The Atlanta Braves selected pitcher Mike Minor, of Vanderbilt, with their first pick of the amateur draft tonight, grabbing the left-hander at No. 7 overall. He was the highest Braves' choice since Mike Kelly was taken at No. 2 in 1991.
"This guy is a winner," said scouting director Roy Clark. "We've been tracking him for a long time."
The Braves usually stay close to home, having used five of their past nine top picks to select Georgia high school stars.
That wasn't an option this year. Outfielder Donovan Tate, of Cartersville High School, went to San Diego at No. 3 and pitcher Zach Wheeler, of East Paulding High, was grabbed by San Francisco with the sixth pick just ahead of the Braves.
Still, Clark insisted the Braves were happy to land Minor, whose scouting report varied widely depending on the source. Baseball America ranked him as a second-round prospect, but Atlanta had him among its top three players on the board.
"I'm very pleased with the guy we got," Clark said. "I know the baseball world thought we were going to take Zach Wheeler."
Minor, originally drafted out of high school by Tampa Bay in the 13th round of the 2006 draft, did not have a dazzling season for the Commodores. He went 6-6 with a 3.90 ERA, giving up 109 hits in 110 2-3 innings.
But he had an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio (114-37) and, according to Clark, Minor's numbers improved significantly when the Vandy coaching staff allowed him to call his own game, rather than look to the dugout for what pitch to throw.