06/05/2003 12:35 AM ET
Braves sign nine picks
ATLANTA -- Now that the Braves have completed the selection process in the this year's First-Year Player Draft, they have moved one step closer to being able to call it a success by already signing nine of their draft picks.
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Braves director of scouting Roy Clark said he felt confident that he would be able to sign many of the club's top selections. By early Wednesday evening, he was proud to know that each of the club's top four selectees were among those that had already signed.
"We haven't changed our approach with the type of players we are selecting," Clark said.
"But we did change it up a little bit this year by having our scouts in their houses last night to get them signed. It's worked out so far."
Luis Atilano, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who were selected in the supplemental round, and Joseph Reyes and Paul Bacot, second-round selections, have already signed with the Braves.
In addition, the club has also announced the signings of Matt Harrison (third round) Jamie Romak (fourth round), Sean White (eighth round) Adam Stanley (ninth round) and Glen Tucker (11th round).
"Our scouts have done a great job," Clark said. "Now we'll just keep plugging along."
Clark said he believes the club is also close to signing Jacob Stevens, a left-handed pitcher from Cape Coral High School, who was one of the Braves' two third-round selections. If they do indeed sign him, they will have already wrapped up each of their first seven selections.
When teams are evaluating potential draftees, a player's signability is almost as important as any of his physical abilities. Many organizations, because of this, have began to draft more and more college players, who are both more mature and possess less leverage than high school players, who have the option of going the college route.
"We see that other teams are beginning to turn to more college players," Braves director of scouting Roy Clark said.
"We see this as an opportunity to go out and grab some of the top high school players that have a high ceiling."
By the time the two-day drafting session concluded on Wednesday, the Braves had selected 53 players, 33 of which were high school talent. To further prove the organization's desire to continue pursuing high school talent, one only has to look at the fact that there were just two college players among their first 12 selections.
Atilano, one of 11 pitchers selected with the Braves first 13 picks, is described as a pitcher in the likeness of Expos ace Javier Vazquez, who is also from Puerto Rico. The 18-year-old right-hander showed great improvement over the past year and sold the Braves when he came to Atlanta to throw off the Turner Field mound last week.
"He's a great kid," Clark said.
"He had that fire in his eyes when he got out there to pitch. That's something that you want to see. He's got great determination and has worked hard."
Saltalamacchia, who said it was a dream come true to be selected by the Braves, was considered to be the best high school catcher in the draft. He was one of six catchers the Braves chose in this year's selection process.
"We think we got a special one there," Clark said of Saltalamacchia, who has played for the USA Junior Olympic Team both of the past two summers.
This was fourth draft that Clark has directed for the Braves. His first experience in that capacity came in 2000, a draft that landed a number of prospects who may be playing in the Majors within the next two years.
"Right now, there are 29 other scouting directors going to their general managers and telling them what a great draft they had," Clark said.
"We'll see in three years. But right now, we feel like this could be a special one."