The Atlanta Braves were extremely fortunate to select Jeff Francoeur (Parkview HS) with their first round pick in the 2002 draft. Francoeur was a player who was considered top five talent; several teams in the top five contacted him, but he wanted to be a Brave.
Francoeur told all other teams besides Atlanta that if they drafted him, he'd go to college at Clemson. Other teams passed, and Atlanta was thrilled a hometown kid wanted to wear a Braves uniform.
On the surface, it would seem the Braves 2002 draft was all about Jeff Francoeur. No matter what the other picks do in the future, the ability for the Braves to get a top five talent at pick 23 was unprecedented.
But a closer look at the Braves 2002 draft presents a case that it has the potential to be just as solid as the 2000 draft. The Rome Braves are off to the best start of any of Atlanta's top four minor league teams, and nine players on the Rome roster are from last season's draft. Plus, James Jurries, a 6th round pick, is already doing very well in AA for Greenville.
As we prepare for the 2003 draft on Tuesday, here is a review of the 2002 draft.
JEFF FRANCOEUR - 1st Round
Francoeur went to big league camp in February and impressed everyone. He was not overmatched, not overwhelmed. He was everything Braves scouts predicted when they made him the top pick a year ago. Francoeur's makeup makes him special. He is extremely confident, loves playing the game, and loves being a Brave. So far in Rome, Jeff's hitting .279 with 6 home runs and 23 RBI. He's also stolen 8 bases and struck out only 23 times in 204 at bats. The Braves do not have to rush Francoeur, and you can expect him to spend the entire season in Rome. His test in Myrtle Beach next season will be interesting.
DAN MEYER - Supplemental Round
The surprise pick of the draft was Dan Meyer, and so far, he's showing everyone why the Braves selected him so high. Meyer is a very advanced, intelligent pitcher who would probably be in high-A in any other organization. Meyer is part of a tremendous staff in Rome. He's 3-2 on the season with an ERA of 2.94. His low walk total (7 in 10 starts) may present the case that he could even survive at a higher level. But the Braves are currently packed in Myrtle Beach, so it's unlikely Meyer will be promoted this season.
BRIAN MCCANN - 2nd Round
McCann might have been thought of as just another Georgia selection, but he is also showing why the Braves had so much confident in his abilities. McCann is hitting .284 with a team leading 7 home runs and 21 RBI. Rome Manager Rocket Wheeler has been even more complimentary of Brian's defensive skills. Brian has been very solid behind the plate, and his pitchers are very happy with how he calls a game. This kid has grown up around baseball. His father was a coach at the University of Georgia and now runs a baseball facility in Atlanta. Brian's knowledge of the game is very evident.
TYLER GREENE - 2nd Round
Did not sign. Attending Georgia Tech and having a solid Freshman seasons. The Braves really wanted to sign Greene.
CHARLIE MORTON - 3rd Round
Morton is a tall, lanky right hander drafted out of Connecticut. He is slated to be a starting pitcher for the Danville Braves when their season starts in mid-June. Reports out of Extended Spring Training have the Braves very excited about Morton's development.
STEVE RUSSELL - 4th Round
See above. Russell is extremely thin, so he, like Morton, has a lot of time to mature physically. Russell is a little taller than Morton at 6'5". Russell will join Morton as a member of Danville's starting rotation.
KRIS HARVEY - 5th Round
Did not sign - Attending Clemson
JAMES JURRIES - 6th Round
Jurries has been the most pleasant surprise of the 2002 draft. He's already up in AA, playing everyday at third base for the Greenville Braves. Jurries started off slow, but has been on a tear of late. He's now hitting .314 with 3 home runs and 20 RBI. Jurries has an on base percentage of .391 and a slugging percentage of .464. Defensively, he's out of position playing third base and is a liability there. But Jurries can't move to first with Adam LaRoche there in Greenville, Mike Hessman above him at Richmond, and Scott Thorman in Myrtle Beach. Jurries awesome bat will get him to the big leagues, but his defense will make it difficult for him to be an everyday player. Jurries has to be the steal of the 2002 draft so far.
PAT CLAYTON - 7th Round
Right handed pitcher did not sign.
JONATHAN SCHUERHOLZ - 8th Round
Jonathan has more pressure on him than any other Braves minor leaguer. Critics believe this was nepotism, pure and simple. But Braves scouts, who have no reason to try to impress General Manager John Schuerholz, really believed in Jonathan's ability. So far, he's struggled at the plate in Rome, hitting .213 with 0 home runs and 13 runs batted in. Schuerholz does get on base a lot; his OBP is .337. Once he adjusts more to the wooden bat in pro ball he could be a productive middle infielder. His defense at second base has improved from a rocky start in Danville last season.
NICK STARNES - 9th Round
Right handed pitcher did not sign.
YARON PETERS - 10th Round
If James Jurries is not the steal of the 2002 draft, Yaron Peters might just be it instead. Peters is hitting .326 in Rome with 6 home runs and 27 RBI. His OBP is .384 and slugging percentage is .536. Peters was the SEC Player of the Year at South Carolina in 2002, but for some reason fell in the draft. Peters is a big guy (6'2", 225 lbs) and has a big swing. Defensively, he has done well for the Rome team. Peters is another player who could argue for a promotion, but with Thorman, LaRoche, and Hessman above him at first base, he will stay put for the time being.
MIKE GRASSO - 11th Round
The University of Albany product hit .201 in 169 at bats last season for Danville, and that's where he'll start the 2003 season. He did have 22 stolen bases last season in Rookie Ball. Grasso can play either second base or shortstop.
WES TIMMONS - 12th Round
With the injury to Cole Barthel, Timmons has assumed the starting third base duties in Rome. Timmons is hitting .284 with 1 home run, 12 RBI, and 4 stolen bases. He is considered a fringe player, but so was Mark DeRosa.
DANIEL MEAD - 13th Round
Mead struggled with his control last season in the Gulf Coast League. He'll head to Danville this season as a reliever.
MICHAEL REISS - 14th Round
The right hander from Seminole Community College struggled in the GCL as well, with 35 walks and only 9 strikeouts in fifteen innings of work. He could start out back in the GCL, but may move on to Danville in 2003.
JP LOWEN - 15th Round
Did not sign.
MIKE MUELLER - 16th Round
Big tall right hander from Auburn University is currently in the Rome bullpen. He's got no record with an ERA of 6.30 in 12 relief appearances.
BRAD DAVID - 17th Round
This pick has Trey Hodges written all over it. Hodges was the Braves 17th round pick out of LSU in 2000. He is currently in the Atlanta bullpen. David was also a LSU pitcher picked in the 17th round, and he is very similar to Hodges. David is not going to knock you over with his stuff, but simply goes out and wins. David leads the Braves organization with 12 saves for Rome, along with a 2-0 record and an ERA of 1.82. David has great control (a la Hodges), allowing only four walks in 24.2 innings pitched. David is a candidate to move up to Myrtle Beach in the second half of the season.
JOSH ADAMS - 18th Round
Adams is a tall lefty (6'5") who was drafted out of Franklin College in Indiana. He was 1-5 in Danville last season with an ERA of 3.62 and struck out 37 in 37.1 innings pitched. Adams will head to Danville, where he might get a chance as the closer.
FERNANDO TADEFA - 19th Round
The crafty lefty has a hard fastball, and if he can improve his control, has a chance to advance. Tadefa is yet another member of the Rome Braves bullpen. He's 1-1 with an ERA of 3.27 with 13 walks and 23 strikeouts in 23 innings of work.
CHARLES ADAMS - 20th Round
Did not sign.
PAUL BUSH - 24th Round
A later selection who skipped Rome and is now pitching in Myrtle Beach. Bush is similar to Tadefa. He must improve his control to have a chance. He has a 4-3 record for the Pelicans with an ERA of 4.45. Bush has struck out 30 and walked 13 in 28.1 innings pitched. The Braves must have confidence in his abilities to allow him to skip Rome.
STEVEN REISS - 25th Round
The brother of 14th round pick Michael Reiss, Steven also struggled in the GCL last summer. He was 0-2 with an ERA of 9.13. He also walked 31 while striking out 12 in 22.2 innings of work. Reiss could start out at Orlando or Danville.
DEVIN ANDERSON - 28th Round
A left handed pitcher just signed recently as a draft and follow prospect. At 6'5", 220 pounds, Anderson has great size and reportedly a tough slider and curve ball.
DAN COLLINS - 45th Round
Recently signed as a draft and follow.
RICK AGUILAR - 47th Round
Late round pick and the brother of Greenville reliever Ray Aguilar. Rick (not the former Twins reliever either) pitched well in the GCL last season (1-0, 2.20 and 5 saves). He'll more than likely head to Danville.
BILL SHANKS CAN BE REACHED ON THE MESSAGE BOARDS AT www.bravescenter.com and at email@example.com
2002 Braves Draft Review
Atlanta Dugout Top Stories
Braves expected to pursue Dickey this winterR.A. Dickey is among the veteran pitchers the Atlanta Braves are looking at heading into the offseason.
Hardball ScoopTuesday at 12:52 PM
Toronto expected to exercise option on GrilliJust as the city had figured, veteran right-hander Jason Grilli is expected to return to Toronto for 2017.
Hardball ScoopSunday at 2:47 PM
Braves sign Sam Freeman to minor-league dealSam Freeman has found a new home for next season, as reports indicate that Freeman has signed with the Atlanta Braves in a minor league deal.
MLB Ballpark Experience RankingsThe Stadium Journey staff fanned out to all 30 MLB ballparks to establish this year’s rankings. Each stadium was evaluated based on our FANFARE scale which includes 1) an…