It was an exciting time last night for baseball nerds. The 2014 First Year Player Draft got under way with the first two rounds of the 40-round draft.
The Braves lost their first round pick (24) after signing Ervin Santana, but added a pick in the supplemental first round (32) for losing Brian McCann in free agency.
These first and second round (66) picks by Atlanta are both young prep players with loads of projection in them, and represent two very good picks by the Braves scouting department.
1st Round (32): Braxton Davidson, OF @B_Davidson06 — A corner outfielder, Davidson’s biggest asset is his above-average hit tool. He has a good feel for the strike zone, and will spray the ball to all parts of the field. That ability to make solid contact extends to his power, which should continue to develop even more over time. Here is what Minor League Ball’s Matt Garrioch said about Davidson’s power:
His raw power is not the best in this draft class but his usable power is. Of all the players in this class that can put a charge into the ball, Davidson does it the most consistently and with the most ease.
That contact-first approach has already drawn some comparisons to Freddie Freeman.
Some reports call Davidson a safe bat, owing that assessment to their belief that he will hit in the Majors. This safe approach also comes with a higher ceiling than most, as he should add more power once the Braves get him into their strength and conditioning program.
Baseball America ranked him 35th on their pre-draft board. ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him 16th overall, and Minor League Ball’s Garrioch ranked him 17th. Some of that disparity in ranking could be because of his positional uncertainty.
He played mostly first base in high school, but the Braves will put him in the outfield where reports on him are mixed. He’s an athletic kid who should be able to stick at a corner outfield spot, and his strong throwing arm should be able to play in right field.
This was a great pick by the Braves. Their minor league system is lean on talented hitters, especially outfielders. While it’s probably too ambitious to think that Davidson will be ready by the time Jason Heyward and Justin Upton could potentially become free agents after 2015, it’s not too radical to believe that Davidson could be ready at some point in 2017.
2nd Round (66): Garrett Fulenchek, RHP @GarrettWayne007 — A tall, 6-foot-4, athletic pitcher. He throws a sinking low-to-mid-90s fastball from a three-quarters arm slot, and complements that with an average slider and a developing changeup. The Braves system is great at developing off-speed pitches on players, so I have confidence that those average pitches can grow into something more.
This pick is a lot about projectability, as is the case with many high school pitchers. Fulenchek’s big, tall frame should be able to add more velocity while remaining durable.
BA ranked him 54th on their draft board, Law had him 77th, and Garrioch had him 61st. Much like their first round pick, the Braves seem to have gotten good value out of this pick.