The Atlanta Braves signed their 17th-round draft pick outfielder Kade Kern leaving only one of the club’s 21 selections unsigned.
The Braves signed Kern for the $150K maximum bonus five days ago, but it just popped up on my feed. Kern is a 6’, 200-pound right-handed hitting outfielder out of Ohio State.
Hello. My Name is Kade
Kern began his career at Ohio State by going 5-6 in his first game, the first of 14 multi-hit games that season. He hit 10 doubles, a triple, and two homers, stole nine bases in 11 attempts, and ended the season fourth on the roster in slugging and leading the team in average, batting .325/.391/.438/.829.
His performance made Kern a second-team All-Big Ten selectee and a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper saluted those selections and named Kern a Freshman All-American.
He finished his career at Ohio with a bang, or rather six bangs, homering six times and adding 11 doubles and a triple, batting .283/.402/.470, striking out 28 times (19.1%), walking 30 (15%), and stealing 16 bases in 19 attempts.
What to Expect
The Atlanta Braves are getting a player who was a consistent performer for the Buckeyes in his three years there. He increased his stolen bases, homers, and walk rate each year and decreased his strikeouts. His 302/.382/.482/.863 final line for Ohio included 36 doubles, three triples, 17 homers in 592 PA, and 36 stolen bases in 43 attempts.
Baseball America’s scouting report (subscription required) touts Kern’s record of consistent improvement and an 86% in-zone contact rate.
"...Kern does not have much of a load and uses a small toe tap …he lets his natural strength and quick hands do the work…direct path to the baseball and has power to all fields, with plus power …the pull side. Kern’s running ability allows him to succeed in center field, but given the lack of arm strength, he might fit better in left field in pro ball. "
Kern played summer league ball in the Cape Cod League in 2021 and 2022. The numbers there weren’t as impressive, but the Braves weren’t scared off because the sample size (103 PA in 2021 and 49 PA in 2022) was small, and reports on his performance spoke of two things the Braves value, work ethic, and ability to make in-game adjustments.
Kern has a reputation for quality defense, and his speed allows him to get to balls many defenders wouldn’t reach.
That’s a Wrap
The Atlanta Braves selection still to sign is their 12th round pick, Brady Day, out of Kansas State.
If Kern continues to improve as he did at Ohio, the Atlanta Braves may have stolen a Brian Giles-type player. The biggest marker of home runs to come is doubles in the minors. Kern hit a bunch for Ohio; I hope he does it for the Braves.