June 6, 2009 at 12:58 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Draft, Pitching, Player Analysis, Prospects, Scouting
The Braves have a luxury they haven’t had in a long time. Due to last year’s poor performance, the Braves will select 7th in the 2009 MLB First Year Player (Rule 4) Draft. This is the highest that they have made a selection since 1991. They picked second that year. The year before they had selected Chipper Jones with the number 1 overall pick. And that has seemed to work out alright.
Anyway, selecting 7th is a unique opportunity to bring in a premium prospect. The Braves have made it known that they will select a pitcher with the 7th overall pick. And there are 4 legitimate possibilities. Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Aaron Crow, and Tanner Scheppers will most probably be gone by pick 7, so of the 4 we are virtually guaranteed to be able to select one of them. So we’ll take a look at our 4 possibilities.
1) The Dream Pick: Tyler Matzek.
Matzek is a 6’3″ 185 LB Left-Handed Pitcher from Capistrano Valley H.S. in Mission Viejo, California. His best pitch is his fastball, which sits in the 90-93 range but can reach 95 on occasion. He throws a big curveball, a slider with a lot of break and tilt, and change-up. His delivery resembles that of Tim Hudson, a sort of drop-and-drive delivery with a 3/4 arm slot, as does his pitching style. He is the most polished of the high school pitchers in this years’ draft and really knows how to pitch. If he makes it 7 picks, which I’m far from certain he will, the Braves will not pass on him.
2) The Locical One: Zach Wheeler.
The Braves love to take high school pitchers from the southeast in the early rounds. So Wheeler makes more than a ton of sense. He’s from East Paulding H.S. in Dallas, GA. He’s a 6’4″ 170 LB right-hander with plenty of room for his frame to fill out. He’s the definition of a projectable arm. His fastball sits in the 92-94 range and can get up to 96. With a ton of life. He throws a sharp breaking slider as well. He hasn’t shown much feel for a change-up, and when it comes out it’s more like a BP fastball than a true off-speed offering, as it usually clocks at around 88 MPH. Not nearly as polished as Matzek, but a player that the Braves feel like it’d be appropriate to take a chance on. As a local high school arm, he figures to be very sign-able.
3) The Other Flamethrower: Shelby Miller.
I meant the other flamethrower, because the first flamethrower in the draft is obviously consensus number 1 pick, Stephen Strasburg. Miller is a 6’3″ 195 LB right-handed pitcher from Brownwood H.S. in Brownwood, TX. He throws a fastball that can reach 97 and a sharply breaking curveball. While he doesn’t throw a change-up, scouts believe his delivery and arm action would be very conducive to adding one. He profiles as a number 1 starter type, but like most H.S. arms, he needs a lot of polish. I don’t believe the Braves would select him if Matzek or Wheeler were available.
4) The College Arm: Alex White.
White is a 6’3″ 200 LB right-handed pitcher from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He’s a 3-pitch pitcher, with a fastball that sits 91-93 with great life on it and can hit 95. He throws a sharp slider that he primarily uses as a chase pitch. And he throws a split-fingered pitch. Being a UNC product, he’s very intelligent. He has good feel for the game. That being said, the tools aren’t there like they are for some of the H.S. arms, and I can’t see the Braves selecting White unless Matzek, Wheeler, and Miller have all been taken.
So there’s your preview. Everyone throw some salt over your right shoulder, cross your fingers, toes, arms, and legs, and hope Matzek makes it to number 7 on Tuesday.