ATLANTA - For the second straight year, the Atlanta Braves and the University of Georgia are competing for a pitcher.
Georgia signee Brett DeVall, a left-handed pitcher from Niceville (Fla.) High School, was the Braves' first draft pick Thursday.
One year ago, the Braves drafted Georgia relief pitcher Joshua Fields in the second round. Fields surprised experts by becoming the highest draft pick to remain in college. Fields returned to Georgia for his senior season and was a first-round pick by the Seattle Mariners on Thursday.
Might the Braves again have difficulty luring a pitcher from the Bulldogs?
'I don't think so,' said Braves director of scouting Roy Clark before laughing and adding 'But after (Fields) we take nothing for granted.'
The Braves lost their first-round pick to the New York Mets as compensation for signing Tom Glavine from the Mets as a free agent.
The Braves drafted DeVall 40th overall as a compensatory round pick for Kansas City signing reliever Ron Mahay.
Clark said Braves scouts have watched DeVall compete in the East Cobb summer program near Atlanta for years. Clark said DeVall was 'right there at the top' of the team's list of players they hoped would be available.
'We were sweating it out,' Clark said.
'He's from Florida but he's been up here against the best competition. We've seen him over and over and over again and our scouts really like him a lot. He's got a power arm, a very good changeup and a good breaking ball. Most publications said he was probably the most advanced or polished high school pitcher in the draft.
'We project him to be a middle of the rotation starter.'
DeVall (6-3, 215) has a fastball clocked in the low 90s. Clark described DeVall's changeup as 'exceptional' and his breaking ball as 'at least average.'
'We project him to be a middle of the rotation starter,' Clark said.