Catcher Cumberland brings big bat to Braves

Catcher Cumberland brings big bat to Braves

ATLANTA -- Although some talent evaluators might be concerned about Brett Cumberland's catch-and-throw abilities, the Braves thought enough of the University of California-Berkeley catcher's bat to take him with the 76th overall selection in the MLB Draft, which began on Thursday.

"The catch is probably going to be average and the arm is probably going to be average," Braves scouting director Brian Bridges said. "You're betting on the bat. He's a hit-first catcher."

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

3rd overall: Ian Anderson
40th overall: Joey Wentz
44th overall: Kyle Muller

Cumberland was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and a USA Baseball Golden Spikes semifinalist after he batted .344 and hit 16 home runs during his recently completed sophomore Draft-eligible season for Cal. The switch-hitting catcher was ranked by MLB.com as the 69th-best prospect in this year's Draft.

"It's always nice to have the catch-and-throw, but it's not bad to have the opposite, too, if you have the average catch and the average throw with a guy that has a chance to hit from both sides of the plate," Bridges said. "That's a benefit for an organization, too."

Cumberland became the first position player drafted this year by the Braves, who used their first three picks on high school pitchers -- right-hander Ian Anderson (selected third overall), Joey Wentz (40th) and Kyle Muller (44th). The organization recognizes its pipeline already has a tremendous wealth of pitching and some holes in the position player department.

But instead of falling into the oft-disastrous trap of drafting for need at the expense of forsaking quality, Bridges was not going to pass on the chance to gain three of this Draft's 25-best prospects, all of whom just happened to be pitchers.

"There were bats targeted, but you can't control what happens in the Draft," Bridges said. "When it comes down to it, you just have to take the best available player. As it fell, we couldn't be happier than we are with the players we got."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.