BravesCenter Exclusive: Roy Clark Interview

BravesCenter's Jason Walker spoke with Braves Director of Scouting <B>Roy Clark</B> soon after selections ended on the first day of MLB's First Year Player Draft. Read on to see what Clark had to say about Atlanta's first 15 draftees including <B>Eric Campbell, James Parr, Van Pope,</B> and <B>Clint Sammons</B>.

Their approach to the draft:

Well this draft was a lot different than most that I've been through. There was a shortage of high school position players, for example, across the country, and with the large amount of teams seeking college talent, we had to use more Junior/Community College players. It was abnormal to have such a shortage of high school position players available as far as talent level in different parts of the country, like in Southern California. We feel real good about the guys that we got.

What do you think the talent level in the state of Georgia was this draft?

The talent level was good, but it just didn't fit. A lot of times it was financial reasons, and when you're picking #71, a lot of times the talented guys available there aren't signable.

What about those JuCo players?

Well, I'll tell you this, if there is one thing that Johnny Estrada, Adam LaRoche, Marcus Giles, Nick Green all have in common, it's that they were junior college position players. They are out there, and it's our job to find them. We signed a few junior college players before the draft and we drafted some today. It was a strength this year.

After taking a few position players early, you guys took pitching again with 8 of 10 picks after the sixth round. With a crowded staff in the system, are you worried about overcrowding? Where are you going to put these guys?

Well, we were taking the best guys, that's what we did this year, we took the best guys that our scouts evaluated according to our standards, which emphasizes makeup plus ability. The guys that we are bringing in we are real proud of. You can't pass on talent because you think you have enough. You make room for them. We took the best players according to our standards.

Here are the Braves Draft Picks with Director's Commentary from Clark:

1. Eric Campbell, 3B

We project him to be, possibly, a Matt Williams type player. He's a strong, power hitting third baseman that plays the game the way it should be played. We're very proud to be bringing Eric into our system and our family. According to our reports, when he found out we drafted him, he leaped out of the clubhouse, hands raised, and was visibly excited to be a Brave.

To give you a little background, when we saw him last summer over in East Cobb in an all-star game, he hit seven homeruns, with a wood bat, against the top pitching for this year's draft in the country. He won the home run derby in the Aflac All-star game. He's just a tough, hardnosed guy…he's our kind of guy.

2. J.C. Holt, 2B

He's a Brett Butler type center fielder. He's a scrappy, lefthanded, leadoff guy who can really run. Last year, he was the MVP of the Cape Cod League with a wood bat, hitting around .380. He hit around .400 this year at LSU, and by all accounts is a great team player. He will play second base for us, which is his natural position, but he can play center fielder. It kind of reminds me of when we took Richard Lewis a few years ago.

3. James Parr, RHP

He is a Player of the Year in New Mexico, and a comparison might be Kyle Davies in our own system. He is a tremendous competitor with great makeup and a great arm. He's a guy who we have seen a lot of and has a chance to be a real great one.

4. Van Pope, 3B

He is a junior college position player who our scouts say was the best player in the whole Junior College World Series. He had around .406 with 19 doubles and 19 homeruns, struck out 36 times and walked 30. He has signed with Ole Miss, but we feel like he wants to be a Brave. Going into the season and currently one of the top JuCo players in this draft.

5. Clint Sammons, C

Sammons is a tremendous makeup guy, with a terrific catch and throw. He did not have a good year with the bat, but we think he's going to hit, also. He will be a tremendous asset to our pitchers in this system. There are guys who pitchers love to throw to because they do things the right way, and Clint is one of those guys.

6. Trae Wiggins, LHP

Trae's a Georgia kid who we've had up to 94-95 mph. He's raw, but he can spin the breaking ball. We feel that with the coaches we have in this system, once we iron out his delivery a little bit, we think we have something special. A left hander at 94 who can spin a breaking ball, we'll take him.

7. William Arnold, SS

He was on the same team as Brandon Jones down there in Tallahassee. I interviewed a lot of coaches who had seen them both as to who was the best in the league. Half said Jones and half said Arnold. He has signed with LSU, but told us he wants to play pro ball now. He's a scrappy ballplayer who can play both midfield positions.

8. Jeff Katz, RHP

He gets compared to Anthony Lerew in our system. A big strong, physical guy who is going to Boston College to play football. We've got him up to 93 with the ability to spin the ball.

9. Brady Endl, LHP

He's a two way player, a first baseman with good numbers at both first base and as a left handed pitcher, but we took him a pitcher. He's 6'5 with a good breaking ball, touches 90, but we feel like when he concentrates on pitching we'll have something special there as well.

10. Wes Letson, LHP

We saw him pretty good over in Birmingham. We've got him up to 90-91, he spins the breaking ball real good. He's thrown a lot of pitches this year, so we'll bring him along slowly. We think he's a competitor and has a lot of potential.

11. Jeff Long, RHP

College senior who we have had up to 94-95 and does extremely well on all of our psychological profiles, a real competitor. He's a power arm.

12. Todd Blackford, RHP

He's the other Anthony Lerew. Big strong guy with a good arm. When our Midwest cross checker, who very seldom calls me during games, saw him he called me. He was fired up about this kid. He's a little raw.

13. Michael Rozema, SS

A slick fielding shortstop. The bat is a question, but our guys raved about his defensive abilities. I asked who has seen if they thought he was a big league player, and they all said he was. It might be as a defensive guy, a utility player.

14. Jason Paul, RHP and 15. Zach Schreiber, RHP

Both big, strong arm guys that are going to get a chance out of the bullpen. They both have real good arms.

When can signings occur?

They can sign tonight. There are several that we will probably get done tonight, and others that are still playing (Holt, Sammons). A lot of them we anticipate signing in the next couple of days and they will report on the 10th in Orlando for minicamp. We had good feels for signability on most of these guys. We will be following some of these guys over the summer. We've had good success with that last year and we drafted a couple tonight (John Owings and Bradley Emaus) that we really think a lot of and hopefully they will be guys over the course of the summer that we can sign to a contract.

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