2004 Draft Review

As the Braves prepare for the 2005 Amateur draft next Tuesday, Bill Shanks takes a look back at how the team did a year ago in the 2004 draft.

When you talk with the kids in the Braves' farm system, they all boast about being a part of the best draft class over the past decade. The problem is they all can put up a good argument. Atlanta's last five drafts under Scouting Director Roy Clark have all been exceptional. At first the 2004 draft looked somewhat "normal" compared to Clark's first four, but this season is proving that the talent from last year's draft is going to make it very competitive with the classes from 2001 through 2003. Here's a pick-by-pick review with a progress report on how the kids are doing now. (Stats are through June 3)

2nd round – 71st overall - Eric Campbell – 3B
He's still in Extended Spring Training, but will soon head to Danville to become their third baseman. The Braves still have tremendous faith that they drafted a Matt Williams-type player in Campbell, who shows flashes of solid power. If Campbell does well in Danville early on, expect him to finish the season in Rome, especially if the Braves promote Van Pope to Myrtle Beach, which is very, very possible.

3rd round – 101st overall – J.C. Holt – 2B
Perhaps the biggest disappointment thus far has been Holt, who did real well in his debut in Danville last season (.321 with 17 stolen bases), but has struggled mightily statistically in Rome. Holt is hitting only .227 with 1 home run, 16 RBI, and 5 steals in 194 at bats. The Braves are being patient with Holt, knowing that the position change from outfield to second base may be impacting his offense a bit. But he still remains a prospect that has a lot of good tools and solid makeup.

4th round – 131st overall – James Parr – RHP
Statistically, you could look at what James Parr has done so far in Rome and not get too excited. But there are too many signs for solid development that give you hope this was a very solid draft pick. Parr has started six of the 10 games he's pitched. He's 4-3 with a 4.89 ERA, 58 hits allowed in 42.2 innings, 12 walks, and 32 strikeouts. The Braves pushed him a bit by allowing him to go to Rome, whereas many young high school draft picks have been given a full year in rookie ball before making the jump to Single-A. The organization still believes they have a solid kid with a tremendous arm, and they think he's got similar stuff to Kyle Davies, who is making an impression now in Atlanta.

5th round – 161st overall – Van Pope – 3B
The Braves knew Pope was the best hitting in JUCO baseball when they drafted him a year ago, and so far he's showing that he does have tremendous talent. Pope is hitting .290 with 4 home runs, 34 RBI, and 22 walks in 193 at bats. He's a solid all-around player, and he's on pace for a very impressive first full season of pro ball. We often say it's fun to wonder how good prospects in Rome may be in two years, and put Pope at the top of the list. He could be a very solid prospect in 2007 if he continues his development.

6th round – 191st overall – Clint Sammons – C
When the Braves drafted Sammons, they believed they had a good catch-and-throw receiver that would be perfect to handle the young pitching staffs in the system. They also believed he would develop into a solid catching prospect. So far, they are right on track with their assessment. From the time they saw Sammons at Parkview High School several years ago, they knew he was a field general, the type of player to lead the team on and off the field. He's done just that in Rome this season. Clint has been one of Rocket Wheeler's team leaders for the Rome Braves, showing tremendous leadership on a very young roster. Sammons is hitting .300 with 19 RBI and 22 walks in 161 at bats. He doesn't have a home run, and the Braves don't really expect him to show much power. But he is showing why they believe they will have a solid backup major league catching prospect in a couple of years.

7th round – 221st overall – Johnnie Wiggins – LHP
Wiggins started the season in Rome as a middle reliever and was shipped out several weeks ago after struggling with control trouble. He's back in Extended Spring Training and will probably go to Danville when their season begins in a few weeks. He's a young lefty, so the Braves have plenty of time to develop him. There is no reason to rush him or to worry when he struggles early.

8th round – 251st overall – Derrick Arnold – SS
Arnold struggled last year in Danville and was beaten out for the Rome roster spot by Mike Rozema, a later draft pick in the 2004 draft. Arnold will head back to Danville to try to get back on track with the bat. So far, mainly due to being outplayed by Rozema, Arnold has been a bit of a disappointment.

9th round – 281st overall – Jeff Katz – RHP
Katz struggled with control trouble last season in the Gulf Coast League (32 walks in 39.2 innings) and the Braves have continued to work with him on that this spring down in Orlando. He'll be on the Danville staff this summer.

10th round – 311th overall – Brady Endl – LHP
Without a doubt, Endl has had the best performance this season of any 2004 draft pick. He's also arguably been the best pitcher in the Carolina League so far this season with his league-leading 1.85 ERA in 11 starts. He's also allowed only 45 hits in 63.1 innings, with 26 walks, and 55 strikeouts. Opponents have hit only .198 against him. The Braves saw great promise from Endl in spring training, and he did not disappoint them in their decision to skip Rome and head to High-A. The only question now is how long it will be before he heads to Double-A. Endl is a big, tall lefty with good movement and a good feel for pitching. The Braves like to draft college pitchers to somewhat fill in their rosters, also hoping that they'll strike lightning with a few older arms. They've done that with Endl, who is having a terrific season and quickly becoming an impressive prospect.

11th round – 341st overall – Wes Letson – LHP
Here's another college arm that skipped Rome without a beat. Letson has been a solid lefty arm in Randy Ingle's bullpen in Myrtle Beach. He's pitched in 16 games and has an ERA of 2.64, 7 walks, 32 hits, and 22 strikeouts in 30.2 innings pitched. The Braves like to develop relievers as well, and so far Letson is becoming a solid arm that is projectable.

12th round – 371st overall – Jeff Long – RHP
Released a few weeks ago.

13th round – 401st overall - Todd Blackford – RHP
Blackford has a young high school arm that will take time to develop. He has been at Extended Spring Training in Orlando and will probably be on Danville's roster.

14th round – 431st overall – Mike Rozema – SS
When Rozema was drafted, it was expected he would simply become a solid infield reserve. But he has done very, very well as a starter in Rome this season, hitting .309 with 27 RBI and a league-tying 18 doubles. Just like the Braves like to develop relief pitchers, there's always room to develop role players that can help your team win doing the little things. Rozema, much like current Atlanta reserve Pete Orr, can do just that, and his offensive performance thus far in Rome has been impressive.

15th round – 461st overall – Jason Paul – RHP Another college arm, Paul was recently promoted to Single-A Rome and has pitched three games out of their bullpen. He'll more than likely continue in that role for the rest of the season.

16th round – 491st overall – Zach Schreiber – RHP
Schreiber battled injury troubles last season, but rehabbed well and made a strong impression in spring training. The former Duke Blue Devil has been one of Rome's best reliever so far this season, getting 22 strikeouts in 21.2 innings along with 2 saves. Zach's fastball has terrific life on it, and he's developing into a solid relief prospect.

17th round – 521st overall – Jon Mark Owings – OF
After a scary life-threatening injury late last season in the Gulf Coast League, Owings has bounced back nicely in Extended Spring Training. The Braves like his athleticism, and he's just a player that needs time to develop. Owings will probably be in Danville's outfield this season. He's got good makeup and solid tools across the board.

18th round – 551st overall – Brad Emaus – SS
Did not sign.

19th round – 581st overall – Danny Brezeale – SS
Brezeale struggled offensively last season in the Gulf Coast League. He'll either return there or be shipped up to Danville as an infield reserve.

20th round – 611th overall – Christian Marrero – OF
Did not sign.

21st round – 641st overall – Tyler Wilson – LHP
The Braves were thrilled to sign Wilson late in the summer. He'll pitch in Danville this summer.

22nd round – 671st overall – Gary Harp – C

23rd round – 701st overall – Austin Hyatt – RHP
Did not sign

24th round – 731st overall – Josh Flores – OF
Braves had a chance to sign him as a draft and follow, but decided to pass

25th round – 761st overall – Judson Norton – RHP
Did not sign

26th round – 791st overall – Adam Parliament – OF
The Braves watched him hit in a tournament in Marietta midway through the summer and watched Parliament put on a power display. He's a rangy outfielder with a similar build to Steve Doetsch, but his power sets him apart. Parliament has continued his solid play in Extended and will go to Danville as one of their outfielders.

27th round – 821st overall – Tyler Flowers – C/1B
Did not sign

28th round – 851st overall – Joey Leiberman – 1B
Did not sign

29th round – 881st overall – Trevion Griffin – OF
The Braves recently signed him as a draft and follow player out of Lurleen B. Wallace Junior College in Alabama. Griffin is a speedster and will start out in the Gulf Coast League later this month.

30th round – 911th overall – Kurt Houck – RHP
Did not sign

31st round – 941st overall – Jamie Richmond – RHP
Signed as a draft and follow in late May. Richmond is a hard thrower who might be in the Gulf Coast League team bullpen this summer.

32nd round – 971st overall – Clay Caulfield – RHP
Braves talked with him as a draft and follow player, but he did not sign.

33rd round – 1001st overall – Brian Murphy – RHP
Did not sign

34th round – 1031st overall – Luis Sanchez – SS
Did not sign

35th round – 1061st overall – Shawn Lee – C
Did not sign

36th round – 1091st overall – Phillip Britton – C
Signed as a draft and follow player out of Olney Central College in Illinois. The Braves are thrilled to have him, and they believe he's much like Clint Sammons: a catcher who will be a leader on and off the field and handle the pitching staff very well. The presence of Britton will allow the Braves to focus on other players early in the 2005 draft.

37th round – 1121st overall – Joshua Ward – RHP
The Braves signed Ward as a Draft and Follow out of Chipola Community College in Florida. He's a relief prospect with a solid fastball and a good change up. The Braves will start him out in the Gulf Coast League.

38th round – 1151st overall – Ryan Horton – LHP
Did not sign

39th round – 1181st overall – Sean Doolittle – LHP
Did not sign

40th round – 1211th overall – Jared Shaffer – RHP
Shaffer signed late last summer. He was also a shortstop in high school in Pennsylvania, but the Braves preferred his arm on the mound. He's battled a minor injury for much of the spring, but he's a candidate to be on the Danville pitching staff this summer.

41st round – 1240th overall – Steve Creswell – LHP
Did not sign

42nd round – 1269th overall – Eric Farris – SS
Did not sign

43rd round – 1298th overall – Adam Myers – RHP
Did not sign

44th round – 1327th overall – Daniel Rios – 1B
Did not sign

45th round – 1356th overall – Kyle Warren – LHP
The Braves signed him as a draft and follow out of Rockingham Community College. He's been compared to Brady Endl, a lanky lefty with a fastball in the 87-92 range, a solid curve, and a changeup. Warren will more than likely be one of the starters on the Gulf Coast League team, but don't be surprised if he's the first of the Draft and Follows to move up.

46th round – 1385th overall – Marcus Covington – RHP
Another draft and follow signee with a power arm that may be headed to the bullpen. Covington also has a solid slider that improved tremendously this season at Louisburg College in North Carolina. His fastball can reach 93 mph.

47th round – 1414th overall – Kevin Camacho – RHP
Did not sign

48th round – 1442nd overall – Eric Evans – LHP
Did not sign

49th round – 1470th overall – William Tanner – RHP
Did not sign

50th round – 1498th overall – William Gonzalez – RHP
Did not sign

49 Draft picks
27 Signed
6 Signed as Draft and Follows
2 have been released

Here's the breakdown of the 27 signed:
P – 15
LHP – 5
RHP - 10
C – 3
1B – 0
2B – 1
SS – 3
3B – 2
OF – 3

Johnnie Wiggins (7)
Brady Endl (10)
Wes Letson (11)
Tyler Wilson (21)
Kyle Warren (45)

James Parr (4)
Jeff Katz (9)
Jeff Long (12)
Todd Blackford (13)
Jason Paul (15)
Zach Schreiber (16)
Jamie Richmond (31)
Joshua Ward (37)
Jared Shaffer (40)
Marcus Covington (46)

Clint Sammons (6)
Gary Harp (22)
Phillip Britton (36)

J.C. Holt (3)

Derrick Arnold (8)
Mike Rozema (14)
Danny Brezeale (19)

Eric Campbell (2)
Van Pope (5)

Jon Mark Owings (17)
Adam Parliament (26)
Trevion Griffin (29)

Bill Shanks has a new book out on baseball scouting and player development, analyzing the philosophies of the Atlanta Braves and other traditional scouting teams. "Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team" is available at your local bookstore. Bill can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com

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