Stockpile of left-handers grows as Braves select Louisville’s Drew Harrington

In picking Ian Anderson at No. 3 overall, bypassing high-profile arms with better pure "stuff" in names like Jason Groome, Riley Pint and A.J. Puk, Braves scouting director Brian Bridges underscored the importance of command and feel when going through any given pitcher’s evaluation process. The same rationale can be applied to Drew Harrington, the franchise’s 80th overall pick in the 2016 draft.

The Louisville left-hander became the ACC Pitcher of the Year thanks in large part to his feel on the mound, rocketing to the front of an ultra-talented Cardinals rotation with a 2.08 ERA in 103 2/3 innings pitched as a junior. He struck out less than a batter per inning, but he kept his walks down and allowed just 12 extra-base hits for the season.

At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, he doesn’t quite fit the projectable frame of the Braves’ earlier picks out of the high-school ranks, but his quality three-pitch arsenal and advanced feel, not to mention being 21 years old, leaves him much closer to MLB-ready, likely as a bullpen arm.

MLB Pipeline listed Harrington as its 148th-best prospect.

Harrington becomes the third left-handed pitcher, and fourth arm overall, Bridges and Atlanta’s scouting department have taken in their first five picks — a surprising development for a franchise in need of impact bats. It’s a strategy built around value over need. Harrington simply continues a trend the Braves refuse to shy away from.

In joining Joey Wentz, who’s drawn multiple Cole Hamels comparisons, and Gatorade National Player of the Year Kyle Muller, Harrington adds to perhaps the greatest collection of left-handed pitching depth in the minors.

Harrington is the fifth Louisville player taken in the first 80 picks of the draft, including a school-record three first-round picks in outfielder Corey Ray, pitcher Zack Burdi and catcher Will Smith.