Bridges and Batista rave about Allard

Bill Shanks has more from Braves scouting director Brian Bridges and national crosschecker Tom Batista on first round pick Kolby Allard.

When Brian Bridges saw Kolby Allard pitch last summer, the Braves scouting director thought there was no chance the California prep left-hander would be on the board when Atlanta had its first round pick, number 14 overall.

“I thought it was a pipe dream. I said, ‘There’s no way this kid gets to us.’ But we were fortunate that some unfortunate things happened and here we are,” Bridges said.

Allard had a back issue pop up that cut short his senior season. It was the result of playing in the field and hitting home run derby, according to Bridges. That made some teams back up on Allard, but not the Braves, who stuck with him and made Allard want to be part of their organization.

Bridges said there would have been “no chance” the Braves would have gotten Allard if he had not had the injury. The Braves doctors cleared Allard and he’s been throwing for about a month.

“He’s good to go,” Bridges said.

Bridges said that Allard has the “best amateur curveball in the draft. It’s a plus curveball. (Fastball) 91-93. Pitches to both sides of the plate. Changeup is on the come, like most prep pitchers. But he has a very good arm and a great kid.”

Tom Batista is one of the Braves national crosscheckers. He’s based in California and helped the Braves sign players like Kris Medlen, Tommy Hanson and Freddie Freeman. Batista has watched Allard since he was 14 years old. He agrees the injury allowed Allard to fall to the Braves.

“I think right now, if he was healthy, we wouldn’t have had a chance,” Batista said. “He is the best high school pitcher in the country or at the college level.”

Batista explained what the doctors said about Allard’s back injury, called a stress reaction.

“He had some soreness in his back. It wasn’t a distinctive pain. When the doctor examined him he said, ‘there’s nothing diagnostic that’s showing. We’ve seen it before. It’s a stress reaction, and the cautious thing to do, even though we know this is going to hurt, is to take six weeks off of your high school season.’ They only have eight weeks.

“It was a stroke of luck because we have such tremendous history with him. We knew him inside and out. We knew his makeup, his personality and his talent. He’s on a significant upward trend.”

Batista said Allard is comparable to Max Fried, another California prep high school pitcher who was a top pick a few years ago by San Diego and is now in the Atlanta farm system.

“Max has about an inch on him,” Batista said. “Kolby is a little over six-foot-one. Max had an above average big league curveball showing plusses at times. Kolby shows plusses many times. Kolby’s a little, at this age and at this point in high school, he’s a little bit more polished with the change up.”

Bridges indicated the Braves were not concerned about signing Allard, who also spoke to the media via conference call Monday night and agreed a deal should get done soon.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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