The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

JULY  2009

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







June Draft

By Jerry Keys

Can any Atlanta Braves fan identify who Michael Minor is? How about Matt Butler? Maybe Tyler Houston? These three players were Atlanta's top draft picks in the June drafts of 2009, 1999, and 1989. There have been several different types of drafts throughout the years but the most recent one, the June draft, is the main one today.

Atlanta has traditionally sought after a top tier high school talent as their top selection but this year they chose a college talent. The Braves are not always guaranteed a 1st round selection. A team can trade away their 1st round selection for a future 1st round selection, or offer it to a team who has a star veteran Atlanta thinks can help bring them a pennant now (aka trading away the future for today).

The most recent top pick of Atlanta's to make the big leagues is Joey Devine. He was Atlanta's top selection in 2005. The last current Brave to be a top selection and be promoted to the big leagues is Jeff Francoeur in 2002. And the last 1st overall pick of Atlanta to go on to a stellar career is current Brave, Chipper Jones (#1 pick in 1990).

Jerry Keys

Draft picks are similar to trades between two or more major league teams. You really can not say who got the best end of the deal until years later. In the 1966 draft, the overall #1 selection was Steve Chilcott, to the New York Mets. The #2 selection belonged to the Kansas City (later Oakland) A's. They chose Reggie Jackson. By 1969, the debate on who was the better overall player was decided (Jackson clouted 47 dingers).

Due to supplemental selections (given to teams who lose free agents and taken away for signing them) and via trade, the Braves have had zero 1st round selections (recently 2004) and as many as four (2000). Judging major league talent while many are still in high school is an ardent achievement. The last top pick by Atlanta to make an All-Star squad was Chipper.

The key to a successful scouting department is not only finding major league talent but unearthing All-Star caliber talent. Several star top picks for Atlanta who went on to star careers were Dale Murphy (1974), Bob Horner (1978), Kent Mercker (1986), and Steve Avery (1988). Some players had tremendous promise but never got a legitimate shot at proving their talents (Ken Smith 1976, Brad Komminsk 1979, Mike Kelly 1991). And some were traded for the present and blossomed in the future (Duane Ward 1982, Jason Marquis 1996, Adam Wainwright 2000).

Due to the advent of free agency, several teams wish to buy immediate talent and forgo the farm system. Current Atlanta manager Bobby Cox was their manager in the late 1970's / early 1980's and brought along a solid nucleus of talent who eventually won the 1982 pennant and challenged for it the following year. Cox left for Toronto after 1981 but returned to Atlanta in the late 1980's to rebuild the farm system.

The chart on this page is a compiled list of former Brave players who were acquired through the draft and either went on to productive careers or were drafted very late and managed to see major league play.

There are most likely several players you expected to see there. With the influx of talent from the Caribbean, Latin America and South America, almost all are signed individually (they do not enter the June draft) and to smaller signing bonuses. In addition, many players are selected out of high school; therefore it is best to wait until ten years after they were drafted to label a (top) draft pick a bust or not.

It does seem disheartening for Atlanta scouts to spend all their efforts on selecting players and roughly 5-10% of each draft ever wears a major league uniform. And many of these are players who chose not to sign coming out of high school and try to better their draft position by playing a year or more in college.

A few players who chose not to sign with Atlanta and test their luck by entering college were Randy Johnson (1982, 4th round), Jay Buhner (1983, 9th), Steve Finley (1986, 11th), Tim Salmon (1986, 18th), Ben McDonald (1986, 27th), and Jose Cruz (1992, 15th).

Fewer teams rely solely on the draft; many are looking to foreign countries for less expensive talent. Other teams acquire talent through free agency and/or trading the future for today. Once Atlanta built a solid contender they were guilty of trading the future for today.

Days before the start of the 1997 season, the Braves traded Jermaine Dye to the Kansas City Royals for two role players. Both players were pivotal in Atlanta's pennant winning teams of 1997 and 1998. Dye is still active today, swatting over 300 homers and driving in 1000+ runs. After the Braves won their 1st pennant (since 1969) in 1982, they were attempting to repeat the following year and traded future stars (Brett) Butler and Brook Jacoby for Len Barker.

Barker did not pitch effectively down the stretch and Atlanta lost the NL West to Los Angeles. After 1983 Atlanta did not contend for a pennant until 1991. During those seven years, Atlanta turned to signing veteran players in hopes of trading them for the future. The most notoriously lop-sided trade during those years was the 1987 trade with Detroit. Detroit received Doyle Alexander, Atlanta got John Smoltz.

During the 1990's Atlanta changed courses and traded future stars for present rewards. The key to succeeding is not to give up your best prospects (see: Barker trade). The Braves traded for closers down the stretch in 1991 and 1992, receiving Alejandro Pena and Jeff Reardon and did not give up any future stars for them. They rolled the dice and traded three coveted prospects (none went on to stardom) for Fred McGriff in 1993. Three veterans were obtained during their 1995 championship season, Pena (again), Luis Polonia and Mike Devereaux and eluded giving away any future talent.

In 1996 they picked up ex-Brave Terry Pendleton and future 20-game winner Denny Neagle. Atlanta did not give up any future stars for Pendleton. They almost got away with getting Neagle without giving up stars of the future. The first two players in the trade would never reach stardom. The third player, the player to be named later, was Jason Schmidt.

Trades just as draft picks, may appear one-sided at first. It is difficult to place final validity on trades or drafts until years later.

Ralph Garr 1967 Round 3          Dusty Baker 1967 Round 26
Biff Pocoroba 1971 Round 17    Rick Camp 1974 Round 7
Glenn Hubbard 1975 Round 20  Bruce Benedict 1976 Round 5
Steve Bedrosian 1978 Round 3  Gerald Perry 1978 Round 11
Brett Butler 1979 Round 23        Zane Smith 1982 Round 3
Mark Lemke 1983 Round 27      Ron Gant 1983 Round 4
Tom Glavine 1984 Round 2        Al Martin 1985 Round 8
Dave Justice 1985 Round 4      Tommy Greene 1985 Round 1
Mike Stanton 1987 Round 13    Mark Wohlers 1988 Round 8
Ryan Klesko 1989 Round 5        Tony Graffanino 1990 Round 10
Jason Schmidt 1991 Round 8    Kevin Millwood 1993 Round 11
Jermaine Dye 1993 Round 17    Wes Helms 1994 Round 10
Marcus Giles 1996 Round 53      Mark DeRosa 1996 Round 7
Horacio Ramirez 1997 Round 5

Unless you see a trade such as the Philadelphia Phillies obtaining Ivan DeJesus and sending Larry Bowa to the Chicago Cubs.

It was a veteran shortstop for veteran shortstop trade. The Phillies even threw in a boney kid to sweeten the deal. That kid was Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg.