After Kolby Allard was drafted by the Braves with the 14th pick in the first round Monday, Atlanta split its next four picks between pitchers and position players.
The second pick of the first round for Atlanta, number 28 overall, was Canadian right-handed pitcher Mike Soroka. The Braves saw a lot of Soroka when he was on the Canadian Junior National Team, which happened to be coached by former Braves reliever Chris Reitsma.
Like Allard, Soroka is only 17 years old. His fastball reaches 94 miles an hour, while the changeup his next best pitch. Soroka is 6-4 and weighs 195 pounds. Baseball America ranked him as the 88th best player available, while MLB.com had him at 60.
The Braves liked Soroka in part due to his hockey background. But more than that, they loved his performance against national teams. Last month in the Dominican, Soroka pitched in three games and did not allow one run and only one hit in 13 innings. He struck out 16.
In the competitive balance round, with the pick the Braves got in the deal with the Padres in March, Atlanta selected Mississippi high school third baseman Austin Riley. Some teams liked Riley as a pitcher, but the Braves want him as a potential power hitter.
Riley is 6-2 and weighs 230 pounds. He just turned 18 on April 2. He’s committed to Mississippi State but the Braves expect Riley to sign.
Another position player was next as the Braves selected Allard’s catcher with their second round pick. The team believes Lucas Herbert was the best catcher in the draft. He’s 6-1 and weighs 195. He’ll turn 19 in November.
Most analysts believe Herbert has great defensive skills, but the Braves are convinced he will hit, too.
And with the competitive balance selection they got from the Diamondbacks, the Braves selected Texas A&M left-hander A.J. Minter with pick number 75 in the draft. Minter turns 22 in September. He is 6-0 and weighs 210 pounds.
Minter recently had Tommy John surgery, so he won’t be back until next spring. But the Braves believe he would have been a first round pick if he had not been injured. They are convinced Minter will regain his status as a power arm. The plan is to make him a starting pitcher, even though he has experience as a reliever in college.
Minter had a 0.43 ERA in the four games he pitched for the Aggies before his injury. He had 29 strikeouts in only 21 innings. As a sophomore in 2014, Minter pitched in 26 games out of the bullpen and had a 1.85 ERA.
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