Signability not an issue as Braves wrap Draft
Deals in place with top two picks; others expected to follow soon
Though the First-Year Player Draft just ended late Wednesday afternoon, Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio said the team has agreements in place with its first two picks and expects to quickly sign most of the 40 players selected over the past three days.
Among those expected to sign soon are pitchers Lucas Sims and Alex Wood -- Atlanta's first two selections. The Braves made Sims, a right-hander from suburban Atlanta, their first-round pick Monday night. A few hours later, he told reporters he intended to sign with his hometown team and forgo his commitment to Clemson. Wood was the Braves' second-round pick and said he would forgo his final two years of eligibility at Georgia.
DeMacio said Sims and Wood are not alone in their desire to quickly begin their professional careers.
"Most everybody has reached an agreement with us that we want to sign," DeMacio said.
Outfielder Justin Black, the Braves' fourth-round pick from Billings (Mont.) High School, tweeted Wednesday afternoon that he had signed. DeMacio confirmed Black's deal was already done.
While some of the early selections were taking care of the business side of baseball Wednesday, DeMacio was busy selecting the final 25 members of the Braves' 2012 Draft class.
The Braves made outfielder Fernelys Sanchez from George Washington High School in New York City their first pick of the day in the 16th round. Sanchez was one of the fastest players in this year's Draft and was expected to be drafted well before the 16th until he broke his fibula in March.
DeMacio said Sanchez's injury and the change in the Draft rules probably led to his sharp fall.
"Because of the injury and the way agreement is set up now, some clubs were probably reluctant to take a chance," DeMacio said.
DeMacio said Sanchez has returned to action, and after he signs, the Braves will send him to the Gulf Coast League to continue to rehabilitate.
"We hope to get him in some games this year," DeMacio said.
The Braves also drafted a pair of players they didn't sign last year. Army first baseman/right-hander Kevin McKague was picked by the Braves in the 50th round a year ago, but he elected to return to school. This year, they called his name in the 23rd round and expect him to sign.
"We took him knowing we would be able to have him this year," DeMacio said.
After this season, however, McKague's future is hazy. As a West Point graduate, he has military obligations. But DeMacio said the military is in the process of overhauling some rules and is hopeful those regarding athletes' military service will be changed.
The Braves also again drafted right-hander Matt Kimbrel, closer Craig Kimbrel's younger brother. Matt was the Braves' 32nd-round pick a year ago and went in the 31st round this year. DeMacio said he will pitch in the Atlanta area this summer, and the Braves will continue to evaluate him before deciding whether they will sign him.
In all, the Braves drafted 40 players, including 15 high school seniors. DeMacio said the new Draft rules -- which give each team a set pool of money to spend on the Draft and stiffly penalize any team that goes over with taxes and the potential loss of Draft picks -- allowed for the Braves to find some talented high school players in later rounds than normal.
"Because of new basic agreement rules, we were able to take a couple high school guys in the teens and reach agreements with some of them," DeMacio said.
It is fitting that the Braves were able to snag more high school talent in what may be the last Draft for Paul Snyder, a longtime member of the Atlanta scouting department. Snyder long advocated for taking high schoolers and developing them in the Minors. While Snyder is already technically retired, DeMacio said Snyder will take a step back now that the Draft is over.
As Snyder leaves the organization, many young players are preparing to enter it. With one pick already signed and many more on the cusp, DeMacio is pleased with this year's Draft haul.
"I'm glad to get players in the fold and get them out playing," DeMacio said. "That's the most important thing."
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.