The Atlanta Braves have signed their fourth round pick in this June's draft, high school right-hander Michael Broadway, and the sixth round selection, Baylor right-hander Tyler Bullock.
Broadway was one of the top prep players in Illinois this season. The 6'5", 190-pounder throws a fastball, curve, and changeup.
"I've actually just started working on the changeup this year," Broadway says. "I've just gotten the feel for it. I feel like it's coming along pretty well. It's not where it needs to be right now. I need to work on it a lot. My curveball is sharp at times and at times it's flat, so I need to work on that too."
The Braves were impressed with Broadway's fastball, which at times hit the mid-90s this season. He usually stayed in the 91-94-range, only to see it dip a bit to between 88-91 later in the season.
"I like to throw my fastball," Broadway admits. "I've got decent velocity. I just go out there and throw really."
But now Broadway will head to Orlando to learn how to pitch. He came from an area not known for the best baseball competition, so he knows he has a lot to learn now that he's a pro.
"I realize that the competition in my hometown isn't that great, and I've had my butt handed to me plenty of times by plenty of hitters," Broadway says. "But you learn from it all and get back up and keep throwing. I'm definitely excited about learning new stuff and throwing against better hitters."
Broadway knows the competition will also be good between his fellow Braves' prospects. He's anxious to see how his game will stack up with the other talented arms in the Atlanta system.
"I think it'll definitely be good for me," he says. "At the Area Code Games last year I did real well, and that was great competition. It'll be a little bit of a change there at first, but I always love a challenge. I'm going to get out there and work my butt off and get things done."
The young pitcher says he grew up both a fan of the Braves and Cardinals. He always admired the Braves pitchers and the Cardinals are only three and a half hours from his hometown of Golconda, Illinois. He had 29 teams scout him – all except the Oakland Athletics. But when the Braves took him in the fourth round almost three weeks ago, he was thrilled.
"It was awesome," Broadway claims. "There could not have been a better team pick me. I've always liked the Braves. I'd love to pitch for them one day. I knew the Braves had great minor league pitching instructors, so I was kind of hoping it would be the Braves."
Along with learning how to pitch, Broadway also hopes to bulk up a bit. He's a bit lanky now, but the Braves believe he might possibly add up to forty pounds to his frame over the next several years.
"I'm hoping to fill out some and get on a good weight program," says Broadway, who will report to the Braves Gulf Coast League team this week in Orlando.
Bullock is a 21-year old right-hander that spent the season in the Baylor bullpen. He went 1-0 in 22 games with 1 save and an ERA of 3.04. Bullock allowed 24 hits in 26.2 innings, walked 12, and struck out 22. He held opponents to a .235 average.
The native of Fort Worth, Texas saw time as the Bears' catcher in 2004, but was exclusively a reliever this season. The Braves saw him pitch last summer in the Cape Cod League and came away impressed.
Bullock joins first round pick Joey Devine, fifth round pick Will Startup, 11th rounder Michael Nix, and 12th rounder Rudy Quinonez as college relievers signed by the Braves this month.
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 in bookstores now. Bill can be reached at email@example.com
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