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Braxton Davidson Rumors
THURSDAY: The Braves are getting close to a deal with first-round pick Braxton Davidson, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com. According to Bowman, Davidson will graduate from high school this weekend and then make the three-hour drive from his home in Asheville, N.C. to Atlanta in order to sign his first pro contract. Davidson is expected to sign near the slot value of $1.705MM, according to Bowman.
Davidson was ranked as the draft’s No. 16 prospect on the Top 100 list of ESPN’s Keith Law. Baseball America ranked the slugging high school first baseman/outfielder No. 35, and MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo ranked him 36th.
Law’s scouting report notes that when Davidson is at his best, he has one of the best swings in the draft class and at one point looked to perhaps have more upside than any hitter — college or high school — in this year’s draft class. Davidson draws praise for his ability to hit the ball to all fields — an element of his game that he discussed with me in depth when I spoke with him for MLBTR’s Draft Prospect Q&A series. Last June, Davidson set a tournament record with three homers in four games at the Tournament of the Stars, and that power along with an improved hit tool and a notable drop in strikeouts, helped boost Davidson’s draft stock in 2014. Davidson is regarded across the board as one of the best bats in this year’s class.
The Braves have just $4.5577MM to spend on this year’s draft — the third-lowest amount of any team — which is a reflection of both their strong finish in 2013 and the fact that they forfeited a draft pick to ink Ervin Santana in Spring Training. As Bowman notes, they’ve already agreed to deals with second-rounder Garrett Fulenchek, third-rounder Max Povse and fourth-rounder Chad Sobotka.
Photo courtesy of Kathryn Sizemore/Golden Fleece Media.
The first day of the 2014 draft is complete, and as many expected, the Astros selected high school left-hander Brady Aiken with the No. 1 overall pick. The team is in no hurry to sign Aiken, however, the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reports (Twitter links). Still,the Astros are understandably excited about the player they drafted. “This is the most advanced high school pitcher I’ve ever seen in my entire career,” says GM Jeff Luhnow. “He has command like I’ve never seen before.”
Here’s more from the draft’s first day…
- The Cubs turned some heads by selecting Indiana catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall pick, but scouting director Jason McLeod told reporters that Schwarber was No. 2 on the team’s draft board all along. ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers quotes McLeod (on Twitter) as saying that Schwarber trailed only Aiken on their board, though as the Chicago Sun Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer tweets, McLeod did acknowledge that the pick will save them some money. The Cubs are expecting him to sign quickly.
- Braves top pick Braxton Davidson says he will sign rather than attending UNC, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Davidson’s slot — No. 32 overall — carries a $1.7054MM value, per Baseball America. I spoke with Davidson as part of MLBTR’s Draft Prospect Q&A series.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish hears that the Dodgers and No. 62 overall pick Alex Verdugo already have an agreement in place, and the ASU commit will not be attending college (Twitter link). VP of amateur scouting Logan White tells MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick that Verdugo, a two-way prospect, will start as a center fielder and convert to pitching if he doesn’t hit well (Twitter link).
- MLB.com’s Corey Brock spoke with Padres scouting director Billy Gasparino and got the impression that the team will shift its focus on jump on some arms tomorrow (Twitter link). San Diego drafted a pair of bats today in UNC shortstop Trea Turner and prep outfielder Michael Gettys.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
MLBTR is re-launching its Draft Prospect Q&A series this season in order to give our readers a look at some of the top names on the board in this year’s draft. MLBTR will be chatting with some of the draft’s most well-regarded prospects over the next couple of weeks as they prepare for the 2014 draft on June 5-7.
In a draft that’s light on impact college bats, many clubs will be looking toward the high school ranks in search of adding some thump to their lineup down the road, and first baseman/outfielder Braxton Davidson of T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, N.C., figures to be one of the top prep bats off the board in the 2014 draft.
The 6’3″, 215-pound Davidson boasts a strong left-handed swing and the ability to drive the ball to all fields, per scouting reports. Both Baseball America and MLB.com rank him 36th among draft prospects, while ESPN’s Keith Law is even more bullish, pegging him as the No. 16 prospect in the 2014 draft class.
Davidson’s pop drew quite a bit of attention at last June’s Tournament of the Stars, as noted by both BA and MLB.com in their scouting reports. He set a tournament record with three homers in four games, including one that traveled an estimated 500 feet. BA notes that improvements in his hit tool this season may have that tool ahead of his power in game action, and Law notes that he has “no wasted motion” in his swing when he’s at his best.
Davidson was kind enough to take some time out of a very busy schedule for a phone interview with me and discuss improvements to his game over the past year, his defensive preferences and his close relationship with a current big leaguer…