The release of six minor leaguers by the Braves brings the 2013 into the spotlight. Six of the players let go were from the 2013 draft, so let’s examine that group of players selected.
Jason Hursh was the 31st pick in the first round for the Braves. He pitched in Double-A Mississippi last season. Hursh had an 11-7 record in 27 games (26 starts) with an ERA of 3.58, 151 hits in 148.1 innings, 43 walks and 83 strikeouts.
Hursh has pitched well so far, but scouts believe his future is in the bullpen as a reliever. A few players selected after Hursh have done well. Sean Manaea was picked 34th by Kansas City and is becoming a top prospect. Corey Knebel (picked 39th) made the big leagues last season for Detroit.
Victor Caratini was Atlanta’s second round pick (65th overall). He was traded to the Cubs last summer in the James Russell trade. Carlos Salazar was a high school arm out of California taken in the third round. He struggled as a starter last year in Rome (10.60 ERA in 10 starts) but did better as a reliever for Danville (2.51 ERA in 17 games, with 34 strikeouts in 28.2 innings. Will the Braves keep Salazar in the bullpen or move him back into the rotation.
Catcher Tanner Murphy was Atlanta’s fourth round pick out of Malden High School in Missouri. Murphy will be 20 years old in February and will likely head to Rome next spring. Murphy hit .242 with five home runs and 19 RBI in 157 at bats in Danville last season. Baseball America rated Murphy as the 15th best prospect in the Appy League for 2014.
Mikey Reynolds was the 5th round pick out of Texas A&M. Reynolds played in only 18 games for Rome last season before getting suspended for 50 games for a performance-enhancing substance. He had hit only .188 in 71 plate appearances before his suspension. We’ll see if the Braves send him back to Rome to start the 2015 season.
The sixth round pick was right-hander Steve Janas, who pitched at Kennesaw State. Janas pitched in 18 games (17 starts) for Rome last season and had a 4.52 ERA. Janas is a tall kid (6-6) and the coaches are intrigued by his stuff. He’ll be 23 next season, so the Braves might push Janas to High-A Lynchburg.
Right-hander Ian Stiffler was the seventh round pick. In two years he’s pitched in only 12 games, with five starts. Last year in Danville, he had four games (two starts) pitched and an 8.71 ERA, with 11 walks in 10.1 innings.
Kyle Wren was picked in round eight. He was traded to the Brewers after his father was fired as general manager in September.
Third baseman Dylan Manwaring has been in the GCL the first two years of his pro career. The son of former Giants catcher Kirt Manwaring, Dylan has hit only .167 in his first 222 at bats of his career. He’s 20 now, so we’ll see if the Braves punch him up to Low-A Rome this season.
Ian Hagenmiller is also a third baseman. His story is similar to Manwaring’s. Hagenmiller has spent the first two seasons in the GCL and has hit only .198. He too is 20, so will either Hagenmiller or Manwaring be promoted up to Rome for 2015?
So far, Alec Grosser is the most interesting pick from the 2013 draft. Grosser was impressive in Danville last season. He was 4-3 with a 3.68 ERA in 13 games (12 starts). He allowed 60 hits in 63.2 innings, with 63 strikeouts. Baseball America rated Grosser the 8th best prospect in the Appalachian League following the 2014 season. Grosser got fourth round money ($400,000) when drafted out of high school in Virginia. He will be in Rome to start the 2015 season, and for a system void of numerous pitching prospects, the Braves will monitor Grosser closely.
After Grosser at 11, that’s when we get into the players that have been released: Ryan Gunther (12th round), Michael Swanner (16th), Jared Dettmann (17th), Chuck Buchanan (18th), Jordan Sechler (19th) and Tyler Vail (20th).
In between those rounds, Joseph Odom was drafted in the 13th round out of Huntingdon College in Alabama. He played all of 2014 at Lynchburg and hit .205 with six home runs and 20 RBI. Odom will battle for a spot on the Mississippi roster this spring.
Tyler Kuresa was the 14th round pick. He did not sign and was drafted this past June in the 16th round by the Twins. Kuresa actually was outstanding for Elizabethton of the Appy League, as he hit .298 with five home runs and 44 RBI.
Fifteenth round pick Matt Marksberry is still in the Atlanta system. He’s a left-handed pitcher out of Campbell University in North Carolina. Last year Marksberry made 22 starts in Rome and had a 3.55 ERA in 111.2 innings. He allowed 100 hits but walked 51 and struck out 98. Marksberry made two relief appearances for Lynchburg last season. He’ll probably return to High-A in 2015 and we’ll see if he can win a spot in the Carolina Mudcats rotation.
The 21st pick in 2013 was also in Rome last season. Tyler Brosius was taken out of Walters State Community College. He pitched in 28 games (15 starts) and had a 4.51 ERA, with 106 hits allowed in 107.2 innings, 59 walks and only 65 strikeouts.
Andrew Waszak was the 22nd rounder in 2013. He made 14 starts in Danville and had a 4.44 ERA, with 73 hits allowed in 73 innings, 18 walks and 51 strikeouts. Waszak will compete for a spot in the Rome rotation in spring training.
Connor Oliver was taken in the 23rd round and played the entire 2014 season in Rome. He hit .252 with three home runs and 26 RBI in 405 at bats. Oliver played mostly in center field. He’ll try to make the Carolina roster in March.
Catcher Orrin Sears was taken in the 24th round. He was suspended last February for 50 games for testing positive for PEDs. The Braves released Sears in June.
Shortstop Reed Harper went in the 25th round out of Austin Peay. He mostly played for Rome last year (48 games) and hit only .193. Harper will try to hang on as a utility infielder in 2015.
Dakota Dill was a 26th round pick out of Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. Dill had Tommy ohn surgery in April and missed the entire 2014 season. We’ll see if he’s recovered enough by the spring to make the Rome roster. He pitched in 18 relief appearances in Danville in 2013.
The 27th round pick was Jake Schrader, a right-handed hitting first baseman out of the University of Tampa. Schrader is actually the best late-round story so far, as he hit .290 in 88 games at Rome with 11 home runs and 55 RBI. Schrader had a .347 on base percentage in 360 plate appearances. Schrader will likely move up to High-A Carolina in 2015. He’ll turn 24 before the season starts, so he’ll be an older prospect. But with his production in Rome Schrader is one to watch.
Stephen Wrenn was the 28th round pick out of Walton High School in Marietta, a suburb of Atlanta. Wrenn did not sign and instead attended Georgia Tech. Wrenn started 55 games with the Yellow Jackets and hit .254 with 16 stolen bases.
Tim Hergert, the 29th rounder, did not sign as well. He was drafted out of Heritage High School in Vancouver, Washington and decided to attend Central Arizona College, a junior college. He hit .292 with 19 steals as a freshman.
Right-handed pitcher Sterling Sharp did not sign after the Braves picked him in the 30th round. He decided to attend Eastern Michigan to pitch for the Eagles. Sharp was 2-6 with a 4.63 ERA in his freshman season.
The Braves failed to sign any of their final 10 draft picks. Trevor Sprowl was actually redrafted by the Braves in the 26th round of the 2014 draft after not signing following the Braves picking him in the 33rd round in 2013. Sprowl played 15 games at Danville and then 12 games at Rome this past season. He hit only .233 and will battle for a job in spring training.
Obviously, the success Hursh has will ultimately dictate how this draft is graded. So far, however, it’s not been an overwhelming success in the first season-and-a-half. Murphy and Grosser look like the two with the most upside, especially if Hursh is only slated for bullpen action. Schrader is the best late-round pick, but he may simply be an organizational player and not a true prospect.
This was Tony DeMacio’s next-to-last draft as scouting director. But the lack of success from this draft is one reason the Braves farm system is not in great shape. Perhaps some of the younger players (like Janas, Manwaring or Hagenmiller) can make this class look better, but most likely the releases of the six pitchers is an indication of how weak the Braves 2013 draft is – at least right now.
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