Those that read this blog last summer know how much I enjoy the MLB Draft. While over half of the 1st round picks that are going to be made this June will never sniff the Big Leagues, the strategies and local flavor always get me excited about this event.
This year is no different. Actually, there is one big difference in the draft order. The Braves hold the 7th pick this year after a horrendous 72-90 season last year. No more “hold your breath and pray Jason Hayword drops to us” moments. The Braves can take just about anyone they want that is not named Steven Strausburg. Plus, there is a local high school product that would make perfect sense with this 7th pick, Donovan Tate.
Donovan is the son of Lars Tate, former UGA and Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back. He is an elite football player, signing a scholarship to play both football and baseball at UNC-Chapel Hill. But he will never become a Tar Heel. His baseball gifts remind scouts of B.J. Upton, a former #2 overall pick. He is an athletic outfielder with a good arm and powerful stick - probably too good of a prospect for Atlanta to pass on.
The draft also has a local flavor with UGA’s Rich Poythress a possible top 15 pick. Poythress, out of Augusta , has been among the top 1-2 in the SEC this season in AVG, HR, RBI, Runs, OBP, SLG, and Walks. He compares favorably to last seasons first basemen that went in the top 10, Yonder Alonso and Justin Smoak. Also at the collegiate level, Kyle Heckathorn (6’6 RHP from Kennesaw St ) is a probably 1st round pick.
At the high school level, talents Luke Bailey and Zach Wheeler are likely to join Tate as 1st round picks. Bailey, out of Troup High in Lagrange, has a 1.78 pop time behind the plate and hits for ton of power (Auburn signee). Wheeler, from East Paulding, is a right-handed pitcher who throws 93-94 with a devastating slider.