the Atlanta Braves completed on the second day of 2021 MLB Draft Monday by selecting nine other players, including seven university players. Atlanta started the day by selecting two-way player Spencer Schwellenbach of Nebraska in the second round with the 59th pick overall. Schwellenbach pitched and played from shortstop, but Braves scouting director Dana Brown has made it clear that the team sees him as a pitcher going forward and is delighted to have him.
“The plan was, of course, as always to take the best player available,” Brown said. “We were actually very excited because we had first round numbers on Schwellenbach and he was there in the second round so we were really excited to have him.”
“I like having college shortstops that end up on the mound because of their athleticism, their arm strength for position, their body control. So we really started talking about him last fall. We had it on our radar in the spring, but we finally saw it in the fall and early this year we really spotted it a ton.
“We think he could start. He’s been up to 99 and he’s got a really good change and a good breaking ball. We think he’s going to be a starter for us, ”added Brown. “It’s probably one of my favorite picks I could say about my career. I was so excited to have this guy.
Brown also said they made it clear to Schwellenbach that while they enjoy him as a shortstop, they believe his future is as a pitcher.
“We love you on the shortstop, but we love you better on the mound and we think you’re going to do great things for this organization.”
The Braves took out Southeastern Missouri state southpaw Dylan Dodd with their third pick, then caught Texan technology Shortstop Cal Conley in the fourth round.
“One of our scouts spent a lot of time seeing Texas Tech and had the chance to see him in several games and he got to see a little bit of power,” Brown said of Conley. “He’s an aggressive swinger, he can really run and he’s a switch hitter. We think this guy really has a chance to do some good things for us.
The Braves then tapped into the local market writing Georgia Tech shortstop Luke Waddell and third baseman Justyn-Henry Malloy with their next two picks. Waddell hit .309 / .402 / .474 with a team-high 71 hits in 56 games in 2021 and
“For Waddell you have a guy who could play shortstop, second base, a really good defenseman, a lot of contact, not shooting at bat,” Brown said. “I saw him a few years ago when he was playing for the United States team and he was an exciting player.”
Malloy reached 0.308 / 0.436 / 0.558 with a team record 43 RBI to assist Georgia Tech in the CCA Coastal Division title.
“We think Malloy could play in the infield and potentially play in the outfield as well,” said Brown. “He walks a lot and he definitely has power. We think we put him in a professional environment and he has a chance to take off. He’s a good bodied guy, he has a bit of strength and maybe he has a chance to gain power. He’s really catching his rhythm now because he was a kid from the northeast who, they don’t play as much in the northeast. So we think it may be an early detection thing where we’ve had it. “
All of those college picks paved the way for the Braves to save money where they could afford to dive into the high school ranks with their seventh and eighth round picks. Atlanta took right-hander AJ Smith-Shawver with his pick in the seventh round, then nabbed outfielder Tyler Collins in the eighth.
Smith-Shawver was a star of two sports engaged in Texas Tech. Brown said they were able to meet his number to convince him to stick with baseball.
“We were talking to his advisor and they had a specific number they were looking for and we were able to meet him. We love him to be a two-sport guy because we know he’s really athletic, fit, and physically strong. We think it has the advantage of being quite special. It was timed until 96 and we are excited about it.
Collins is a fast Texas outfielder who Brown said he jumped early and heavily spotted him.
“We jumped on him early on with some of our veteran scouts and these guys, we’re really excited about him and we feel really lucky,” Brown said of Collins. “It was priced a bit on the high side, but at the end of the day we saved some money on some of the college players we took earlier and we were able to do it.”
Atlanta selected Bryant University wide receiver Liam McGill in the ninth round, then used their final day two pick on 6’6 right-hander Dylan Spain who landed on the team’s radar after attending a camp test.
“It was one of those situations where our zone scout did a good job. He’s following this guy. We have had meetings in California. He took him out after the meetings. We had like a tryout camp where we had a practice session and this kid came in and he was throwing up to 97 on the gun. He threw a hard slider and kind of blew us away.
With their top 10 picks, the Braves selected five pitchers, three infielders, an outfield and a receiver. Eight of the top 10 picks were college players. Better yet, Brown said on Monday they were on track to sign all of their top 10 picks.
“We’ve talked to their counselors, we’ve talked to the kids, and we’re on schedule to finish them,” Brown said. “They’re going to come in, they’re going to have physical exams and we’re going to go. “
We’ll be back on Tuesday with more coverage from the last 10 rounds of the 2021 draft, so be sure to come back.