Atlanta Braves 2010 Draft Review

Bill Shanks

As we prepare for the June 10 draft, one that will be unlike any other, it’s worth looking back on the Braves drafts from the 2010s.

A decade ago, Tony DeMacio had taken over as the scouting director of the Braves, replacing the very successful Roy Clark. DeMacio had also been in the same position with the Orioles when Frank Wren, Atlanta’s GM in 2010, was leading the Baltimore club.

DeMacio’s resume was impressive, as he was the scout who signed two Hall of Farmers for the Braves - Tom Glavine in 1984 and Chipper Jones in 1990.

The Braves lost their first-round pick to Boston for signing free agent Billy Wagner. Considering how well Wagner did in his final season of his MLB career in Atlanta, the Braves never regretted losing that pick.

However, there was a player picked just a few spots after Boston messed up that 20th overall pick (they selected Kolbrin Vitek – who?). The Marlins took Christian Yelich with the 23 pick in the 2010 first round.

But the Braves did have a first round pick that year in the compensation round, for the loss of free agent reliever Mike Gonzalez. They took Matt Lipka, a shortstop from McKinney High School in McKinney, Texas.

Lipka was never a serious prospect. He did well in the Gulf Coast League the summer he was drafted, hitting .302 with 20 stolen bases in 48 games. Lipka hit .247 in his first full season in Rome in 2011, and in an injury-plagued season in 2012 he hit .271 in High-A-Lynchburg.

The Braves had moved Lipka from shortstop and second base to the outfield in 2012.

When Lipka returned to the Carolina League in 2013, he hit .251 with 37 stolen bases in 131 games. Then the wheels came off, as Lipka again had an injury-plagued season in 2014. He hit just .189 in 28 games and then in 2015 he hit just .246 in a full season in Double-A Mississippi.

The Braves gave Lipka one more season to show them something, but he hit just .243 between Mississippi and Gwinnett in 2016.

Lipka’s offensive struggles continued after he left the Braves. He hit .241 between three minor league teams in the Rangers organization in 2017. Then he hit .240 with San Francisco’s Double-A team in 2018, and then he hit .262 in the Yankees organization last season.

Lipka was in minor league camp with the Dodgers for the 2020 season.

So, who could the Braves have taken instead of Lipka with that 35 overall pick? Well, three picks later the Blue Jays (Alex Anthopoulos was the general manager at the time) took Noah Syndergaard. Nine picks later the Tigers took Nicholas Castellanos.

The Braves second-round pick was Todd Cunningham, an outfielder from Jacksonville State University. Cunningham wound up with 94 at bats in Atlanta and hit .277 with 4 RBI.

They did make up for their two lackluster picks with their third pick, the 70 overall. Atlanta selected Andrelton Simmons from Western Oklahoma State College. Simmons spent four years with the Braves before being traded to the Angels before the 2016 season for Sean Newcomb, Chris Ellis and Erick Aybar.

In the third round, Atlanta took Joe Leonard, a college third baseman who couldn’t really hit. Leonard had a shaky offensive record at Pittsburgh, and then when he got into pro ball he hit only .251 in the Braves minor league system.

Three picks later, the Marlins took catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Fifth-round pick Phil Gosselin got to the big leagues and has been a 25th man on many MLB rosters. Joey Terdoslavich was the sixth-round pick, but he failed to live up to expectations.

Eleventh-round selection Chasen Shreve pitched in 15 games in Atlanta before moving on to the Yankees. He’s also spent time with the Cardinals and has now pitched 218 games as a reliever in the big leagues.

Brandon Drury was Atlanta’s 13 round pick. He was included in the Justin Upton trade with Arizona. Drury has hit .251 with 47 home runs in 1457 MLB at bats between the D’Backs, Yankees and Blue Jays.

The Braves did hit paydirt on their 23 round pick – Evan Gattis out of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa. Gattis played for the Braves for two seasons before being traded to Houston for Mike Foltynewicz. Gattis played six years in the big leagues and hit 139 home runs and had 605 hits, which was 139 home runs and 605 hits more than anyone thought he’d ever have in the Major Leagues.

Since Simmons was traded for Newcomb, and Gattis was traded for Foltynewicz, you could spin this and say in a weird way the Braves were still receiving some benefit from the draft in 2010.

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