The Braves continued their grab for right-handed pitching prospects in the seventh round, selecting a high-school arm in Ian Stiffler with the 223rd overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
Yet another power right-handed pitcher, Stiffler boasts three pitches he can throw with above-average command: a fastball, curveball and changeup.
"Gene Kerns, our area scout who signed [Brandon] Beachy, really likes this kid, and when Gene likes a guy, you take him," Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio said.
Stiffler, the first Pennsylvania high schooler taken in the 2013 Draft, led his high school to the district championship this spring after signing with Virginia Commonwealth in November. His older brother, Shawn, is the head baseball coach at VCU.
Salazar pick sets tone for Braves on Day 2
The Braves started Day 2 of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft with the selection of right-handed pitcher Carlos Salazar in the third round and held to a few common themes on Friday: power pitchers, depth up the middle of the diamond, and players likely to sign professional contracts.
Salazar, a California high school product, set the tone for Friday's round of selections, as Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio did not hesitate to spend four of the team's first 10 picks on right-handed pitchers with the potential to make noise in the organization.
"You're always going to need pitching," DeMacio said. "We're looking for power arms, that's what we're looking for when we take pitching. I think when you draft through the middle, that's good. You gotta be strong through the middle."
Though committed to Fresno State in his own backyard, Salazar gained plenty of big league Draft interest following an early showing at the Major League Scouting Bureau's SoCal Showcase.
The physical right-hander out of Kerman High School has a ton of arm strength, touching 97 mph with his fastball fairly consistently. His sharp breaking ball has the potential to become a plus pitch, and he even shows some feel for a deceptive changeup.
"Good high school arm, power arm," DeMacio said. "Mid-90s or a little better sometimes, with a really good breaking ball. We were very happy to get him."
While Salazar has struggled with control, his command has been improved and he's generally around the strike zone.
A longtime Bulldogs fan, there's a chance he'll never set foot on the Fresno State campus, with an opportunity to instead start his pro career following his selection with the 102nd overall pick in the Draft.
"The kids we took wanted to go out and sign, and that's important," DeMacio said. "So that worked out good both ways for us."
Due to the rules governing what teams can spend, the Braves took high school prospects they felt confident they would be able to sign.
"We took I think five high school guys today, which is good," DeMacio said. "The new Draft rules enable you to move some money around where you can actually take more high school guys, so that's worked out."
Day 3 of the Draft continues with Rounds 11-40 streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. ET.
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. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Braves keep catchers coming with Murphy in Round 4
The Braves took their second catcher in four picks on Friday afternoon, selecting high school backstop Tanner Murphy with the 133rd overall pick in the fourth round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Murphy, from Malden High School in Malden, Mo., signed to play for Southern Illinois after putting up an average over .500, 32 homers and 68 RBIs in his first three years of high school.
This spring, he hit .600 with 10 home runs and 39 RBIs on his way to earning conference player of the year honors.
Murphy was a two-way player throughout high school, compiling a 7-3 record as a starting pitcher with 84 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings pitched as a senior. But with his frame and productive bat, he profiles as a catcher at the next level.
"Our guys really like Murphy as a catcher," Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio said. "Catchers are hard to find."
Atlanta selected Miami-Dade Community College catcher Victor Caratini with its second-round selection on Thursday night.
Braves take Texas A&M infielder Reynolds fifth
After drafting a high school battery with their first two picks on Friday, the Braves stayed up the middle with their fifth-round selection, taking Texas A&M shortstop Mikey Reynolds with the 163rd overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Reynolds, the first college senior selected by the Braves this year, is not big, physically, but he has a tenacity and aggressiveness that has helped him reach this level. Listed at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, Reynolds earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference recognition after hitting .342 with 15 doubles, 25 RBIs and a team-high 19 steals.
"High-energy, leadership-type guy, can play all the infield positions," Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio said. "He's very similar in makeup to [Nick] Ahmed, who we had. We really liked him last year, but the injuries sort of held us back, and I think he wanted to go back and play that last year because of the injury."
Reynolds is a tough out at the plate with his short, quick stroke, and is a spray hitter with little power, finishing his two years in College Station with just two home runs. He's quick out of the box, a basestealing threat and has soft hands on the infield.
While Reynolds could grow into being an everyday player, the more likely scenario is that he'll be a utility player as a professional.
Braves take local arm Janas in Round 6
The Braves went local for yet another right-handed pitcher, selecting Kennesaw State junior Steve Janas in the sixth round with the 193rd overall selection in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Janas, a product of Lassiter High School in Marietta, Ga., underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2012 as a sophomore, returning in just 10 months to put together a spectacular junior season. He posted a 1.14 ERA in 2013, breaking the Atlantic Sun record, and carried a perfect 9-0 record into the championship game of the conference tournament, where the Owls fell to East Tennessee State.
Janas pounds the strike zone with his upper-80s fastball and also throws a changeup and slider, which has the potential to be a Major League-average pitch. His above-average command allows him to compete without premium velocity, but his 6-foot-6 frame suggests he might add more velocity as he further recovers from surgery.
"Another power arm, local kid from Kennesaw," Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio said. "We had him here the other day, too. We like the way his arm works. He's got a nice, loose, easy delivery, and we think he's going to throw a lot harder."
GM Wren's son is Braves' eighth-round pick
The Braves kept their eighth-round pick in the family on Friday, selecting outfielder Kyle Wren, the son of Braves general manager Frank Wren, with the 253rd overall pick of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Wren was a Draft-eligible sophomore a year ago, but decided to head back to Georgia Tech rather than sign with the Reds, who took him in the 30th round. The speedy outfielder had a tremendous junior season for the Yellow Jackets, hitting .360 and stealing a team-high 28 bases as Tech took Vanderbilt to the brink of elimination before bowing out in the Nashville Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
For Frank Wren, the selection of his son was always a possibility, but he wanted to take himself out of the room for any discussion or analysis, returning only for the final decision.
"It's a little uncomfortable in some terms, but at the end of the day, when I look at what's best for the organization, and then from a dad's perspective, what's best for Kyle, knowing the quality of the instruction we have, whether it's [Minor League baserunning and outfield coordinator] Doug Dascenzo or [Minor League hitting coordinator] Don Long," Wren said. "I'm thrilled that he's going to be working with those coaches because I think that will give him a better chance to continue to develop. And selfishly, we're getting a player with talent."
Wren is mostly a line-drive hitter who goes with the pitch when he wants to. His best tool is his speed, and it works on both sides of the ball, allowing him to play a strong outfield as well -- the Braves selected him as a center fielder.
Kyle Wren is a flyer; he can run," Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio said. "Middle-of-the-diamond player, left-handed hitter, leadoff-type guy. We're happy to get him, too. He's a table-setter. He had a great year. I think he was a Freshman All-American, and he comes from a high-profile program, so he's playing against the best competition in the country."
The Braves continued a trend of keeping their GM's bloodlines in-house in the eighth round. In 2002, Atlanta selected Jonathan Schuerholz, the son of then-GM John Schuerholz, in the same Draft position.
"I asked him the question," Wren said. "I said, 'How would you feel about us drafting you?' He said, 'I would love that.' It's his favorite team -- it better be his favorite team. But I asked him that question because I didn't want to put him in a spot where he would be overly uncomfortable, and he wasn't at all."
Braves stick with bloodlines in selecting Manwaring
For the third straight pick, the Braves took a prospect with baseball bloodlines Friday, selecting third baseman Dylan Manwaring in the ninth round, the 283rd overall selection of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Manwaring, a Wake Forest commitment since he was a sophomore in high school, is the son of former Major League catcher Kirt Manwaring, who played 13 seasons with the Giants, Astros and Rockies between 1987-99.
"He can hit," Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio said "He's got power."
Braves cap off Day 2 with selection of Hagenmiller
The Braves finished off the second day of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft with the 10th-round selection of Ian Hagenmiller, a high school third baseman from West Palm Beach, Fla., with the 313th overall pick.
Hagenmiller, a Palm Beach State signee, follows in the mold of power-hitting third basemen the Braves were pursuing in their ninth-round selection on Manwaring.
"They're young power bats that we're going to try to develop," Braves scouting director Tony DeMacio said.
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.