Clark thrilled with first 8 draft picks

Tuesday was draft day, or as the Atlanta Braves like to call it, "the day we get more pitchers!" Braves' Scouting Director Roy Clark talked about the Braves' first eight picks, six of whom were pitchers.


It's been fun. It's been a lot of fun.

On Cody Johnson:
We've been tracking him obviously last summer when he was over at East Cobb and just dominating against the best pitchers in the country. Our scouts were all in there. As you probably know he was the summer league player of the year by Baseball America. We've seen him at his best. We've seen him struggle. We feel very comfortable with his makeup. We feel very comfortable with his ability. Just to give you a little background. We had our pre-draft workout the other day, and there were a couple of guys that came in. We had a hitting group with (Hank) Conger, who went 25th, (Chris) Parmalee, and Cody. The first time ever since I've been here, since 1989, we ran out of balls. They were hitting all the balls out of the ballpark. We had to go get a new shipment of balls for the workout. Cody, in our opinion, was the premiere power bat in this draft. He's also a year younger than most of the other guys in this draft. We are just delighted about Cody.

On Cory Rasmus:
Rasmus is a…I hate to label him as a power pitcher, but he touches 97 (mph). He's got a very good breaking ball, very good changeup. He's a real competitor. They've done pretty good down there. I think they were national champions down there, and he's one of the premiere guys in the draft.

On Steve Evarts:
An excellent projection. He's six-three, six-four. Left-hander. A body along the lines of a Steve Avery. He touches 93 with his fastball and is consistently 90-91, with a real nice feel for pitching. And he's got a changeup. The breaking ball is going to take some time, but it's improving. We're very pleased with him.

On Jeff Locke:
Locke is from New Hampshire, and that was quite a trip. I missed all the moose. We had scouts actually see some moose when they went up to see him, and that's what it said on the signs as your going in, "Beware of the Moose!" He's a guy that we first started tracking last summer down in Jupiter. I've personally seen him five times. He's a … you hate to compare them to big leaguers. You don't want to say Billy Wagner, cause that's tough for anybody. But he's a real aggressive guy – touching 94. He's got a pretty good breaking ball, but he's a bit rawer than the other guys. But he's got a very high ceiling. It was tough to scout him cause it's raining all the time. But I've personally seen him four or five times and feel very comfortable with him.

On Dustin Evans:
His numbers are not great. The Moneyball guys might not like him. But that's okay. We feel very comfortable with him. Ideally down the road he's going to be a bullpen guy. His last start he was touching 96. He's got a good feel for a breaking ball. There are a lot of similarities with him and another guy named Blaine Boyer. Their deliveries are a little bit similar, and they're both big, strong physical guys.

On Chase Fountaine:
Chase Utley? That's who he reminds all of us of - all of us in the room. When you look at him, he's not picture perfect defensively at short, but man can he hit. He's going to stay at short. He's got a special bat. There's no doubt in my mind and our scouts that saw him. We have a guy that does just junior colleges. There was no question in his mind and mine that he was the best junior college hitter in the draft. The total package. He's Chase Utley. That's who he's similar too.

On Chad Rogers:
Chad Rogers is absolutely our kind of guy. We just saw him yesterday (Monday) in the state championship game. I think there's an article in the Cleveland paper. He's undefeated in his career, 18-0. They just won a state championship, and he stepped it up. You've heard me say many times before, we like to see guys in big games, when the pressure's on. Let's see what they can do. He's pretty good. We're very proud to get him.

On Lee Hyde:
I just saw him pitch the other night. He matched up against David Price, who might be the first pick in next year's draft, and he outpitched him. He was 90-92 with a good breaking ball and change. A lot of us have known Lee Hyde for quite a while. He's very aggressive. We thought he was the top college reliever in this year's draft.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look at the Braves' traditional front office philosophies. Email Bill at

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