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Braves' top pick already inked

Braves have six of top 14 picks signed already

ATLANTA -- Even before Braves director of scouting Roy Clark and his staff completed their work during this year's First-Year Player Draft, they had already signed six of the first 14 picks, including top selection Cody Johnson.

Johnson, a 17-year-old power-hitting outfielder from Panama City, Fla., was taken with the 24th pick on Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon, he had already agreed to a signing bonus believed to be approximately $1.2 million. His agent, B.B. Abbott, represents a number of Braves, including Chipper Jones and Brian McCann.

"It's great to get this done and out of the way," Johnson said. "Nobody ever told me I was going to be drafted by the Braves. Everything the past two days has just been great."

During his just-completed senior season at A. Crawford Mosley High School, Johnson hit .525 with 15 homers, six doubles and 43 RBIs. He has been a Braves fan throughout his life and has always considered Jones to be his favorite player.

Another of Abbott's clients, Dustin Evans, a right-handed pitcher from Georgia Southern University, was among Wednesday's signees. Others who have already signed include right-handed pitchers Steven Figueroa and Kristopher Medlen, third baseman Adam Coe and shortstop Chase Fontaine.

Coe's teammate at Russell County High School, right-handed pitcher Cory Rasmus, who was the club's second selection, may sign within the next few days. The duo helped the rural Alabama school win a mythical national championship last year.

"We've got them picked," Clark said. "Now comes the hard part, getting them signed."

When this year's draft concluded on Wednesday, Clark was wearing that annual smile, giving indication that he was once again excited about the prospects he and his staff had selected over the past two days.

During the two-day event, the Braves selected 53 players, but only a handful of them will end up playing for the organization. Some will choose not to sign, while many others are viewed as draft-and-follow prospects, meaning they will continue to be monitored and possibly signed before next year's draft.

Clark feels good about the possibility of signing each of the club's first 16 selections. Those selected after the 14th round will likely be draft-and-follows. This is one reason that 22 of the club's final 38 selections came from junior colleges.

One familiar trend was the fact that the Braves selected 34 pitchers. They are very high on many of them, including Rasmus and left-hander Chad Rodgers, a fourth-round selection who went undefeated during his prep career at Walsh Jesuit High School, located in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.

"We didn't take anybody that I or any of our scouts didn't feel strongly about after watching them play," Clark said.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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