2008 Draft Slot: 40th overall (Supplemental first round)
Top Pick: Brett DeVall, LHP, Florida high school
Best Pick: Zeke Spruill, RHP, Alabama high school (2nd round, 70th overall)
Keep an Eye On: Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Georgia community college (Third round)
Notes: The organization focused on pitching in the early rounds, taking three prep hurlers (Brett DeVall, Tyler Stovall, and Zeke Spruill) and one southern community college pitcher (Craig Kimbrel) before the fourth round. Kimbrel had a nice start to the year and earned a quick promotion to high-A but his control collapsed and he’s walked 18 batters in 10.2 innings of work (with 15 Ks too). Stovall is still in extended spring training, while DeVall was assigned to low-A in May. Spruill has been with low-A since the beginning of the year and he has a 1.91 ERA (2.73 FIP) in 42.1 innings.
2007 Draft Slot: 14th overall
Top Pick: Jason Heyward, OF, Georgia high school
Best Pick: Jason Heyward
Worst Pick: Jon Gilmore, 3B, Iowa high school (Supplemental first round, 33rd overall)
Notes: Jon Gilmore helped the Braves acquire Javier Vazquez from the Chicago White Sox, but the infielder has yet to hit more than .200 above rookie ball in two tries. Along with Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman (78th overall) has the chance to develop into a special offensive player. This was a very unusual draft for the Braves because the organization usually focuses on pitching, but it stayed true to its roots by drafting mostly prep players.
2006 Draft Slot: 24th overall
Top Pick: Cody Johnson, 1B, Florida high school
Best Pick: Cole Rohrbough, LHP, Nevada community college (22nd round)
Worst Pick: Cody Johnson
Notes: With seven picks in the first three rounds, the organization mixed pitching and hitting while taking just one college player. The club shocked a lot of people by taking Cody Johnson with its first pick, as the youngster was known for his massive power – and high strikeout totals in high school. The club has had a lot of bad luck with the prep pitchers it took early in the draft. Both RHP Cory Rasmus (Colby’s brother) and LHP Steve Evarts have had surgery, and Evarts has also had disciplinary issues (which haunted him in high school too). LHP Jeff Locke (51st overall) has had the best luck (and success) and is currently holding his own in high-A. LHP Cole Rohrbough has been slowed by injuries this year, but he was an absolute steal in the 22nd round.
2009 Draft Slot: Seventh overall
Draft Preference (2006-08): Prep pitchers, then high school hitters
MLB Club Need: Relief pitching, Outfield
Organizational Need: Third base, Shortstop, Second base
Organizational Strength: Right-handed pitching, Left-handed pitching
Notes: The club has a lot of pitching depth, especially in the low minors. Triple-A starter Tommy Hanson (2005 draft) is probably the best of the bunch even though he’s been passed over for a promotion a couple of times. There is not a ton of outfield depth, but there are a few very promising young outfielders like Jordan Schafer (currently in Atlanta) and Heyward.