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06/05/07 10:00 AM ET

Draft rule changes won't affect Braves

Two Georgia high school stars top Atlanta's list of favorites

For many years, Braves director of scouting Roy Clark and his staff have prided themselves on their ability to project a later-round Draft choice's talents one year, and then track that player through the completion of his next season at the high school or collegiate level.

If that player lives up to projections, he's often put himself in position to be drafted much higher in the following year's Draft. But until this year, the Braves and every other Major League team had the ability to sign each of their draftees up until the point of the next year's Draft.

The practice, known as "draft-and-follow," was ended with the new collective bargaining agreement, which includes a clause that states all selections in the First-Year-Player Draft must be signed by Aug. 15. If not, they go back into the next year's Draft pool.

"Right now, I don't know how it's going to affect us," Clark said. "But I can tell you, we're going to be just as aggressive as we've always been. We're going to take the same players that we would have in the past. We're just going to have to make earlier decisions about them."

Two of the top prospects in the ever-fruitful Braves Minor League system, Brandon Jones and Tommy Hanson, were both draft-and-follow selections.

The 2007 First-Year Player Draft will take place on Thursday and Friday at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla.

The Braves will have three of the top 70 picks in this year's Draft. With the 14th selection in the Draft, they may have an opportunity to take Josh Smoker, a hard-throwing left-handed high school pitcher out of Georgia. They may also have an interest in North Carolina high school lefty Madison Bumgarner. In order to fill the organization's outfield depth, they may also have their sights set on Jason Heyward, an Atlanta-area high school star.

"Every Draft is different," Braves director of baseball operations Paul Snyder said. "It's not like poker. You can't force the cards."

MLB.com will broadcast every pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Day 1 coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET, with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. Video coverage of the remaining rounds on Day 1 will air on MLB.com, with live interviews and analysis from Orlando by Casey Stern, Jonathan Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Dave Rawnsley. Day 2 of the Draft will get underway at 11:30 a.m. ET and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live at MLB.com with analysis from Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Allan Simpson.

Also once again this year, fans can follow every pick with MLB.com's live Draft Tracker, a searchable database of every draft-eligible player featuring biographical data, statistics, scouting reports and rare scouting video.

Draft 2007 | Complete Coverage
Top MLB Draft Picks
Pick POS Name School
1. TB LHP David Price Vanderbilt U
2. KC SS Michael Moustakas Chatsworth HS (Calif.)
3. CHC 3B Josh Vitters Cypress HS (Calif.)
4. PIT LHP Daniel Moskos Clemson U
5. BAL C Matthew Wieters Georgia Tech
6. WSH LHP Ross Detwiler Missouri St U
7. MIL LF Matthew LaPorta U Florida
8. COL RHP Casey Weathers Vanderbilt U
9. ARI RHP Jarrod Parker Norwell HS
10. SF LHP Madison Bumgarner South Caldwell HS
Complete Draft list >

Club's recent top selections:
2006: When the Braves took Cody Johnson with the 24th pick in the 2006 Draft, they knew that he might experience some immediate struggles as a 17-year-old. But they weren't exactly expecting to see him hit .184 and strike out 49 times in 114 at-bats at the Gulf Coast League level.

2005: Joey Devine, taken with the 27th pick out of North Carolina State, still has the potential to be a top reliever at the Major League level. He was rushed to the big leagues two months after being drafted and ended up allowing a number of forgettable homers, including the one that ended the 2005 National League Division Series against the Astros. Now that Devine's overcome the back injury that plagued him last season, he's seemingly regaining his successful form at the Minor League level.

2004: Jarrod Saltalamacchia came to the Majors in early May, and it appears this powerful switch-hitting catcher is there to stay. With Brian McCann in place, the Braves must decide whether to move him to a different position or possibly use him in a trade.

Rising Fast: Jones, taken in the 24th round in 2003 and signed just before the 2004 Draft, appears ready to battle for one of Atlanta's outfield positions next year. He has great athleticism and his power has been on display at Double-A Mississippi this season.

Cinderella Story: Jamie Richmond, taken in the 31st round of the 2004 Draft and signed on May 31, 2005, is getting his feet wet in the South Atlantic League this year. But his dominance in the Rookie Level Appalachian League made this 21-year-old Canadian a legitimate prospect who is known throughout baseball.

In the Show: During this past Saturday's game at Wrigley Field, the Braves starting lineup included Saltalamacchia and Yunel Escobar, who was taken in the second round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. Devine is another member of the club's past three Draft classes to have already tasted life at the Major League level.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.