Braves fans have seen firsthand this season the importance of having a deep and talented farm system. With ten rookies currently on the Atlanta roster, no organization in baseball has churned out talent like Atlanta's over the last few seasons.
The Braves have had very strong drafts over the past six years, and their international scouting remains an important part of the philosophy to keep the system strong. Today the Braves made another big move to further build its deep system.
Atlanta has signed Australian left-handed pitcher Steve Kent to a contract worth $300,000. Kent chose the Braves over the Padres, Marlins, and Twins, even though Minnesota offered him more money.
"I am grateful the Atlanta Braves have given me the opportunity to do this," Kent said through a release from his agent. "I am going to work harder than ever to play for them in the Big Leagues. For as long as I can remember it has been my dream to play professional baseball."
Kent has been a pitcher since he was nine, and he became the youngest ever member of the ACT Academy of Sport. For the last two years he's attended the MLB/ABF Academy on the Gold Coast.
"He just turned sixteen," Braves' Eastern Rim Coordinator Phil Dale told BravesCenter Monday night. "He's got a fastball that is in the 87-88 mph range, along with a good bite on his curve and changeup. He's much more polished than (former Braves' pitcher and Australia native) Damian Moss was at this same age. He's got a better fastball and a better curve. Steve's just a high school sophomore, but he's mature beyond his years."
Dale brought Kent to Atlanta back in April for a workout at Turner Field in front of many of the Braves' executives. While in the states, the young lefty also visited the Padres' extended spring training camp in Arizona.
Kent is right around 5'10" and 160 pounds. He will spend this summer at the MLB Academy on the Gold Coast and then travel to Mexico with the Australian AA team for the World U17 Championships and then begin his Braves career at the Instructional League this fall.
Bill Shanks has a new book out on baseball scouting and player development called "Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team." Bill can be reached at email@example.com.
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