Braves Blog: No 1st-Round Draft Pick, No Problem
By Martin Gandy
February 24, 2010
The Braves 2009-2010 off-season began with the Braves and Braves fans believing that we would possibly secure three first round draft picks in the 2010 amateur draft. This was due to both Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez being type-A free agents and whichever team signed them would have to forfeit their first round draft pick (provided they were one of the teams that finished 2009 with one of the 15 best records -- the team with the 15 worst records have their first-round picks protected). Braves fans were salivating at what our scouting and player development team could do with three first round picks.
That pipe dream took a hit early in the free agent period when the Braves signed Billy Wagner, also a type-A free agent. The Braves were forced to give up their first round pick up to the Red Sox as compensation, and so we were left hoping that Soriano and Gonzalez would sign with one of those 15-best teams. Soriano, however, had other plans. With Wagner and setup man Takashi Saito already signed by Atlanta, Soriano accepted salary arbitration with the Braves and the team lost any hope of gaining a first round pick. The Braves ultimately traded Soriano to clear his salary and awaited the destination of Mike Gonzalez. The Orioles wrapped up Gonzo shortly thereafter, and since their first round pick was protected, the Braves found themselves going 0-for-3 on first round picks for the upcoming 2010 draft.
Not to worry, though, this is the Atlanta Braves, and there are other ways to find prospects. The Braves first bolstered their minor league ranks through the Javier Vazquez trade, acquiring the Yankees top pitching prospect, Arodys Vizcaino. He is equivalent to a first round pick with the added advantage of already having pro experience. Vizcaino instantly became one of the organization's top-5 prospects.
But the Braves were not done making up for the loss of three first round picks. The team announced yesterday that they had signed one of the top international free agents, Dominican shortstop Edward Salcedo. This 18-year old prodigy has drawn comparisons to the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez and even the Yankees Alex Rodriguez. He has been long coveted by major league teams, dating back to 2007 when the Indians thought they had him signed for over $2 million, only to see that contract voided by Major League Baseball due to an age discrepancy.
The Braves kept tabs on Salcedo and facilitated an MLB investigation to determine his true age, and now at a confirmed 18-years old, they have signed him to a $1.6 million deal. Salcedo is said to be the equivalent of a top-10 draft pick in the first round, a rare talent who is considered advanced enough to possibly start the year at advanced A-ball in Myrtle Beach.
It's times like these when it's great to be a Braves fan. We may have lost out on a potential bonanza of first round draft picks, but we acquired the talent anyway. Vizcaino and Salcedo are two prospects to really get excited about, and their acquisition has erased all the disappointment of losing out on a first round pick.