Braves Draft and Follow Report

Bill Shanks takes a look at the Braves' newest minor leaguers with a report on the Draft and Follow signees.

The Atlanta Braves signed six draft picks from their 2004 draft as draft and follow players in the last few weeks. Here's a small report on each of them with some comments from their college coaches.

Trevion Griffin - OF - Lurleen B. Wallace (Ala.) JC - 5'11" - 165 - R/R - 2/27/85
Shanks' Comment: Last year's 29th round pick has some solid speed on the base paths. The Braves like to try to get a speedster out of every draft, so Griffin's presence allows them to concentrate on going after maybe a power-hitting outfielder in next Tuesday's draft. Griffin has an outside shot at starting at Danville, but will probably start out in the Gulf Coast League. Griffin is originally from Albany, Georgia.

Jamie Richmond - RHP - Texarkana College - 6'3-180 - 3-23-86 Ontario, Canada
Shanks' Comment: The Braves' 31st rounder from 2004, Richmond came to Texas from Mississauga, Ontario in Canada. He's a hard thrower and the Braves are still trying to decide whether he'll be in the pen or in a rotation. He'll start in the GCL.

Phil Britton - C - Olney Central College in Illinois - 6'1" - 190 - R/R
Shanks' Comment: The Braves believe they have another Clint Sammons' type catcher, one that will be a very good leader on and off the field for a young pitching staff and one that could develop into a solid pro receiver. Britton was the 36th round pick last season, and the Braves believed he was their most important draft and follow signee. Britton led all JUCO freshmen in 2004 with 15 home runs and 89 RBI, but then he slipped a bit in 2005 to have only 8 home runs and 46 RBI as a sophomore. Britton was going to the University of Kentucky before the Braves signed him. Expect him to go to the GCL. His signing will probably allow the Braves to focus on other areas for the first five rounds.

Olney Coach Dennis Conley: He's a very good catch-and-throw receiver. That's his strength. Phil's got a plus arm. He's a very athletic kid who has really filled into his body. He was only 162 pounds when he came to us, but now he's right around 190 pounds. He's only going to get stronger as he matures. Offensively, Phil has good doubles power and occasional power. He was just pitched a bit differently this past year; that's why his numbers slipped a bit.

Joshua Ward - RHP - Chipola Community College - 6'3" - 190 pounds.
Shanks' Comment: Ward was the Braves' 37th round pick in 2004 out of Seminole High School in Donalsonville, Georgia. He attended Chipola Community College in Florida and has developed into a nice relief prospect. He's got a chance to start in Danville.

Chipola CC Head Coach Jeff Johnson: Josh is a hard-throwing right-hander. He had a little trouble with the breaking ball when we first got him. We taught him the slider. It's become a very good pitch for him. He's got great arm strength. He had a few mechanical issues, but he smoothed those out. We just had to clean him up a bit. Anytime you make those adjustments, the velocity dips down a bit, but once he got straightened out his velocity was fine. He was in the 88-93 mph range. He's been up to 95-96 before.

He has a good change up. He was our closer so we didn't use it as much as he will now. He has a good feel for it. He just needs to work on his command. He's got a great upside and a great future. He had a good amount of strikeouts. He's a very good competitor. He really competes well. That hard slider really helped him. He's not a real finesse type guy, so that slider is more appropriate for his makeup.

Kyle Warren - LHP - Rockingham Community College - 6'3" - 170
Shanks' Comment: The Braves drafted him in the 45th round in the 2004 draft out of Western Alamance High School in North Carolina. The Braves think they've got another Brady Endl-type pitcher. He's a lefty with solid stuff across the board, and he will probably get some starts this summer in the GCL, but don't rule out Danville at some point this summer.

Rockingham Head Coach Scott Cates: Kyle signed at RCC while I was the assistant. I had never seen him play and just heard things about him. We decided he was going to be one of our four starters. Eventually he became our first pitcher. We won 21 games and he won 7 or 8 games. He throws a fastball, curve, and change up. He pitched in the 87-88 range for most of the year. He can hit 90-92. Against Louisburg, he had a one-hitter, shut them out, and struck out 10. He had some other games that he struck out 9 and 10. He was fairly dominant most times he took the hill. He was second in the league in strikeouts. He hates to lose worse than anything in the world. I never saw him when he didn't have his best stuff. He just needs to get stronger. I think he's going to make a good pro player. I think his fastball is the best pitch he's got. He lives and dies with that. He's got a good changeup and a good curve, and working with the Braves those will only get better. I think Brady Endl is a good comparison. Maybe even the Matt Harrison. He's a lot like him. He might not quite throw as hard as Harrison. We made him throw the curve and change. The biggest thing Kyle did is that he hit his spots. He very rarely misses his spots. He kept hitters off guard. He's not afraid to throw inside. His change and curve made the fastball look even better. Kyle's a good kid. I think he'll raise some eyebrows.

Marcus Covington - RHP - Louisburg College in North Carolina
Shanks' Comment: The Braves have tracked Covington for three years. He was first drafted out of Forest City, North Carolina in the 42nd round in 2003, and then the Braves selected him again in the 46th round after his first season at Louisburg College. The Louisburg College baseball team won the NJCAA Region X Baseball tournament and Covington was a huge reason. He went 7-2 in 15 games (12 starts) with a 2.69 ERA, 49 hits allowed in 67 innings, 25 runs, 20 earned runs, 42 walks, and 88 strikeouts. Opponents had a .205 average against him this season. He's got a power arm and has topped out at 95, 96 mph.

Louisburg Head Coach Billy Godwin: Marcus is pretty good. He's a right-handed pitcher with a great arm. Down the stretch for us he pitched as good as anyone. He was up to 93 mph and showed a plus slider. He throws a change up, which came a long way and is usable. It's not a plus pitch, but if he continues to develop that, three pitches will certainly get it done for him. He was a starter. This year he came along way from last year in the development of his slider. He set toward the end of the year at 88-93. I think the best I can tell they're going to start him in short relief. He's certainly got the stuff to be a good reliever. He could go either way. He's a very physical kid, so he could start. He really matured as a pitcher, which makes me think he has the makeup to be a reliever.

Bill Shanks has a new book out on baseball scouting and player development. "Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team" is on the bookshelves now at your Barnes and Noble, B. Dalton, and Borders bookstores. Bill can be reached at

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