The Atlanta Braves’ third session of the 2021 MLB Draft is largely an exercise in looking for players with upside who haven’t had a chance to play a lot, and for older players who might blossom under professional coaching.
Day three selections went a lot faster than day 2, with the Atlanta Braves grabbed a pair of pitchers before moving to their first position player. If you missed the first selection, you can read about Ryan Cusick here. You can catch up on selections from day two here.
I suggested that the Canadian connection might nudge the front office head north for a late-round selection in my pre-draft post. I chose the right country and position but the wrong pitcher.
The Atlanta Braves first pick on day three was a 6′-6, 205-pound, left-handed pitcher out of St. Benedict Catholic School in Ontario, ranked number 371 by Baseball America, Adam Shoemaker.
Shoemaker spent the Canadian winter in a COVID-19 lockdown, throwing his 87-89 mph fastball and waiting for a break. Baseball America reported the break happened in late April when Shoemaker escaped the wintery north and came to Long Island, where he worked out with the guy I thought the Braves would take (he didn’t make it that far), Calvin Ziegler.
At the combine, his fastball jumped to the low 90s, touching 95 regularly, thanks to improved mechanics. His secondary pitches need work; his slider just spins and begs to get hit most of the time, but his changeup is progressing nicely.
It’s not surprising that Shoemaker’s pitches need work; he’s been pitching for less than three years. It’s also not a surprise that the Atlanta Braves took the soon-to-turn 19-year-old pitcher. It’s hard to turn down a low-mileage, high-velocity arm attached to a 6′-6 frame.
If the Soroka experience is anything to go by, Shoemaker has the potential to turn into an eleventh-round steal. There are videos of Shoemaker online, but they reflect a pitcher 20 pounds lighter and an inch shorter. I didn’t think they told us anything, so I didn’t include them.