DeVall signed in mid-July and appeared in four games (three starts) for the GCL Braves. He allowed four hits in 9.2 innings, with one run allowed, two walks, and seven strikeouts. DeVall will probably pitch in Danville next season.
TYLER STOVALL - LHP - 2nd Round
Stovall also signed in mid-July and pitched in seven games (three starts) for the GCL Braves. He was 1-1 with a 6.30 ERA, 20 hits allowed in 20 innings, 14 earned runs, 14 walks, and 29 strikeouts. The Alabama Pitcher of the Year will head to the Florida Instructional League to get more innings and will probably join DeVall in Danville in 2009.
ZEKE SPRUILL - RHP - 2nd Round
Spruill signed early and the results were positive. He led the Gulf Coast League with seven wins by going 7-0 with a 2.93 ERA in ten games (three starts). Spruill allowed 42 hits in 40 innings, with eight walks, and 32 strikeouts. Spruill might compete for a job in Rome next spring, but he'll likely wind up in Danville and join DeVall and Stovall.
CRAIG KIMBREL - RHP - 3rd Round
No player had a bigger impact after the draft than Kimbrel, who was drafted out of Wallace State in Alabama. The right-hander reminds some of Joey Devine with his small frame and his delivery, and the results have mirrored what Devine did after he was drafted in 2005. Kimbrel started in Danville, dominated the Appy League, then went to Rome and dominated the Sally League, and now Kimbrel is in Myrtle Beach as the Pelicans start the Carolina League playoffs. Overall in 23 games between the three levels, Kimbrel is 3-2 with a 0.54 ERA, 10 saves, 12 hits allowed in 33.1 innings, two earned runs, 15 walks, and 54 strikeouts. The sky's the limit for Kimbrel, who could open up in Double-A next season and see Atlanta by late 2009.
BRAEDEN SCHLEHUBER - C - 4th Round
Schlehuber was drafted out of the Community College of Southern Nevada. He hit .268 in 123 at bats for the GCL Braves with no home runs and 11 RBI. But Schlehuber got rave reviews from the coaches for his defensive ability behind the plate. Don't be surprised if he makes a solid case to start out next season in Rome.
JACOB THOMPSON - RHP - 5th Round
Thompson signed late and joined his hometown Danville Braves in mid-August. He pitched in two games and allowed one run in 4.2 innings, with a walk and five strikeouts. Then on Saturday night Thompson got a start with the Rome Braves and pitched five shutout innings with three hits allowed, one walk, and three strikeouts. Thompson was a preseason first round pick, but after his subpar junior season at Virginia he fell to the Braves in the fifth round. The Braves believed they've corrected some mechanical issues with Thompson and now he's a pitcher who could take off in 2009. Don't be shocked if he starts off in Rome next season but then quickly gets to Myrtle Beach. If Thompson does get back to the dominance he had his sophomore season in college, he's a pitcher who could climb the minor league ladder quickly.
ADAM MILLIGAN - OF - 6th Round
The Braves finally signed Milligan after drafting him three years in a row. They feel he has outstanding power potential, but he'll start off next spring. Milligan suffered a knee injury and had surgery on June 11th, so he'll get his first action next spring in Orlando. If Milligan bounces back from the surgery, he could compete for an outfield job in Rome.
PAUL CLEMENS - RHP - 7th Round
Clemens was drafted out of Louisburg Junior College in North Carolina, where he struck out 46 and walked 19 in 41.1 innings. He saw action in the GCL, Danville, and Rome after he signed and was 4-4 overall in 14 games (nine starts) with a 3.58 ERA, 65 hits allowed in 65.1 innings, 20 walks, and 59 strikeouts. Clemens throws gas, pitching consistently in the 93-95 mph range and topping out at 97 mph. Expect him to start out in Rome's rotation next season.
BRETT OBERHOLTZER - LHP - 8th Round
Drafted out of Seminole Community College in Florida, Oberholtzer was 5-3 in 13 games (11 starts) this past JUCO season with a 4.60 ERA. He allowed 51 hits in 58.2 innings, with 26 walks, and 73 strikeouts. After he signed with the Braves he pitched for the GCL team and had ten appearances (all in relief). The 6'2", 190-pound lefty was 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA, 34 hits in 37.1 innings, 10 walks, and 32 strikeouts. It'll be interesting to see where the Braves slot Oberholtzer next spring, as a reliever or as a starter.
KYLE FARRELL - RHP - 9th Round
Farrell was drafted out of Western Nevada upon the advice of his former JUCO teammate, Cole Rohrbough. Farrell was 10-2 in 15 games in junior college with a 1.71 ERA, 60 hits allowed in 84.1 innings, 36 walks, and 80 strikeouts. After he joined the GCL Braves Farrell went 0-5 in 10 games (six starts) with a 4.58 ERA, 43 hits allowed in 35.1 innings, 17 walks, and 28 strikeouts. Expect Farrell to compete for work in Danville and Rome next spring.
J.J. HOOVER - RHP - 10th Round
Hoover was the last draft pick to sign, right before the deadline on August 15th. He dominated the Alabama Community College Conference with a 1.88 ERA this past spring. Hoover was 6-4 and had 176 strikeouts in 100.2 innings pitched. After he was drafted, Hoover went to pitch in the Cape Cod League. He was 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in seven games (six starts), with 36 hits allowed in 36.1 innings, 10 earned runs, eight walks, and 38 strikeouts. Hoover then pitched in two games for the Danville Braves and did not allow an earned run in 4.2 innings. He gave up four hits, walked one, and struck out six. Hoover will now go to the Instructional League for more innings and then compete for a job in Rome's rotation next spring.
RICHARD SULLIVAN - LHP - 11th Round
The big lefty out of SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) had an impressive showing in his 12 games between Danville and Rome. Overall he was 4-2 with a 2.30 ERA, 50 hits allowed in 54.2 innings, four walks, and 49 strikeouts. This came after he was 7-4 at SCAD with a 2.36 ERA in 16 games (14 starts) this past spring. He also had 122 strikeouts and 19 walks in 107 innings. So Sullivan had a full season, and with his impressive season he'll have a good chance to either go back to Rome or up to Myrtle Beach to start the 2009 season.
DAVID FRANCIS - RHP - 12th Round
Francis was 13-1 at Walters State Community College this past spring with a 3.59 ERA. He allowed 82 hits in 90.1 innings, with 45 walks, and 88 strikeouts. Francis had to wait on his visa (he's from Canada) before he could sign in early July, but once he joined the Danville team he was a solid member of the rotation. Francis went 5-3 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 games (eight starts), with 38 hits allowed in 53.2 innings, 17 walks, and 69 strikeouts. On July 22nd, Francis struck out 16 batters in six ho-hit innings of work. The right-hander will probably be in the Rome rotation to start 2009, but if he pitches like he did in Danville he might not be there for long.
TRAVIS ADAIR - SS - 13th Round
The son of former Braves' pitching instructor Rick Adair, Travis was drafted out of Cleveland State Community College in Tennessee. He hit .289 with the GCL Braves with no home runs, 20 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and a .355 on base percentage. Adair played mostly at shortstop, but he also had games at second base and at third base. He's a versatile infielder with decent speed, and Adair will compete for a job in Rome in March.
JAKE HANSON - 3B - 14th Round
Drafted out of Sabino High School in Tucson, Arizona, Hanson was the main third baseman for the GCL Braves. He hit .246 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 171 at bats. Hanson was tied for third in the GCL with 36 runs scored. He'll probably be in Danville next season, since Jon Gilmore is slated to go to Rome as the starting third baseman.
LAYTON HILLER - OF - 15th Round
Hiller was the second outfielder drafted by the Braves. He hit .203 in the GCL with five home runs and 18 RBI in 133 at bats. Hiller will probably be in Danville next season.
ROBERT BROOKS - 2B - 20th Round
Brooks was third in the GCL with a .426 on base percentage and fourth in the league with a .329 batting average. He also added three home runs and drove in 20. Brooks was the GCL's main second baseman, and he also had a few games at shortstop. He'll be scheduled for Danville next season, with a chance at seeing action in Rome as well.
TYLER BARNETT - SS - 21st Round
Barnett was drafted out of Eastern Kentucky. He hit only .181 with four RBI in 94 at bats in the GCL. Barnett played 17 games at second base and 15 games at shortstop, so right now he's a utility-type infielder who could be in Danville and/or Rome next season.
CASEY HODGES - RHP - 23rd Round
Drafted out of Mount Olive College in North Carolina, where he went 10-1 in 17 games (15 starts) and had a 2.53 ERA. Hodges, the son of former major league catcher Ron Hodges, allowed 74 hits in 89 innings, with 20 walks, and 87 strikeouts in college. Then he went 4-5 in Danville with a 2.47 ERA in 12 games (all starts). Hodges allowed 57 hits in 69.1 innings, 19 earned runs, 16 walks, and 56 strikeouts. Hodges is not a hard thrower, and he's drawn comparisons to Mississippi right-hander Todd Redmond. He'll probably be in Rome's rotation next spring, and if he does well he could wind up in Myrtle Beach before the end of the season.
SHAYNE MOODY - SS - 24th Round
Moody played 58 games in Danville and hit .272 with no home runs and 15 RBI, along with a .344 OBP. Moody played all but one game at shortstop, with the other game at second base. He'll compete for a job in Rome as the starting shortstop next spring.
CALVIN CULVER - OF - 26th Round
Culver hit .252 in the GCL with two home runs and 25 RBI in 218 at bats. The right-handed hitter will probably be in Danville next season.
CHRIS SHEHAN - OF - 30th Round
After winning the Southern Conference Player of the Year award by hitting .428 with 22 home runs at Georgia Southern, Shehan had a productive first season in pro ball. He hit .277 in Danville with five home runs and knocking in 22 runs. Shehan's OBP in Danville was .350. He is getting a cup of coffee in Rome at the end of the season and has five hits in his first 14 at bats, with five runs batted in. Shehan will probably return to Rome to start the 2009 season. He's a solid offensive prospect, with a good right-handed bat.
ADAM BULLARD - RHP - 43rd Round
Bullard was a late round pick out of Gardner-Webb, where he was a reliever and posted a 4.53 ERA in 25 games (only three starts). Bullard had 44 strikeouts in 57.2 innings pitched in college. After he signed, Bullard pitched in 11 games in Danville (4.09 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 22 innings) and four games in Rome (11.88 ERA in 8.1 innings). He'll be in the mix for a bullpen job in Rome next spring.
The Braves signed their first 16 draft picks and 23 overall. Obviously, this was a pitching-oriented draft, with 13 of the 23 being pitchers and 11 of the first 13 drafted being pitchers. The success of Spruill, Kimbrel, Sullivan, and Francis has the front office excited about this draft. They believe they've gotten Thompson on track, and the younger kids (DeVall and Stovall in particular) made solid progress. So the Braves are very optimistic that this will be a very quality draft, and that the depth the system will enjoy next season in the pitching staffs will be do to the June 2008 draft.
Bill Shanks hosts The Atlanta Baseball Show on 680 the Fan in Atlanta and The Bill Shanks Show on SportsRadio 105.5 the Fan in Macon. He 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. You can email Bill at email@example.com.