We continue with our series reviewing the 2020 MLB Draft with some help from our FanSided colleagues covering the Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves, entering their next window of contention, figure to be a factor in the NL East for years to come. That did not stop the Braves on Wednesday and Thursday from adding future talent to a farm system that has endured many recent graduations from the likes of Dansby Swanson, Ronald Acuna Jr, Ozzie Albies, and Max Fried among others in the 2020 MLB Draft.
All in all, the Braves would have four selections; meaning less money to get creative with; however, it sounds like Braves Country is satisfied with what they were given on draft night. We borrowed Jake Mastroianni from tomahawktake.com to get his thoughts on how Atlanta fared:
The Braves only had four picks, which also meant they didn’t have a lot of money to work with. For what little they did have to work with, I thought they did pretty well getting some underslot guys who have some upside like Jared Shuster and Spencer Strider. Their 5th round pick Bryce Elder, might end up being the best of the group as I think he’s a pretty safe bet to be a mid-to-back of the rotation starter for a while in the big leagues.
As limited as the Braves were, it does appear they decided to take the under-slot route in the first round with Jared Shuster at 25th overall–a left-handed pitcher out of Wake Forest. Known mostly as a crafty lefty early in his college career, Shuster had a velocity bump during the Cape Cod League that transferred into his shortened 2020 season. The velocity bump did not produce an equal bump in draft stock, though, as Shuster came in ranked 62nd on Fangraphs THE BOARD.
At 97th overall, Atlanta would go with a Michigan Man in Jesse Franklin, who was an outfielder for UM. Writes Mastroianni in his article grading each draft pick, “Scouts say he has the athleticism to stick in center field, but if he continues to get bigger he’ll do just fine in a corner spot. I envision Franklin potentially being a corner outfield bat that plays above-average defense and hits .270 with 30-plus home runs.” That type of potential is certainly a win.
Atlanta would go with all college players throughout the draft; and in the fourth round, they would select Clemson right-handed pitcher Spencer Strider. Strider was an arm many felt would go undrafted–but the fact that he signed for full slot value suggests the Braves actually saw something with him and the selection wasn’t merely for cost-saving purposes. Strider missed all of the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery but shows regained velocity and improved command on his secondary pitches in his limited 2020 season. His 4.50 ERA over the shortened season should not spook Atlanta as the sample size is simply too small. His last start in March against Boston College, Strider would give up four runs in just 2.1 innings–undoubtedly skewing his numbers.
Despite a bit of an underwhelming pick in the first round, though, they would add a high floor college talent in the fifth round with Texas pitcher Bryce Elder. Elder was ranked 70th by Baseball America in their draft, so getting him at 156 overall speaks to the value they achieved. In a shortened 2020 campaign, Elder pitched to a 2.08 ERA while striking out over a batter per inning. Mastroianni cites signability as the reason for Elder’s fall, however, the Braves have already inked Elder to an $850,000 signing bonus ($336,000 slot value).
Like Detroit with prep infielder Colt Keith, the Braves’ biggest value came in the fifth round, although Elder is significantly more polished on the mound coming from Texas. For a year in which draft money and picks have been shifted around completely, the Braves’ ability to stretch their value through the entire draft is impressive. Special thanks to Jake Mastroianni for sharing his thoughts. Follow him on Twitter @ShortStopBall and the Braves’ FanSided account @TomahawkTakeFS.