BRAVESCENTER.COM EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ROY CLARK

BravesCenter.com and Braves Show host Bill Shanks talked to Braves Director of Scouting Roy Clark soon after the first day of MLB's First Year Player Draft. Read the transcript of the interview, in its entirety, where Clark talks about most of the picks in the first 20 rounds, including Luis Atilano, Steve Doetsch, and Kyle Bakker.

SHANKS: Just give your general overall impressions after Day One.

CLARK: Well the preparation was there, the work was there, the work ethic was there with our scouts. We feel like that we got a very strong group of players into this system through this draft. We're very proud. Very proud.

SHANKS: You told me pitching was going to be the priority and indeed it was. 14 out of the first 23 picks were pitchers.

CLARK: Definitely the strength of the draft, especially early as you saw. High school pitching was at a premium and we recognized that, prepared for that. It's a remarkable group of not only arm strength guys but guys who know how to pitch and have the mental capacity to separate them and help separate us from other clubs.

SHANKS: How long you scouted Luis Atilano (Supplemental Round)?

CLARK: He's pitched over here in the states. I think he pitched in Jupiter in the fall. We saw him in January, and then in May. We've scouted him very heavily?

SHANKS: You've compared him to Javier Vazquez.

CLARK: That's the guy; it's tough to compare him to an established major leaguer. There's a lot of similarities. I think a lot of people in Puerto Rico that saw Javier Vazquez come thought think there's a lot of similarities with this guy. He's a three pitch, four pitch guy. He throws strikes. He can sink the ball, works both sides of the plate. He throws in that 90-92 range. His command is above average. We think he has a high upside.

SHANKS: You say he's gradually improved over the last year. How important is that?

CLARK: Very much so. He's not a guy who was at 85 last year and is 94 this year. He's a guy who has gradually gotten better. He was 86, 87 then he was 88, 89 last fall. This year he's in the 91-92 range. So he's a guy just keeps getting better. Where is it going to stop? I don't know, but hopefully he'll keep improving.

SHANKS: Salty Dog (Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Supplemental Round). Tell me about him.

CLARK: Our scouts thought he was the catching prospect in the country. 6-4 with a plus arm. Good receiver. Switch hitter with big power. We feel like we've strong catching in the organization, but he's such a special talent we couldn't pass him up."

SHANKS: When you're going after high school catchers, is that harder to project?

CLARK: You're probably right. But he's got the strength and durability factor. He's got all the tools. Obviously as a young hitter, when you go out into the minor leagues, you got to be able to hit also. But we think he's going to do that, and we think he's going to hit for power. You know I've heard all the things about young catchers drafting high. Hey, this guy's a special kid too. He's got the makeup. He's going to go out there with a chip on his shoulder.

SHANKS: You mentioned that Jo Jo Reyes (2nd round) has a little similarities to Horacio Ramirez. He's from the same area too.

CLARK: Same area, same scout. A lot of Horacio; he throws a little harder than Horacio did at that time. That kind of competitor. And again, he's not a power guy. We mentioned earlier a radar gun will get you drafted, but you've got to pitch if you want to get to the big leagues. These guys throw hard, but they're not a one dimensional guy that just light up the gun. They can change speeds, they can turn the ball over, they can spin the ball. That's the kind of guys we like.

SHANKS: Talk about Paul Bacot (2nd round).

CLARK: Very good athlete. 6-6. If I'm not mistaken, I've heard he was the point guard on the basketball team. I didn't see it, but they say he's pretty good. That's the kind of athlete he is. Very aggressive. He's in the 91-93 range, with command, with life, good breaking ball, and with an improving change.

SHANKS: You guys have been on the tall right-handers for several years.

CLARK: Well athletic, tall right-handers that have special makeup. We're on them.

SHANKS: Jacob Stevens (3rd round choice) fell a bit in the draft. We're you surprised?

CLARK: He did. He did. As a matter of fact, we spoke to him during the draft. We laid out our situation and asked him if he wanted to be apart of this. We feel like we have a special organization when it comes to developing pitchers and players. He wanted to be apart of that.

He's very much looking forward to being a Brave.

SHANKS: What kind of pitcher is Stevens?

CLARK: He's a power left handed pitcher. I've personally seen him up to 93, 94. Just a power arm, power breaking ball. But again, he knows how to pitch. He's got to improve his change up if he's going to be a starter at the upper levels. But again, a welcome addition.

SHANKS: Matt Harrison (3rd round) also dropped.

CLARK: The theme of this year's draft....you can see the college oriented teams. We had some guys who fell to us in the right round that want to play and give us a chance. We feel very fortunate. 6-4. He's in that 91-92 range. He's from North Carolina, up near Raleigh. Loose arm, quick arm. He's coming to the right place.

SHANKS: Jamie Romac (4th round) from Canada. You guys have had success up there before.

CLARK: He's kinda like a right handed version of (Scott) Thorman (first round pick out of Canada in 2000 who is now at Myrtle Beach). That's how hard he hits the ball. I saw him initially down in Florida playing against our club. They came down to Orlando and played different pro clubs, college clubs. He handled the wood exceptionally well. When he hits the ball he scorches it.

He's got some work to do around third base, but he's a power bat. He came into the stadium this week and wore out our left field seats on Thursday. Good kid.

SHANKS: Chris Vines (5th round). What did you guys see in him?

CLARK: Again, 6-4. 6-5. Very similar. He can touch 91-92. But he's a pitcher. He's got as good a life on his fastball as anybody I saw all year. Very good changeup, both sides of the plate. Very good projectable kid.

SHANKS: Ashley Demme (6th round).

CLARK: Demme's a little bit more of a power guy. We've seen him in his last start; he was up to 94 in the seventh inning. He has a real good curveball.

SHANKS: Ryan Basner (7th round)

CLARK: There's not been so many innings down in the Gulf Coast League, so we had to mix in some college guys. But Mr. Basner, one of our national crosscheckers saw him up to 95 with a good hook. He's a strong kid. Our reports are very good on him.

SHANKS: Sean White (8th round)

CLARK: The number two starter at the University of Washington. He's a senior. But we felt like he's taken a step forward this year. He's a big guy who is in the 91-92 range. Throws strikes.

SHANKS: Adam Stanley (9th round)

CLARK: Adam Stanley is a power guy. I say power....but he's in the 88-90 range. But he's got one of the quickest arms of anybody I've seen....with a good breaking ball.

SHANKS: Can you tell the story of how you found Steve Doetsch.

CLARK: We drafted a kid last year that was a draft and follow named Danny Collins. A 6-4 lefthander that we just signed before the draft. So with the draft and follows you have control over them and you watch them all throughout their junior season. Every time we went into see Mr. Collins, we saw Mr. Doetsch out there. Our scouts couldn't help but see him. He was under control by Philadelphia. Our scout likes him, who has the area, Alex Morales, who does a great job. The Doetsch's showed a genuine interest in playing for the Braves.

SHANKS: That was another kid projected in the 2-5th rounds and just dropped.

CLARK: I don't know. I don't know. I don't know if all these guys are so college-oriented......

I don't know. I'm just thankful the way it fell.

SHANKS: Keith Weiser (18th round) fell as well.

CLARK: Keith Weiser's signability was a question mark to a lot of clubs. I don't know what's going to happen in the next few days or so. But Mr. Weiser and our scout have a very good relationship. And he's told our scout he's ready to sign. We're very happy that our scout stayed with this kid, kept calling, and then the kid called him back and said "I'm ready to go."

SHANKS: How high could he have gone?

CLARK: 5th round. As a matter of fact, that's where we were looking at him at...in that area.

SHANKS: What kind of pitcher is Weiser?

CLARK: He's not a power guy, but he's not a Glavine-type guy. He'll bring it up there..he'll touch 89 as a high school kid. Throws strikes. Good curveball. Nice change. Change up is probably going to be his best pitch. Is he every going to have a Glavine-type change? I hope so. He had some silly numbers. I think he had a 0 ERA for the year. We liked him in that 4th-5th (round) range. But with the guys we got, we didn't feel like he was signable for that slot. So that's when we passed. We got more information later in the draft, and he's ready to go.

SHANKS: You picked a couple of college outfielders (Casey Spanish in the 12th round and Mark Jurich in the 13th round).

CLARK: Jurich had good numbers. Hep Cronin, our scout, saw a lot of him and liked his bat. Spanish the same way. We saw him in the tournament just recently and he hit one a mile.

SHANKS: Then you nabbed Kyle Bakker in the 20th round.

CLARK: I've always thought the world of Kyle. I don't know what's going to happen there, but we'll talk. If he's healthy, I think he can definitely be an asset to this organization and I think we have a lot to offer him.

SHANKS: Kyle's size (6-9) is tempting isn't it?

CLARK: Absolutely. Well not only his size. He's one of those guys that every time I saw him pitch, he pitches great. Last time I saw him was against (Kyle) Sleeth (3rd overall pick of Detroit) I think it was 1-0, 2-0. He pitched a great game. So we'll see what happens there.

SHANKS: Can you compare how you feel tonight compared to the past three drafts.

CLARK: I feel real good. I can honestly tell you that the last three years we as a staff have felt extremely good when we went out of the room. I think the results are showing, and hopefully will show in Atlanta for many years. We have the same feeling this year. Which one is better? We'll let time decide that. We feel this has a chance to be a very special draft.


BILL SHANKS CAN BE REACHED ON THE MESSAGE BOARDS ON www.bravescenter.com and at thebravesshow@email.com.

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