On Day 2, Braves draft several college stars
Atlanta takes University of Georgia lefty Wood in second round
ATLANTA -- Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio received a pleasant surprise as he prepared to make the club's second-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday. Sitting atop their draft board, ready to be plucked, was hard-throwing left-hander Alex Wood from the University of Georgia.
Pairing Wood with high school right-hander Lucas Sims, whom the Braves took Monday night with the 21st overall pick, was too much to pass up.
"Quite honestly, we were a little surprised he was still there and very happy to be able to get him at this point," DeMacio said.
DeMacio said it was also a pleasant surprise to find Sims, who went to Brookwood High School in suburban Atlanta, available when the Braves picked Monday night. Sims is a hard-throwing right-hander who DeMacio said has the stuff to become a top-of-the-rotation starter.
"We think his stuff is good enough to potentially be that," DeMacio said. "I don't want to put too much pressure on the kid. Tough enough as the No. 1 pick."
Sims, who is committed to play baseball at Clemson next year, said Monday he expects to sign quickly with the Braves. DeMacio said that was his expectation as well.
Sims was one of three high school seniors the Braves took in their first four picks. As the Draft continued Tuesday afternoon, however, the Braves trended more toward college players, taking five in a row at one point.
DeMacio noted it was part of an industry-wide trend as teams adjust to the new spending restrictions on the Draft. For the first time this year, teams were given a specified pool of money for signing bonuses that they cannot exceed without exacting stiff penalties, such as a tax or the forfeiture of future picks.
"There were a lot more [college] seniors going off the board early," he said. "The slot stuff has a lot to do with what's going on now. So that's been the interesting part of the Draft, seeing how clubs are drafting based on the pool money."
As the draft wound down Tuesday, DeMacio helped to break down the Braves' top choices.
Second round, LHP Alex Wood, Georgia
Wood is a hard-throwing left-hander who was dominant in the Southeastern Conference. He went 7-3 with a 2.73 ERA this spring and struck out 100 in 102 1/3 innings. His fastball reaches the mid-90s regularly.
While Wood is able to generate good velocity, his delivery is unorthodox. After landing on his right leg, he takes a little hop backwards. But it doesn't affect his command, as evidenced by his 21 walks in more than 100 innings pitched this year, and DeMacio isn't concerned by it.
"Doesn't affect us one bit," he said. "He throws strikes."
Third round, C Bryan de la Rosa, Olympic Heights (Fla.) High School
The Braves selected their first position player of the Draft with their third-round pick, grabbing de la Rosa, a native of Puerto Rico. He is shorter than most catchers, but is known for being strong defensively.
"He's about 5-9, 5-10, but he really catch and he can really throw," DeMacio said.
De la Rosa is committed to Florida State.
Fourth round, CF Justin Black, Billings (Mont.) High School
Black attends Billings High School, which does not have a high school baseball team. To make up for that, he has played with the Langley Blaze, a club team in British Columbia, this spring.
DeMacio said two Braves scouts drove 13 hours to watch Black play this year. They also brought him to Turner Field for a workout before the Draft. They came away impressed with his power and speed combination.
"We like the ability to run and the size and strength that goes along with that, which is hard to find," DeMacio said. "He'll be a little bit more of a projection for us."
Fifth round, RF Blake Brown, Missouri
Brown has played center field at Missouri, but the Braves took him as a right fielder. DeMacio said Brown was a good athlete and he thinks the transition to right field will be easy for him.
Brown was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in back-to-back seasons. He hit .302 with 10 home runs this spring and led the Tigers with 17 stolen bases. He sometimes has trouble making contact, however, and struck out 61 times in 225 at bats this season.
"It was a power thing," DeMacio said. "Corner outfielder, right-handed hitter, which we have lacked."
Sixth round, C Josh Elander, Texas Christian
The Braves made Elander the second catcher they drafted in the first six rounds, jumping on his power bat. DeMacio reiterated concerns that have dogged Elander throughout his career about his catching ability, but was optimistic Elander would improve behind the plate.
"His hands are soft," DeMacio said. "And if his hands are soft, that means he can receive. Now you got to work in the other areas. The bat was instrumental."
Elander has hit well throughout his career. He is hitting .316 with a .442 on-base percentage and 10 home runs this season. He has helped the Horned Frogs reach the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament this weekend.
Seventh round, LHP David Starn, Kent State
The Braves joined in on an industry-wide run on college pitching in the second half of the day's selections. David Starn, a senior left-hander, has been a big part of the Golden Flashes' deep runs in the NCAA Tournament the last two years. He will likely start the first game of Kent State's Super Regionals matchup at Oregon on Saturday.
Starn owns the Golden Flashes career strikeout and wins records and is 10-3 with a 2.01 ERA this season. He has 118 strikeouts in 107 2/3 innings and was named the Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year.
Starn doesn't throw hard, his fastball often topping out in the upper-80s, but he is able to effectively mix his changeup and curveball to keep batters off balance.
Eighth round, RHP David Peterson, College of Charleston
Ninth round, RHP Steven Schils, Florida Tech
10th round, 3B Mike Dodig, Columbia Green CC, N.Y.
11th round, C Levi Borders, Winter Haven (Fla.) H.S.
12th round, RF Connor Lien, Olympia (Fla.) High School
13th round, RHP Nathan Hyatt, Appalachian State
14th round, C Tyler Tewell, Appalachian State
15th round, RHP Alexander Wilson, Wofford
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.