Lipka gives the Braves the speed they need
Surprised that Bryce Bentz fell into their laps, I figured the Braves would take him with the 35th overall selection in this year’s Draft. But like many other clubs, they found an option more appealing than the East Tennessee State outfielder.
With Bentz, the Braves would have landed a proven college hitter who possesses some of the power potential they need to integrate into their Minor League system. With Matt Lipka, they gained an athletic shortstop who possesses speed, an asset that an 18-year-old kid isn’t going to suddenly develop.
Young prospects can mature into a power hitter and correct the mechanics of their swing. But they aren’t going to suddenly have the kind of top-notch speed that Lipka already possesses.
A two-time All-State wide receiver in Texas’ Class 4-A system, Lipka will likely eventually become a center fielder. Clocked at 6.4 seconds in the 60-yard dash, he will be groomed to be the leadoff hitter that the Braves haven’t been able to develop since some 19 or 21-year-old kid named Rafael Furcal arrived in Atlanta in 2000.
When I asked Lipka about his offensive stats tonight, he asked me if I wanted his football or baseball numbers. Then when he told me he hit eight triples this year, he made sure to let me know that he attempted to alter his offensive approach this year to help highlight his speed.
For more about Lipka, click here to read some thoughts from him and Braves director of scouting Tony DeMacio.
When the Draft starts up again tomorrow at noon on MLB.com, the Braves will have the third pick (53rd overall). They will have another second-round pick (70th overall) and a third-round pick to give them four of the Draft’s first 101 selections.
Look for the Braves to continue attempting to stockpile some offensive players with these selections. But you can bet they’ll also attempt to take advantage of a Draft loaded with right-handed pitchers.
West Virginia’s Jedd Gyorko is still available and I’m not mentioning his name yet again simply because he’s a fellow native of the Mountain State. Gyorko is a proven hitter who I’ve heard compared to Boston’s Kevin Youkilis.
Bentz ended up going to the Red Sox with the 36th overall selection.
During Tuesday’s selections, you’re almost guaranteed to see the selections of some players who will be playing in Atlanta within the next few years. Brian McCann was the third player (behind Jeff Francoeur and Dan Meyer) selected by the Braves in the 2002 Draft. And of course Tommy Hanson went in the 22nd round of the 2005 Draft, when teams could select prospects and evaluate them over the course of the next year before signing them.
Postgame quotes: After Tuesday night’s 7-4 loss to the D-backs, Bobby Cox said Derek Lowe hadn’t pitched as bad as his line (4 IP, 8H, 7 ER) might indicate. But at the end of the day, Lowe couldn’t escape the fact that he needed 96 pitches to complete those four innings.
The Braves fell behind 7-1 through four innings and then battled back to cut the deficit to just three runs. They utilized three ninth-inning walks to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. But Chad Qualls found his command just in time to get Yunel Escobar to ground into a game-ending double play.
(Derek Lowe on his outing)
“I’ve pitched a lot worse and given up seven runs. It started off in the first inning where they hit one ball in the air and ended up scoring two runs. It was just part of it. Who knows what happened in the fourth (inning)…It wasn’t good.”
(Cox on Lowe’s outing)
“He’s a sinkerballer that had one of those nights where everything was hit just right, not hard, but we couldn’t make plays for him…He wasn’t hit hard. A hundred pitches in four innings tells you something. You’ve got to get more strikes.”
(Eric Hinske on the offense)
“We kind of had (Dan) Haren where we wanted. We had his pitch
count up pretty good. We just couldn’t keep any runs off the board.
Sometimes it goes that way. It was a good team effort to get his
pitch count up and try to get to their bullpen. But a six-run deficit is
kind of hard to come back from sometimes. We’ll put it behind us and come
back tomorrow. It’s just one loss in a four-game set.”
The Braves will send Kris Medlen to the mound on Tuesday night to oppose Edwin Jackson. If they can at least win two of these final three games in Arizona, they’ll head to Minnesota needing to win two of three to secure a winning road trip.
But if they return to Atlanta having won just five of 11 games on this long road trip, I don’t think there’s would be any reason to consider this trip to have been a disaster.
Of course they could win each of these final three games in Arizona and feel even better about the current two-game lead they still hold over the Phillies.
NOTES: It’s interesting that the Braves haven’t promoted Chris Resop and sent Jesse Chavez to the Minors. Obviously Resop’s trade value is greater as a starter and you have to wonder if the club is concerned about bringing him to the Majors and potentially seeing that value drop…McCann was removed from Monday night’s game to rest his ailing quad. He should be back in the lineup on Tuesday night…Chipper Jones also expects to return for the second game of this four-game set.