Pitching highlights day one for the Braves

Here is a look at the Braves picks in the first day of the draft.

1S – 40 - Brett DeVall – LHP – Niceville High School in Florida – 6'3", 215 – 18 years old - 01/08/90

DeVall was rated by many as the top lefty high school pitcher in the draft. In most of the scouting reports, the word ‘polished' seems to be prevalent. The Braves saw him while he was in the East Cobb League. DeVall's size is good and his stuff is very solid. His fastball reaches 93 but is more effective in the 89-92 mph range. DeVall's change is a good pitch, but his curveball needs more work. Scouts applaud DeVall's command and believe he'll have three solid pitches. They like his presence on the mound as well. The athletic DeVall has a good idea of what to do on the mound. The key for DeVall will be turning the curve into an out pitch. This seems like the perfect type of pitcher to select with a high draft pick.

2 – 64 – Tyler Stovall – LHP – Hokes Bluff High School in Alabama – 6'1", 185 – 18 years old - 12/27/89

The numbers Stovall accumulated in his career in Alabama are staggering. He set state records with 53 wins in his career and 669 strikeouts, including 187 strikeouts in his senior season in 84 innings. He's a smart kid with exceptional makeup. Stuff-wise he's got a great curveball, and having a lefty with a plus curve is a plus. The Braves will probably improve his fastball, so he can pitch more off that instead of going to the curve too often. Stovall's velocity improved this spring to reach 93 mph, so the Braves will continue to develop that as he becomes a pro.

2 – 70 – Zeke Spruill – RHP – Kell High School in Marietta, Georgia – 6'4", 185 – 18 years old - 09/11/89

Another East Cobb product with good makeup, Spruill has good size and is very projectable. He has a good fastball that can range from 90-94 mph. Spruill's slider is average, but he'll lose that anyway and pick up a curveball with the Braves. The frame here is what has the Braves excited, as Spruill could get a bit bigger and develop his pitches over the next few years.

3 – 96 – Craig Kimbrel – RHP – Wallace State JUCO in Alabama – 5'11", 205 – 20 years old - 05/28/88

A kid that's a bit older, Kimbrel has a scholarship offer to Alabama, but the Braves will try to get him to turn pro. Kimbrel has a power arm despite his slight build, with a fastball that has topped out at 97 mph. His arm action is good, however, and the results can't be ignored. Kimbrel had 123 strikeouts in 81.1 innings and a 2.88 ERA. Some wonder if Kimbrel can develop into a reliever with his power stuff, and with Roy Clark saying Kimbrel reminded him of Joey Devine you wonder if that will be his future.

4 – 130 - Braeden Schlehuber – C – College of Southern Nevada – 6'3", 190 – 20 years old - 01/07/88

The Braves became familiar with Schlehuber as he scouted Colby Shreve, who was Atlanta's 8th round pick last year. Schlehuber is a good receiver with improving offensive skills. He draws raves for his ability behind the plate, working well with his pitchers and really being a leader on the field. Schlehuber also pitched, showing off a 93 mph fastball, which displays his arm strength throwing runners out when he's catching. Schlehuber will be the perfect older catcher to pair with these young pitchers who will move up the system together.

5 – 160 – Jacob Thompson – RHP – University of Virginia – 6'6", 215 – 21 years old - 11/19/86
Projected to be a first or second round pick before the season, Thompson struggled a bit, posting a 4.30 ERA at Virginia. But the Braves believe they got a steal with Thompson sliding to the fifth round. Thompson has good size, a fastball in the low-90s, two decent breaking balls, and a changeup he can command well. Expect the Braves to work on getting his mechanics back to where they were in his sophomore season, when he was 11-0 at Virginia with a 1.50 ERA.

6 – 190 – Adam Milligan – OF – Walters State Community College – 6'3", 210 – 20 years old - 03/14/88

Do you think the Braves like Adam Milligan? They have drafted him three times now. They love his power potential from the left side, and he showed that by hitting 19 home runs and driving in 63 for Walters State. He's a potential left fielder with solid offensive potential. The Braves like his work ethic and believe he's only going to get better.

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 and 105.5 the Fan in Macon. Email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.

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