The Braves have had a lot of success in the MLB Draft in recent years, so I’m inclined to trust the judgment of Alex Anthopoulos and his scouts. However, I’m going to use their plan to make some predictions, and that plan clearly takes talented college players to help fill a competing team’s system quickly. This strategy has paid off; in 2020, the Braves nabbed talented players Jared Shuster, Spencer Strider, Bryce Elder and Jesse Franklin V. Atlanta went to college again in 2021, with 17 of their 19 signed draft picks coming from college. Check out the Way Too Soon Edition 1.0 below:
Since then, the Braves have earned the 76th pick in the draft for losing Freddie Freeman to Free Agency. I will take it into account here.
Turn 1, choice 20: RHP Tidwell Blade -Tennessee
MLBPipeline mocked Tidwell to Braves in recent mock draftt, and for good reason. This choice just makes too much sense. Tidwell seems like a guy who would start in Mississippi with a chance to move up the system quickly. His pitch mix is very interesting, and it’s advanced for a 20-year-old player. He has the makeup of a potential frontline starter. He fits the mold of an elite college pitcher who has what it takes to work and grow. Playing on the best college baseball team makes it even more appealing. Here’s what MLBPipeline has to say about Tidwell:
Shoulder pain kept him out of action for six weeks and he just joined the Volunteers weekend rotation last week, so there’s still a bit of a question mark here. But he was pretty off at this start and a few more could help prove his health, which means he’s probably going sooner than that.
Tidwell teamed up with Ryan Weather to lead Loretto HS to the Tennessee State Class A Championship in 2017 and finish second in 2018. Now in his second year at Tennessee, Tidwell could join Weathers (selected No. 7 overall by the Padres in 2018) in as a first round take. In his college debut, he won 10 games (the second in school history for a freshman behind R. A. Dickey), including the super-regional clincher over Louisiana State that sent the Volunteers to the College World Series for the first time in 16 years.
Tidwell can fire radar guns with a fastball that parks at 93-96 mph and peaks at 99 with a side arm run, though it also straightens and gets hit when not working in the range. struck. It has a full range of secondary pitches, led by a low-80s slider that hits 88 mph and offers sweep and some depth. Its drop-in 80s change generated the best swing and miss rate (39%) of all its offerings in 2021, and it will also drop into a curve ball in the mid-70s to give left-handers a different look.
After adding 20 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame since entering college, Tidwell is doing a good job of keeping his stuff deep in games, and he still has room to add a little more strength. . He throws strikes but needs to improve the consistency and control of his throws. If he does, he will join Dickey as the only Volunteers pitchers ever selected in the first round.
Round 2, Choice 57: RHP Jonathan Canon – Georgia
I’ve watched Cannon a few times – he’s an absolute steal at this point in the draft. Cannon has posted a 0.69 ERA in three starts in the Cape Cod League, and he’s been dominant for the Bulldogs during his career. The 6’6″ right-hander is currently 9-1 with a 2.38 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 9.67 K/BB ratio. Cannon could go up fast, but for now, this is where MLBPipeline projects it:
Cannon entered 2021 as a potential first-rounder, but missed the first three weeks with mono and was rarely on top form during the season. Although he made three starts with a 0.69 ERA in the Cape Cod League prior to the draft, he was not going to be signable where he was picked and was ultimately not selected. In a down year for college pitchers, he could advance to the first two rounds, but gave clubs a break when he missed two starts in April with a front stretch. arm.
Cannon maintains a heavy 92-96mph fastball when he’s at his best, but his radiator was sitting at 91-94 with less life and was hit hard in 2021. The biggest difference for him this spring has been a improved cutter that parks in the upper 80s and regularly misses bats. His low-80s slider looks sharper than last year, though he’s lost some confidence in his mid-80s sinking shift and mostly shelved his curveball.
Strong and physical, Cannon keeps his 6-foot-6 frame in synch and consistently hits the strike zone, walking just one batter in his first six starts this spring. Now that he has regained his old radiator and developed an outside pitch, he could be a mid-rotation option. His strike throw gives him a high floor as at least a No. 4 or 5 starter.
Compensation Choice 76: OF colby thomas — Mercier
The Gainesville native is having a huge year for the Bears, slashing .325/.451/.734/1.184 with 17 homers and 11 stolen bases. Thomas has an incredible athletic and defensive profile, something the Braves have managed to develop in their outfield. He’s another home run pick at 76 if available.
A 37th-round pick by the Orioles from a Georgia high school in 2019, Thomas led the Southern Conference with five homers in 16 games as a Mercer rookie during the shortened college season the following spring. He became too aggressive at the plate and struggled throughout 2021 before starting to get back on track in the Cape Cod League. He’s shown more discipline this spring and fought his way through the first three rounds, making him the Bears’ top prospect since Kyle Lewis finished 11th overall in 2016.
Thomas is a challenge for the NCAA Division I homer now that he’s chasing fewer pitches out of bounds and missing home plate. His right-handed swing may still get too high, but his combination of bat speed, strength, and loft gives him far above average raw power. He does a better job of counting and walking, which leads to optimism that he will hit for a decent average while posting a healthy on-base percentage.
One of the top athletes in the 2022 varsity class, Thomas is a solid runner at plus with arm strength to match. He has good sense for stealing bases and covers more ground than a typical right fielder. Scouts believe he has the speed and instinct to maybe play center, although he didn’t get that opportunity with the Bears.
Round 3, choice 96: LHP Nate Savino — Virginia
Savino is a guy I’ve watched a lot this season. He’s gotten off to a good start for Virginia, but he’s had a few rocky starts over the past few weeks. Either way, when Savino is on, he’s one of the best pitchers in all of college baseball — just look at his complete shutout against Duke. He can work both sides of the plate and consistently throws shots with good movement. If he can refine his lead and add speed, it will be a pitch that will give any hitter – minor or major leaguers.
When Savino was a senior in high school, he was thought to be one of the nation’s prep lefties, one who could have been a high first-round pick in the 2020 draft. Determined to attend the University of Virginia, he graduated early, in December 2019, and headed straight for Charlottesville. He didn’t progress as much as many had hoped in his first two springs on campus, but generated some buzz with things picking up last fall and at the start of Season 22, but he had some hard to maintain.
A little more speed to his fastball and a little more sharpness to his slider helped Savino’s stock rise in the early spring at Virginia. His fastball averaged over 91 mph this spring, up from just 87.4 mph in 2021, and his slider soared to 81.6 mph from just over 78 mph last year while also incorporating a change efficient. This led to more missed bats as he nearly doubled his season 21 strikeout rate.
Savino has been a solid hitter, but as the season turned to April, however, Savino’s business shrank a bit and scouts were seeing more 88-92 mph fastballs than those hitting 95. led to a rocky start, leading scouts to wonder who the real Savino was. His cap isn’t what many predicted in high school, but if the early spring version is real, he has the potential to be a major league rookie.