–1996 Draft Picks

With their first-round pick, the Braves took A. J. Zapp, a high school first baseman who has never played in the majors. With their 53rd round pick, they took Marcus Giles. That’s the draft for you.

Zapp never did anything with the Braves. He was hurt a lot early in his career. He was 21 before he played a full minor league season, and then hit .229/.300/.444 (OBP approximate) which was pretty much what he did in the Braves’ organization: low batting averages, some walks, decent power. Then he started getting hurt again. His time ran out in 2003 and he went to Seattle and now is with the Reds, hardly the place to be if you’re a corner player, especially one hitting .233/.296/.380. The Taiwanese League awaits.

The Braves got a supplementary first rounder that year as compensation for not signing Chad Hutchinson. With that pick, they took Jason Marquis. Worked out pretty well, though Marquis wore out his welcome in Atlanta. It’s my belief that if the Braves had settled on a steady role for him that he would have enjoyed the same success that he has in St. Louis. (He’s 6-3 with a 3.39 ERA this year, BTW. Not all the pitchers the Braves trade away flop.)

The Braves took Eric Munson in the second round. This was a total flyer, because everyone was pretty sure he’d go to college, as he did. You’re probably generally familiar with Munson, who was the third pick in the 1999 draft out of Southern Cal but has never put it all together. Munson is currently — you can’t make this stuff up — with the Devil Rays’ AAA team.

The Braves went back to drafting football players next, taking Junior Brignac. After an undistinguished minor league career, Brignac like so many others went back to football, where he was on the roster (but apparently didn’t play much) for Cal last year.

College pitcher Joe Nelson was the fourth rounder. Nelson actually made it up to the Braves briefly in 2001, but pitched about as poorly as you possibly can. He pitched almost as badly in a callup with the Red Sox last year, but he still gets a ring. I don’t have to tell you who pays him now, do I?

The Braves got Mark DeRosa in the seventh round. DeRosa was in retrospect a pretty good utility infielder but stretched as a regular. He never did make the jump forward I thought he would. Mike Hessman was a fifteenth rounder, and provided many pleasant breezes during his callup last year. Hessman’s with the Tigers organization now, but it’s only a matter of time before he starts apartment hunting in Durham. I mention 23rd round catcher Dax Norris only because he went to Alabama. He’s still playing, now with the Astros organization.

Marcus was a draft-and-follow, taken out of high school then signed after a year in junior college. Obviously he wasn’t considered anything more than roster filler, but turned out to be a pretty good pick.