ATLANTA (AP) High school left-hander Kolby Allard might be seen as a risky first-round draft pick for the Atlanta Braves after missing most of his senior season with a back injury.
The Braves believe Allard's injury was good luck for them.
Braves director of scouting Brian Bridges said Allard, from San Clemente (California) High School, had the draft's ''best amateur curveball.'' If not for the stress reaction in his back that limited Allard to three appearances as a senior, Bridges said Allard wouldn't have been available at No. 14 overall in Monday night's draft.
''It was probably fortunate he had a little hiccup this year, for us, to get to this spot in the draft,'' Bridges said.
Allard (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) said the injury was ''just a stupid, freak, little thing.'' He has been throwing for five weeks.
''I'm not worried about my back,'' Allard said. ''It's not a career thing. ... I'm pumped to get started.''
Allard was 15-3 with a 1.74 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 144 2-3 innings during his high school career.
Before the injury, Bridges said it was a ''pipe dream'' for the Braves to draft Allard. He was ranked among the nation's top high school pitchers by Baseball America before the season.
With the 28th pick, a compensation selection the team received when Ervin Santana signed with Minnesota, Atlanta took another high school pitcher, right-hander Mike Soroka from Calgary, Canada.
The Braves, who are working to rebuild their farm system, had five of the top 75 picks on the first day of the draft.