Braves among game's best at finding top talent
Club's run of excellence has been fueled by more than two decades of astute picks
ATLANTA -- Dating back to the start of their unprecedented streak of 14 consecutive division titles in 1991, the Braves have been lauded for their ability to consistently find and develop prospects who have made their mark at the Major League level. An abundance of their homegrown talent has been acquired via the First-Year Player Draft.
Some of their most successful draftees, such as Chipper Jones, Tom Glavine and Craig Kimbrel, were taken within the first few rounds. But the Braves have also found value via later-round selections, such as Kevin Millwood and Kris Medlen. Below is a list of the best selection the Braves have had in each of the first 15 rounds since the Draft began in 1965.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Round 1: Chipper Jones, 1990
Most mentions of Jones being selected with the first-overall pick in 1990 include the reminder that a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher named Todd Van Poppel was widely considered the best available prospect that year. While Van Poppel posted a 5.58 ERA over 359 Major League appearances (98 starts), Chipper became one of the best switch-hitters in baseball history, and he's likely first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Serving as Atlanta's general manager at the time, Bobby Cox made the decision to select Jones instead of Van Poppel. He then reaped the rewards as his Hall of Fame managerial career was enriched by the presence of Jones, an eight-time All-Star, who won both a National League MVP Award and a batting title while spending the entirety of his 19-season big league career with the Braves. HONORABLE MENTION: Dale Murphy (1974)
Round 2: Tom Glavine, 1984
After taking Drew Denson in the first round, the Braves fittingly used the 47th-overall selection to select Glavine. While wearing No. 47 over 17 seasons in Atlanta, the Hall of Fame left-hander recorded 244 of his 305 victories with the Braves. He captured two NL Cy Young Awards and gained eight of his 10 All-Star selections with the Atlanta.
Glavine proved to be the most successful of the homegrown prospects who arrived in Atlanta during the late 1980s, and he then helped turn the struggling franchise into a model of success in the '90s. He notched the first of three consecutive 20-win seasons in '91, the year the Braves went from worst-to-first and nearly won the World Series. HONORABLE MENTION: Brian McCann (2002), Freddie Freeman ('07)and Andrelton Simmons ('10)
Round 3: Craig Kimbrel, 2008
After selecting Kimbrel in the 33rd round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, the Braves took their current closer 30 rounds earlier the following year. Having completed just three full seasons at the Major League level, the hard-throwing right-hander has already established himself as one of the game's premier closers. He has struck out more than 40 percent of the batters he has faced and has converted nearly 90 percent of his save opportunities. HONORABLE MENTION: Ralph Garr (1967) and Steve Bedrosian ('78)
Round 4: David Justice, 1985
While Glavine, John Smoltz and Steve Avery were taking care of the franchise's reconstruction from a pitching perspective, Justice served as the first offensive star to emerge from the Braves' Minor League system during the 1990s. He won the '90 NL Rookie of the Year Award and gained a pair of All-Star selections before hitting one of the most celebrated home runs in Braves history during Game 6 of the 1995 World Series. HONORABLE MENTION: Before becoming "The Big Unit," Randy Johnson opted not to sign with the Braves in 1982. He attended USC and was drafted by the Expos in the second round of the '85 Draft.
Round 5: Ryan Klesko, 1985
Klesko batted .281 with an .886 OPS while playing the first eight seasons of his big league career with the Braves. He homered three times during the 1995 World Series and produced a .776 OPS in the 56 postseason games he experienced while playing for Atlanta. HONORABLE MENTION: Bruce Benedict (1976)
Round 6: Wayne Garrett, 1965
After beginning his professional career with the Braves, Garrett was selected by the Mets in the 1968 Rule 5 Draft. He spent most of his 10-year big league career serving as a backup infielder for the Mets and Expos.
Given that Joey Terdoslavich (2010) is the only other player that merits honorable mention, it is obvious the sixth round has proven to be the least fruitful for the Braves.
Round 7: Rick Camp, 1974
Camp will always be remembered as the pitcher who hit a game-tying 18th-inning home run, surrendered five runs the next half inning and then struck out to end the famous July 4, 1985, game against the Mets. But he also notched 11 wins for the '82 club that captured the second division title in Atlanta history. HONORABLE MENTION: Mark DeRosa (1996)
Round 8: Jason Schmidt, 1991
Before notching a majority of his 130 career wins with the Giants, Schmidt had the pleasure of being the heralded prospect who had a chance to surround himself with Glavine, Smoltz and Greg Maddux for a couple years. He was traded to the Pirates during the latter part of the 1996 season in exchange for Denny Neagle, who won a career-high 20 games for Atlanta in '97. HONORABLE MENTION: Al Martin ('85) and Mark Wohlers ('89)
Round 9: Paul Runge, 1979
Runge's Major League career consisted of serving as a backup infielder for the Braves over eight seasons (1981-88). He then spent most of the next two decades serving as an instructor and manager in Atlanta's Minor League system from 1993-2010. HONORABLE MENTION: After not signing with the Braves in 1983, Jay Buhner was selected by the Pirates in the second round of the '84 January secondary phase of the amateur draft.
Round 10: Kris Medlen, 2006
While many organizations shied away from his size, the Braves benefited from their willingness to take a chance on the athletic prospect. From the time he moved into Atlanta's rotation on a full-time basis on July 31, 2012, through the end of last year, Medlen posted the game's second-best ERA. But his future is in doubt as he is currently recovering from a second Tommy John surgery. HONORABLE MENTION: Tony Graffanino (1990)
Round 11: Kevin Millwood, 1993
Millwood notched 17 wins when he joined Atlanta's rotation in 1998, and a career-best 18 as he finished third in the NL Cy Young Award balloting the following season. After matching that 18-win total in 2002, he was traded to the Phillies in a cost-cutting move. HONORABLE MENTION: Before beginning his 19-year Major League career as a highly-respected outfielder, Steve Finley opted not to sign with the Braves after they picked him in 1986
Round 12: Scott Downs, 1994
Downs opted not to sign with the Braves and ended up beginning his pro career after the Cubs took him in the third round in 1997. But the veteran left-handed reliever, who is currently with the White Sox, spent the final two months of last season in Atlanta's bullpen. HONORABLE MENTION: Chris Brock ('92)
Round 13: Mike Stanton, 1987
Stanton spent the first seven of his 19 Major League seasons in Atlanta's bullpen. He notched a career-high 27 saves for the 1993 Braves. HONORABLE MENTION: None
Round 14: Garrett Jones, 1999
Jones, who currently serves as the Marlins' first baseman, never advanced beyond the rookie league level before being released by the Braves after the 2001 season. He has averaged 20 homers per season since finally becoming a mainstay at the Major League level in '09. HONORABLE MENTION: David Nied (1987)
Round 15: Tony Tarasco, 1988
Tarasco spent the 1993 and '94 seasons as a backup outfielder in Atlanta. But he's best remembered as being part of the package the Braves provided the Expos to bring Marquis Grissom to Atlanta before the start of the '95 season. HONORABLE MENTION: Before being selected by the Mariners with the third-overall selection in 1995, Jose Cruz Jr. opted not to sign when the Braves drafted him out of high school in '92.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.