The Atlanta Braves have signed four draft and follow players from last June's draft, including two pitchers, a third baseman, and an outfielder.
Matt Small was Atlanta's 14th round pick last spring out of Ipswich High School in Mississippi. The six-foot-three, 185 pound right-hander decided to play at Lake City Community College in Florida.
Timberwolves' Coach Tom Clark made Small his closer, and the young man put up some impressive numbers as a freshman. Small was 5-2 in 27 games (all in relief) with an ERA of 2.01. He allowed 43 hits in 45 innings, 17 runs, 10 earned runs, 19 walks, and 49 strikeouts. Small was the Fireman of the Year with his nine saves, and opponants had a .249 average against him. Of the 43 hits Small allowed, 39 were singles with the other four being two-base hits.
Small has a power arm with a 93 mph fastball. He could be a candidate for the Danville bullpen next month.
The other pitcher signed by the Braves is lefty Clayton McMillan from Panola College in Carthage, Texas. The six-foot-three, 230 pound McMillan was drafted out of Carthage High School in 2005 by the Cubs in the 18th round. He decided to attend Texarkana College and had an impressive season going 4-4 with a 3.13 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 72 innings pitched.
McMillan was drafted by the Braves in the 17th round last just, but then he decided to transfer to Panola College for his sophomore season to play for his hometown Ponies. McMillan started 11 games this spring and was 5-4 with a 3.92 ERA, 50 hits allowed in 59.2 innings, 26 earned runs, 32 walks, and 66 strikeouts. Hitters put up only a .213 average against McMillan.
Stephen Shults is a third baseman from Walters State Community College in Tennessee. Shults was the Braves' 15th round pick last season after an impressive freshman year at Walters. He hit .366 with 23 home runs and 71 RBI last season. Then this year Shults hit .414 with 17 home runs and 61 runs batted in.
Shults was named to the TJCCAA All-Conference Team. He's six-foot-two, 215 pounds and hits from the right side of the plate. Shults played high school at Lawrenceburg High School in Tennessee.
And finally the Braves have signed speedy outfielder L.V. Ware from Okaloosa Walton Community College in Florida. The five-foot-eleven, 175 pounder hits and throws right and was born on March 18, 1987.
Ware hit .305 with no home runs and 26 runs batted in this season. He also had 25 stolen bases. Ware is yet another kid from the Atlanta area signed by the Braves. He played high school ball at North Atlanta High School before being drafted by the Cubs in the 18th round of the 2005 draft. The Braves drafted him in the 43rd round last June.
With this being the final class of draft and follow players, you can expect the Braves to sign a few more players before the draft next month.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta, 105.5 the Fan in Macon, and the Atlanta Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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