this year's Draft.
"The one thing that you can't do is go against the strengths of the Draft," Clark said. "What our emphasis has always been is power arms and power bats."
Adam Rosenberg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.