Draft Rewind: Ranking Braves' top first-round picks since 1990
The Braves landed a player in Vanderbilt's Kyle Wright that they believe was the best in the 2017 MLB Draft class with the fifth pick Monday night, then at 41st, grabbed local star Drew Waters out of Woodstock's Etowah High School.
Like every team, Atlanta believes it nailed the opening round, with scouting director Brian Bridges saying "We really feel real happy in that room right now (with) where we are, given the landscape."
Without a Dansby Swanson-like sprint through the minors (or in terms of Braves draftees, Bob Horner who went straight to the majors) the answer to how they ultimately did in the first round will be years away.
Since taking Chipper Jones with No. 1 overall pick in 1990, Atlanta has had its share of hits, even if they ultimately hit in another uniform. These are the organization's best first-round picks -- with the caveat that they've made their MLB debuts -- since selecting the future Hall of Famer.
No. 9 -- Jason Hursh, RHP (31st pick, 2013)
The jury is still out on the righty that the Braves took out of Oklahoma State. Hursh has made two appearances this season, allowing two hits and zero runs over three innings, but last season posted a 33.75 ERA in 1 1/3, buoyed by allowing four runs to the five batters he faced Aug. 17 against the Twins. But, by no fault of his own, there has been a bigger spotlight placed on the Hursh pick this season as he was taken one spot before the Yankees grabbed Aaron Judge.
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No. 8 -- Joey Devine, RHP (27th pick, 2005)
His time with the Braves wasn't spectacular, as Devine posted a 6.86 ERA over 25 games, was the first pitcher in history to allow grand slams in each of his first two games and in the 2005 postseason gave up a walk-off homer to the Astros' Chris Burke that ended Atlanta's season. But he found himself in Oakland after being dealt with Jamie Richmond for Mark Kotsay. In '08, Devine gave up 23 hits in 45 2/3 innings, limited batters to an MLB-best .148 averages and posted a 0.59 ERA. He finished sixth in ROY balloting that year.
No. 7 -- Jason Marquis, RHP (35th pick, 1996)
Part of the five-player trade -- along with Adam Wainwright -- with the Cardinals in 2003 that brought J.D. Drew to Atlanta, Marquis had a 4.45 ERA in 96 games over four seasons with the Braves before going on to become a winner of a Silver Slugger award in 2005 and an All-Star in '09. While he's been out of MLB since 2015 after being designated for assignment by the Reds, he did perform well for Team Israel in this spring's World Baseball Classic with a 0.93 ERA in 9 2/3 innings.
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No. 6 -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C (36th pick, 2003)
Saltalamacchia had an eye-opening 2006 at Class A, hitting .314 with 35 doubles and 19 homers in 129 games, putting him in the top 20 of 'Baseball America's top 100. Ultimately blocked by mainstay Brian McCann, Saltalamacchia was dealt to the Rangers along with Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones in 2007 in exchange for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay. Saltalamacchia would win a World Series with the Red Sox in '13, peaking that season with a 3.5 WAR. He's currently with the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate.
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No. 5 -- Mike Minor, LHP (7th pick, 2009)
Before this year's selection of Kyle Wright at No. 5 and taking Ian Anderson third in the 2016 draft, Minor was the Braves' last top-10 pick. The Vanderbilt product set an Atlanta rookie record with 12 strikeouts on Aug. 22 against the Cubs and over his first five seasons posted a 4.10 ERA over 110 starts with 566 Ks. But in 2014 he began dealing with shoulder issues and rotator cuff inflammation, and later underwent surgery for a torn labrum. The Braves opted not to tender him a contract in 2015 and he would not appear in a MLB game again until this season with the Royals.
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No. 4 -- Kelly Johnson, INF/OF (38th pick, 2000)
One of the first four Baby Braves to make their MLB debuts in 2005, Johnson hit .241/.334/.397 that season and went on to hit 97 doubles, 22 triples and 45 homers across four years in his first stint with the Braves. He'd suit up again for Atlanta in '15 and '16, only to be dealt to the Mets each time. He holds the distinction of being the first player to appear with ever AL East team, doing so from 2011-14.
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No. 3 -- Jeff Francoeur, OF (23rd pick, 2002)
The local product, and poster boy of the Baby Braves movement, busted onto the scene in '05 with 14 homers in 257 at-bats and finished third in the Rookie of the Year balloting and would win a Gold Glove in '07 behind a 13.1 defensive WAR. He'd hit 73 homers over four seasons before becoming a nomad with stops with the Mets, Rangers, Royals, Giants, Padres and Phillies, a return to the Braves, and ultimately ending his career in '16 with the Marlins.
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No. 2 -- Jason Heyward, OF (14th pick, 2007)
The last first-round position player the Braves have picked that has made it to the majors, Heyward is also the best non-pitcher they've drafted since Chipper. An All-Star in his debut season of 2010 when he slashed .277/.393/.456 with 18 homers and 72 RBI in 142 games, he's gone on to win four Gold Gloves in eight seasons with the Braves, Cardinals and Cubs. Since Heyward's debut, only another former Atlanta player -- Andrelton Simmons -- has more defensive runs saved than Heyward's 119.
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No. 1 -- Adam Wainwright, RHP (29th pick, 2000)
Along with Drew, the Braves also landed Eli Marrero from the Cardinals for Marquis, reliever Ray King and Wainwright, who at the time was Atlanta's No. 1 pitching prospect. Drew was spectacular in '04 with 31 homers, 93 RBI and a staggering 56.9 offensive WAR. But he was gone a year later, while over the last 12 seasons Wainwright has three All-Star nods, two Gold Gloves and since '09, is 10th among all starters with a collective 32.1. WAR.