Braves Draft History: The Frank Wren Years, June 11 Game Thread

I was struck by a post over at the Red Sox blog Fire Brand of the AL that was a history of the Red Sox’s drafts under Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington. So I thought that I’d do the same, and recap the Braves’ six drafts from 2007 to 2012. Wren was named the GM in late 2007, which means that ’07 was Schuerholz’s last draft, and ’08-’12 were all Wren.

Here’s the record:

2007

1st round: Jason Heyward, Jon Gilmore (compensation for losing Danys Baez)

Notable picks: Freddie Freeman (2), Brandon Hicks (3), Cory Gearrin (4)

Analysis: The Braves had three picks in the first two rounds, and picked two stars and a bust. That’s a ratio you’ll take to the bank every single time. Danys Baez never did a thing in a Braves uniform but he gave the Braves a very favorable-looking draft board in 2007; shame that they couldn’t do much with the picks that they got for him, nor with any of their lower-round picks. (The Braves did have another second-round pick in 2007, and selected Josh Fields The Pitcher, but he didn’t sign, and the Mariners took him in the second round in 2008.) But, again, a draft with Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman is a pretty good draft.

2008

1st round: Brett DeVall (compensation for losing Ron Mahay)

Notable picks: Zeke Spruill (2), Craig Kimbrel (3), Paul Clemens (7), Brett Oberholtzer (8), J.J. Hoover (10)

Analysis: A reverse of 2007, the Braves didn’t get anything out of their top two picks, DeVall and second-rounder Tyler Stovall, but they managed to get a number of tradeable pitching prospects in other rounds. The Braves actually lost their 18th overall pick to the Mets for having signed free agent Tom Glavine; the Mets took Ike Davis, which looked like a good idea at the time, and the Braves got DeVall with the 40th overall pick. Spruill went to Arizona in the Justin Upton deal; Clemens and Oberholtzer went to Houston in the Michael Bourn deal; and Hoover went to Cincinnati in the Juan Francisco deal. And the Braves decided to hang onto Craig Kimbrel, which seems to have been a good move.

2009

1st round: Mike Minor

Notable picks: David Hale (2), Aaron Northcraft (7)

Analysis: Mike Minor was a controversial pick at seventh overall, but he has proven his worth and then some. However, not much in the rest of the draft has panned out. Hale still has a live arm and has made it to Triple-A, which is more than you can say for other draft picks from that year. This is not an auspicious-looking draft beyond the first round.

2010

1st round: Matt Lipka (compensation for losing Mike Gonzalez)

Notable picks: Todd Cunningham (2, compensation for losing Mike Gonzalez), Andrelton Simmons (3), Joe Leonard (3), Joey Terdoslavich (6), Brandon Drury (13), William Beckwith (21), Evan Gattis (23)

Analysis: The Braves lost their 20th overall pick in the first round after signing closer Billy Wagner, but they got a pick 15 spots later, 35th overall, for losing closer Mike Gonzalez. Outfielders Lipka and Cunningham may not turn into much, but the Braves were able to get value from Drury by sending him to Arizona in the Justin Upton deal, and Joey Terdoslavich is hitting well in Triple-A. Many of the others show up somewhere on an Atlanta Braves top 25 prospects list, which basically means that prospect hounds think that they have a nonzero chance of having a breakout year. Of course, it’s hard to imagine any of the other players being more valuable than Andrelton Simmons or Evan Gattis.

2011

1st round: Sean Gilmartin

Notable picks: Nick Ahmed (2), Kyle Kubitza (3), J.R. Graham (4), Cody Martin (7), Tommy La Stella (8), Navery Moore (14)

Analysis: The Braves wasted a 19th-round pick on Brian Snitker’s son Troy, which is suboptimal, considering that they were able to get Craig Kimbrel’s brother Matt in the 31st round in 2012. No one from the 2011 draft has made the majors yet; the best pick of the draft was looking like J.R. Graham, but he’s currently on the disabled list with a shoulder strain, which frightens the hell out of me.

2012

1st round: Lucas Sims

Notable picks: Alex Wood (2)

Analysis: It’s hard to know exactly with this draft — maybe catchers Bryan De La Rosa or Josh Elander will put it together, or someone else will emerge. But the top two picks are likely to stay the top two. Wood has already made his major league debut, of course, and he looks like he’ll have a career as long as his arm stays attached to his body. Sims is on track, too. But the Braves will have to hope that someone else emerges.

Overall Analysis: The Braves are a pretty good drafting team, especially when you compare these drafts with the Red Sox record from 2007 to the present. Really, in almost every aspect of baseball, the Braves look good when compared to almost any other team. You just have to remember to keep those comparisons in mind.

These drafts don’t look all that impressive, but you realize that the Braves are fielding quite a few of these draftees as integral parts of their team: Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, Mike Minor, Andrelton Simmons, Evan Gattis, and now Alex Wood. That doesn’t even count international free agents like Julio Teheran or amateur free agents like Brandon Beachy. So don’t get bent out of shape if the Braves have a first round bust. If you can turn one player from a draft into a core part of your lineup, or a couple players into role players and trade chips, then you’ve had a successful draft.

89 thoughts on “Braves Draft History: The Frank Wren Years, June 11 Game Thread”

  1. Hmmm. Do I sense a potential movie pitch here?

    Bethany’s Choice – in which a young Braves fan is forced to choose between the recovering star and the hot young rookie?

    (Or did they already make that film and call it Bull Durham?)

  2. Hmmm – that article seemed a bit of Small Sample Size Theater. The author correctly identified guys who were hitting poorly over the first third of the season, and identified an issue with each of them – but no indication of why it has occurred or why it should be expected to persist.

  3. BJ Upton has been our second best non-ursine hitter for the last 10-14 days.

  4. JCd from last thread

    @40
    You infer that Peter Moylan was a quality ML reliever but then state that ROOGY’s are a waste of roster space. Moylan was, and still is, a ROOGY and while Cory’s numbers against LHH have been worse than Peter’s, his numbers against RHH have been better.

  5. Argh, the 2009 draft…the Angels picked Mike Trout as compensation for losing Mark Teixeira. I try to forget that as often as I learn it but that just means it pains me every time I’m reminded.

  6. @7
    Just think that the braves wouldn’t have picked Trout. probably would’ve gone with another sp or reliever that would never amount to anything, or be traded.
    Problem solved.

  7. Moylan had a great couple of years. Gearrin is a ROOGY who also has a knack for losing it in high-leverage situations.

    For example, here’s some of Gearrin’s career numbers:

    High leverage: 61 PA, .308/.393/.462
    Medium leverage: 36 PA, .281/.361/.563
    Low leverage: 180 PA, .223/.318/.287

    Bases empty: 138 PA, .192/.268/.256
    Men on: 139 PA, .310/.413/.474

    Do you really trust him to come into a close game with runners on?

  8. @9
    And you put stock in those numbers when looking at Cory’s future performance? And if the situation to use a ROOGY presents itself again, no matter the leverage, yes I trust Cory’s stuff.

  9. Here’s the problem, as I see it. Fredi Gonzalez will occasionally use a pitcher to get a single out. But most of the time when he brings in a reliever he wants that pitcher to face more than one batter. Considering that most lineups alternate lefties and righties, that’s something that Cory really can’t do, for two reasons:

    1) He cannot get lefties out, and
    2) He is terrible with men on base.

    I don’t really mind him getting garbage time innings to prove me wrong, but I just don’t see what the role is for a ROOGY who falls apart with men on base. The whole point of a Moylan-type pitcher is that he’s able to get ground ball double plays.

  10. I too am confused by this vigorous defense of Cory Gearrin. It’s…odd. Did you go to school with him or something?

  11. Peter Moylan and Cory Gearrin’s Inherited Runners scored percentage are both 28% for their career.

  12. Did you with Fredi? 😂

    No, my defense for Gearrin is the same reason that you defend Fredi. Gearrin, in my opinion, is a good pitcher that has had 2 straight poor outings and he’s being blasted for those 2 appearances instead of being looked at realistically.

  13. He’s been bad in those outings. But I’m looking at his career stats. He’s good with the bases empty, against right-handers, and in low-leverage situations. He’s bad with men on base, against left-handers, and in medium- or high-leverage situations.

    Of all of those tendencies, which do you view as being most likely to change?

  14. Simmons 6
    Heyward 9
    JUpton 7
    Freeman 3
    McCann 2
    Uggla 4
    BUpton 8
    Pena 5
    Hudson 1

  15. Given his arm angle, I think that his platoon split will always be extreme and that he will always have a lot of trouble with lefties.

    But I’m even more concerned about the leverage/men on base thing. They’re likely related. In other words, if Cory Gearrin truly gets worse in high-pressure situations, then letting men on base is likely to contribute to that. And that just makes him somebody that I can’t trust, ever.

    On the other hand, even if he figures that out, he’ll still just be a guy who can only pitch to right-handed batters. And I’d rather have a healthy Cristhian Martinez or a healthy Luis Ayala over a ROOGY.

  16. I don’t see getting players out in high leverage as a skill but as an adaptation. Cory’s WAR per innings pitched is also better than both Ayala and Lisp.

  17. Why do you see leverage as an adaptation, not a skill? Isn’t it possible that some players are simply less effective in high-pressure situations?

    After all, some players — like John Smoltz — appeared to be demonstrably more effective in high-leverage situations.

  18. @23 I think Justin just knows how good Freddie is at getting 2-out RBIs, and so he wanted to give him the chance to get another one.

  19. @30, good point. That said, most pitchers are slightly worse in high leverage than low leverage, just like there’s a natural home field advantage. Gearrin is much more than slightly worse.

    Also, I’d be interested to see Smoltz’s postseason leverage stats.

  20. That wasn’t necessarily my point. It was more or less that Smoltz was the same no matter the leverage, reason I think Cory’s numbers won’t be so extreme the more he pitches.

  21. Powell has sounded like he’s been drinking or something this whole trip. Most entertaining

  22. All four umpires in the DBacks/Dodgers game screwed up the count during one of Puig’s at bats and they gave him four swinging strikes. The DBack pitcher and catcher nearly lost their minds trying to explain to the umps that they had the count wrong, but to no avail. Either none of the umps were paying attention, or it was just the solidarity-of-stupidity that we’ve all come to know and love from these clowns.

  23. @52

    B.J. hit it to the portion of the park where the fences remained the same. Headley hit his first-inning HR to where they were moved in 11 feet.

  24. Thanks Alex. For some reason I was thinking about that. I guess I was just trying to escape Chip’s voice

  25. Would have loved a late-inning Heyward swing like he had last night.

  26. That wasn’t even close. Justin’s got issues, but he should still be at the plate right now.

    I hope I live long enough to see robots taking over the umpiring chores.

  27. Dodgers and D-Backs are still going at it. I can’t recall the last baseball fight I saw actually go on this long.

  28. Strike 2 and 3 for Justin were balls. In fact, Ball 1 in that at-bat was (from my recollection) the exact same pitch.

  29. Hudson deserves a better fate than he is currently facing. He pitched a pretty good ballgame.

  30. True. But he also probably shouldn’t have been out to start the 8th inning. If you’re pretty sure you’re going to bring in a reliever during an inning, you might as well bring him in to start the inning, because it’s always harder to come in with men on base.

  31. Forget about lefty-righty, hurting Dan’s feelings, whatever. You pinch-hit Gattis here. This isn’t even a matter of debate.

  32. That makes Uggla 0 for 7 with 4 K’s against that guy.

    But at least he doesn’t FEEL like a loser.

  33. And absolutely no one is surprised Uggla struck out there.

    Do you think MLB would let us swap our ninth inning tonight with last night’s?

  34. Yeah, you want a .192 hitter up as your last out even though there’s another 2b in the lineup. Fredi’s non-move is so dumb it’s hard to even snark about properly.

    At least the Gnats and Phillies lost. (Wow, I’ve said that a lot lately.)

  35. Not surprised ..Freddie the worst late inning mgr in baseball .. you leave a guy in to hit who is o fer against Gregorson and leave your best clutch hitter in the dugout .. what a moron. Its not the first time this year and wont be the last. Freddie is pathetic .. and hopefully somebody will have guts to ask why in postgame and we will see how Freddie spins it.

  36. Fredi had to keep Gattis resting up in the dugout for his start tomorrow, I’m sure.

    At least we can all celebrate having no more 10:00 starts for the rest of the season.

  37. @76 Friday. We play tomorrow afternoon, are off Thursday, and back home on Friday.

  38. Wow, glad I didn’t watch the game, for a change. I got to see the Spurs absolutely dismantle the Heat. That makes up for the loss a little.

  39. I have contempt for a team that can’t even beat bad teams on the road. Braves crush bad teams at home but suck on the road. Another losing road trip and the only reason it’s not worse is because Medlen hit a home run. They will probably win a weak division and lose in the playoffs again. It’s stupid to blame the manager when you have two regulars hitting under .200, another who had three good weeks and has done nothing since, and no one to get on base. It’s talent, not managing, that wins.

  40. Ok, so the defense for Fredi not starting Gattis is that 1. The positions he plays are manned by great players, and 2. He’s really good at pinch hitting and provides a lot of value there.

    So someone want to explain to me why he’s sitting at least 25% of games and he’s not pinch hitting in each and every one of those games he sits, ESPECIALLY the ones that have a one run deficit?

  41. There is honestly no excuse. I’m hoping he’ll get a few more occasional starts at 1B and in LF, but really, he needs to make at least make a pinch-hitting appearance in every game unless the doctors have said he isn’t good to go.

    By the way, Martin Gandy is keeping a running list of the draftees to have signed, http://www.gondeee.com

  42. @82, The Padres have been playing great for about 40+ games now, and they can hit (team OPS+ 102). hey might go back to being a bad team, but they aren’t one now.

  43. Tactical managing in a baseball game is similar to playing the odds in poker or blackjack. All I ask is that our manager not do stupid stuff. Fredi does stupid stuff all the damn time. Letting Hudson hit late in the game down a run is stupid. Letting Gattis rot on the bench in a one-run game is stupid There’s literally no way you can defend those moves. He could have played both situations correctly and we still might have lost. I can live with that. This guy is a liability and we’re marginally worse with him in the dugout. The impact isn’t huge, but in evenly matched series it might be the difference.

  44. Thanks for the draft review. I don’t make it over here much anymore, but it’s fun to see a lot of familiar names.

    As for Gearrin, he seems to get a lot of what I would consider unearned raves from a set of fans. He’s a ROOGY who is not doing well against RHH right now. Maybe some overuse, but I don’t think he’s ever going to be a full-inning guy and if he can’t get RHH out consistently, he’s Brad Clontz and not much more. Moylan couldn’t do much against LHH, so he worked around it and tried not to make mistakes.

    We are probably going to need another bullpen arm before it’s all said and done. Varvaro looks to be more than Tyler Yates/Manny Acosta/Fill in the blank “power arm tease”, but I think he and Carpenter are 11th/12th low-leverage guys when all is said and done. Wood may develop as the season goes on, but I think we are going to need another high-leverage guy.

    Back to the draft, the new bonus limit/spending cap rules make for some head-scratching moves, but after cross-walking BA’s rankings with Allan Simpson’s stuff over at PG Crosschecker, it doesn’t look like the Braves moves were as totally off-the-wall as they appeared as the draft was happening.

    I think Wren has done alright. I think DeMacio’s crew is equal to Roy Clark’s in terms of assessment and we have to remember that Clark had deeper pockets with a lot of those drafts and even then, things didn’t always turn out that well. I still think Paul Snyder was the brains behind most of the Braves’ success in the draft and all successors pale in comparison to him.

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