Braves land switch-hitting local OF Drew Waters with 2nd-round pick

ATLANTA — Back in January, when the Braves’ front office and scouting department first started discussing draft options for the fifth overall selection that eventually became Vanderbilt ace Kyle Wright, local outfielder Drew Waters was in the conversation. After watching the 6-foot-2 athlete rise up through the East Cobb ranks and eventually play for a Fred McGriff-managed Braves scout team down in Jupiter, Fla., scouting director Brian Bridges and his staff could rattle off Waters’ resume blindfolded.

“We know this kid inside and out,” Bridges said, “and we know what he’s all about and what he brings to the table.”

Five months later, the organization landed Waters, the 2017 Gatorade State Player of the Year in Georgia, 36 spots lower than once considered — another potential steal for a front office that received rave reviews following its 2015 and 2016 draft hauls.

A switch-hitter the Braves project to become a future corner outfielder, Waters led Etowah High School (Woodstock, Ga.) to the 7-A state championship with video game numbers, hitting .510 with 32 extra-base hits. The All-American Georgia commit received solid grades across his tool report card.

“We really like the switch-hit, speed-power combo once he grows into his power. (Graded) 60 to 65 arm, can really play defense. Pretty good athlete,” said Bridges, who mentioned the 18-year-old was clocked at 6.4 seconds in the 60-yard dash. Waters’ father played football at Georgia Tech. “We feel really good about this selection.”

Bridges also made it clear that Waters had at least one substantial voice in his corner throughout the process: McGriff.

Waters steps into a farm system boasting impressive outfield talent, starting with center fielder Ronald Acuna, who could push his way near the upper echelon of prospect lists by the end of the season. Along with Cristian Pache and Dustin Peterson, the new edition adds much-needed position depth and upside.

Waters ranked No. 21 overall on Baseball America’s pre-draft board.

“He really believes in his ability. Really believes in who he is,” Bridges said. “He wants to be at the plate in big situations. He has a lot of confidence in himself. He has a lot of confidence in his ability. Just hearing the room in January when we started discussing the player, it was one of those things like, you know, everybody liked him.”

Waters is the first Georgia high-schooler the Braves have drafted in the first two rounds since selecting Lucas Sims in 2012.

The projected slot bonus for the No. 41 pick is $1.7 million. The Braves entered the draft with the ninth-highest bonus pool at $9,881,200.