The MLB draft is hours away. The latest rumor concerning the Atlanta Braves — and it’s a dandy — comes from Jesse Burkhart, who has a connection to MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs. Here goes:
Why is this such a big deal? Because Ian Anderson is a right-handed high school pitcher from Shenendehowa, N.Y., who’s rated the 16th-best player available by Christopher Crawford of Baseball Prospectus. So why might the Braves make him the No. 3 pick overall? Two reasons:
1. He’d doubtless command less of the $6.5 million allotted the No. 3 overall pick in the pool, which would free up money for the Braves to use on later picks. (They have four more among the draft’s top 80.) This would be an under-slot/over-slot play. (For further reading on this and other draft issues, click here.)
2. Between innings, he stands on one leg and plays the flute.
(You didn’t think I could write “Ian Anderson” and not make a Tull joke, did you?)
Should the Braves take Anderson at No. 3 — and even Burkhart concedes they might not — it would be a disappointment for those who’d hoped the Braves, who have issues regarding the hitting of a baseball, would take a college bat. Even now, Kyle Lewis of Mercer is still ticketed to be the Braves’ pick by John Manuel of Baseball America and Keith Law of ESPN Insider in their respective mock drafts.
But the MLB draft is more akin to three-dimensional chess than, say, tic-tac-toe. The Braves want to maximize the $13.2 million allotted to them — that’s the third-highest total in this draft, behind the Reds and the Phillies — for bonuses to picks in the first 10 rounds. That can mean taking a player regarded slightly less highly sooner than expected. (Though no team in its right mind would take a guy it didn’t really like at No. 3 overall..)
The Braves have made no secret of preferring high school arms: They took two with their first two picks last year — Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka. (Tom Glavine and Steve Avery were high school arms. So were John Smoltz and Greg Maddux, who weren’t drafted by the Braves.)
General manager John Coppolella is on record as saying he’d like a college bat, but the Braves mightn’t be able to land one of the better ones with the 40th pick, which is where this Anderson thing could fall apart. They could decide that taking the 16th-best player overall would be penny-wise but pound-foolish.
We’ll know soon enough. In the meantime, let’s cue up the penultimate track of “Aqualung.” Ready? “In the shuffling madness/Of the locomotive breath/Runs the all-time loser/Headlong to his death.”
Grim image, I know. Good song, though. Great riff, too.