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With high schoolers out, Braves go college route

With high schoolers out, Braves go college route

With high schoolers out, Braves go college route
ATLANTA -- The Braves have historically been a team that focused almost entirely on the high school ranks during the First-Year Player Draft.

That seems to have changed.

As Day 2 of the 2011 Draft progressed, the Braves began selecting one college player after another, spending each of their first 10 picks on collegiate athletes.

It wasn't until the 356th overall selection that Atlanta took prep infielder Seth Moranda from Buchanan High School in California. It continued a theme that began last year, when the club used eight of its first 10 selections on college athletes.

In all, just three of the Braves' first 30 selections were high school products.

But according to general manager Frank Wren and director of scouting Tony DeMacio, that was not by design.

"[On Monday], with all of those extra picks, it sort of blew everything up," DeMacio said. "You had to take what was left on the board [Tuesday], because there were so many picks before we picked again."

After the Braves took left-handed pitcher Sean Gilmartin from Florida State with the 28th overall selection, 56 more picks were made before the Braves found themselves on the clock again.

Sixteen of those went to the Rays and Blue Jays.

"I think one of the things for us that was unfortunate [was] there were so many compensation picks," Wren said. "There were 30 compensation picks between our first round and our second round, that many of the high school players that we did have interest in were taken in those rounds.

"It's really just been a function of how the Draft has fallen."

But by no means were Wren and DeMacio disappointed with the players they grabbed.

"We were going for the very best, what we felt were the best prospects," Wren said. "We're happy with the guys we've gotten so far. It's just shifted more toward college players because the high school players are off the board."

The Braves drafted position players with three of their first five Day 2 picks, starting with University of Connecticut shortstop Nick Ahmed in the second round.

A co-captain for the Huskies, Ahmed is currently hitting .333 (61-for-183) with 11 doubles, 35 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. He's among the Big East leaders in steals (fourth), runs scored (fifth, 51) and assists (third, 189).

"He's got good speed, he's a rat," DeMacio said. "He's one of those kind of kids that's dirty all of the time. He's another kid that has enough versatility to do a lot of different things through the middle of the diamond."

Two of Ahmed's teammates, George Springer and Matt Barnes, were drafted in the first round on Monday night. DeMacio went to Clemson, S.C., to scout Amed during the Huskies' NCAA Regionals, much to the surprise of those around the area.

"We sort of snuck out of here the other day and went to the Regional," DeMacio said. "Everybody thought we were up there to see the outfielder and the pitcher when really we went to see him. ... We all came away liking what we saw."

In the third round, the Braves took Texas State third baseman Kyle Kubitza, who was selected to the All-Southland Conference First Team in each of the past two seasons. He hit .310 (70-for-226) with 10 homers, 12 doubles, seven triples and 66 RBIs this year, and he walked a conference-high 54 times.

"He's a power, left-handed-hitting corner guy," DeMacio said of Kubitza, who stands 6-foot-3. "We're going to give him every chance to play third base. If not, we feel like he can move to a corner outfield [spot]. He's got a plus arm. Another dirt player, one of those type of guys."

The Braves took their only other pitcher in the top five rounds next, drafting Santa Clara right-hander J.R. Graham in the fourth round. Graham's walks per nine innings (0.68) ranks fourth nationally, while his fastball reaches the upper 90s. He's hit 100 mph several times in college.

DeMacio said Graham will begin his career in the Braves' organization as a starter.

"He's a big arm. He's a power arm," DeMacio said. "Whether he stays [a starter] or not, he's a big arm. Our guys really liked him. He's a conversion guy. He was a shortstop, so he's in his second year of pitching."

The Braves drafted junior college catcher Nick DeSantiago from Blinn to round out the top five selections. He hit .313 (36-for-115) with four doubles, three homers and 19 RBIs this season.

"Catching is hard to find," DeMacio said. "He's big, he's strong and he's got some pop in his bat. Maybe one of those unknowns that maybe can hit hard. But he can catch and throw."

DeSantiago played his freshman year at the University of Texas and was drafted by the Nationals in the 33rd round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at noon ET Wednesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

• RHP Mark Lamm, Vanderbilt (Sixth round, 206th overall)

Lamm went 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA in 26 2/3 innings and gave up just six earned runs this year for the Commodores. He struck out 20 in that span, walking just three. He did not pitch in 2010 for Vanderbilt after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

• RHP Cody Martin, Gonzaga (Seventh round, 236th overall)

Martin led Gonzaga in both ERA (0.86) and appearances (25), and gave up just five earned runs in 52 1/3 innings this season, recording 63 strikeouts with 19 walks. He was invited to the Team USA National Team Trials in 2009. His father, Charles, played for the Braves, as well.

• 2B Thomas La Stella, Coastal Carolina (Eighth round, 266th overall)

La Stella led the Chanticleers with a .398 average this season with 14 homers and 70 RBIs. He was named to the All-Big South First Team in 2010, and his 93 hits that year ranked second in the Big South while his .977 fielding percentage was a Coastal Carolina single-season record for a second baseman.

• LF Chase Larsson, Cameron University (Ninth round, 296th overall)

Larsson was named the 2011 Tino Martinez Division II Player of the Year this season after leading DII in homers (29), RBIs (84), slugging percentage (1.000) and total bases (190).

• SS Logan Robbins, Western Kentucky (10th Round, 326th overall)

Robbins led the Hilltoppers with 20 stolen bases this season and hit .286 (57-for-199) with 12 doubles, two triples and 33 RBIs.

• IF Seth Moranda, Buchanan HS (Calif.) (11th Round, 356th overall)

A commitment to Fresno State University, Moranda was named to the California All-Region First Team this season.

• LHP Matthew Chaffee, Arizona (12th Round, 386th overall)

Both his 2009 and 2010 campaigns with the Wildcats came to abrupt ends because of season-ending injuries. Despite that, he led Arizona with 36 appearances this season, compiling a 6-3 record and a 4.85 ERA. He gave up 23 earned runs in 42 2/3 innings with 59 strikeouts and 21 walks.

• CF Anthony Mueller, Winona State University (13th Round, 416th overall)

Mueller was second all-time in hits at WSU with 228 in his three seasons, and has already decided to forego his senior season with the Warriors. He was a two-time All-Region and All-NSIC selection, and is the only player in school history with two seasons of at least 80 hits.

• RHP Navery Moore, Vanderbilt (14th Round, 446th overall)

Moore led the Commodores with 28 appearances this season, compiling a 4-2 record with a 1.21 ERA in 29 2/3 innings. He was selected by the Red Sox in the 26th round in 2008 out of high school.

• RHP Francis Cornely, Wofford College (15th Round, 476th overall)

Cornely recorded a 1.85 ERA and a 2-1 record this season for the Terriers, allowing eight earned runs in 39 innings. He issued 17 walks to his 48 strikeotus.

• RHP Adam Holland, Saint Joseph's (16th Round, 506th overall)

Holland started 13 games for the Hawks this season, going 2-8 with a 5.04 ERA. He allowed 34 earned runs in 60 2/3 innings.

• RHP August Schlosser, Florida Southern College (17th Round, 536th overall)

Schlosser started 14 games this season, going 7-1 with a 2.90 ERA. He led the team in innings pitched (96 1/3) and was second on the club in strikeouts (82).

• RHP Greg Ross, Frostburg State University (18th Round, 566th overall)

Ross led the team in wins (11), starts (13), innings pitched (90 2/3) and strikeouts (112). He compiled a 1.49 ERA in that span, allowing 15 earned runs while giving up no homers.

• C Troy Snitker, North Georgia College (19th Round, 596th overall)

The son of Braves third-base coach Brian Snitker, Troy led the Saints with a .340 (68-for-200) average with six homers and 44 RBIs.

• LHP Carlos Rodriguez, Iolani High School, Hawaii (20th Round, 626th overall)

Regarded by many as the No. 1 player in the state of Hawaii, Rodriguez is committed to play baseball at Oregon State University. He was third team All-State this year after striking out 56 in 39 2/3 innings this season.

• RHP Jarett Miller, UNC Greensboro (21st Round, 656th overall)

Miller went 4-2 with a 4.01 ERA and three saves this year for the Spartans, allowing 27 earned runs in 60 2/3 innings. He was second on the club with 66 strikeouts.

• RHP Clint Wright, Columbia State Community College (22nd Round, 686th overall)

Wright, who stands 6-foot-6 and weighs over 200 pounds, went 5-2 for Columbia State this year with a 3.83 ERA. He allowed 57 hits in 54 innings, striking out 47 while walking 16. He is committed to Austin Peay.

• OF Samuel Munson, Tennessee Wesleyan College (23rd Round, 716th overall)

Munson, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 218 pounds, hit .354 with six homers and 31 RBIs this season while stealing 17 bases.

• CF Brian Stamps, Oregon State (24th Round, 746th overall)

Stamps hit .270 with 11 doubles and 23 RBIs this year for the Beavers after transferring from Sacramento College, where we won the Rawlings Gold Glove Award at shortstop.

• OF Will Skinner, Middle Tennessee State (25th Round, 776th overall)

Skinner was selected to the All-Sun Belt Second Team this season after leading the conference in homers (16), slugging percentage (.655) and total bases (144).

• SS Kirk Walker, Oklahoma City University (26th Round, 806th overall)

Walker, who won the 2010 Gold Glove Award at the NAIA World Series, hit .423 this season with eight homers and 72 RBIs while stealing 16 bases. In the field, he had nine errors and a .967 fielding percentage.

• RHP Charlie Robertson, Fresno State (27th Round, 836th overall)

Robertson recorded a 3.51 ERA and 12 saves this season for the Bulldogs, but went 0-5. He led Fresno State with 24 appearances while giving up 13 earned runs in 33 1/3 innings. He was drafted by the Rangers in the 29th round of the 2008 Draft.

• LHP Matthew Talley, The Citadel (28th Round, 866th overall)

Talley went 3-7 for the Bulldogs this season, but led the rotation with a 3.95 ERA. He allowed 36 earned runs in 82 innings, striking out 72 and issuing 29 walks. He was drafted by the D-backs in the 25th round of the Draft last year.

• C Chad Comer, University of Texas at Arlington (29th Round, 896th overall)

Comer earned a spot on the All-Southland Conference Second Team this season after hitting .296 with 12 doubles and 29 RBIs. He had consecutive seasons throwing out at least 20 base runners in 2009-10.

• OF Jonathan Youngblood, Lafayette High School, Ky. (30th Round, 926th overall)

Youngblood is listed as a center fielder for Lafayette and stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 175 pounds.

Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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