Clark doesn't want to tip Braves' hand

Clark doesn't want to tip Braves' hand

ATLANTA -- With the seventh overall selection in Tuesday's First-Year Player Draft, the Braves will be drafting sooner than they have since 1991, when they selected Arizona State outfielder Mike Kelly with the second pick.

Consequently Braves director of scouting Roy Clark spent the past few months showing even more attention to the players that he could grab with his first pick. While having the opportunity to grab one of the top available prospects is appealing, it also brings the responsibility of determining which of these players is most deserving of the enhanced bonus money the Braves will be offering their first selection this year.

"Because of the difference in the bonus demands and stuff like that, the guys that we're considering drafting seventh, some of them I've seen pitch, for example, six times," Clark said. "I've seen all of them multiple times, except for [Stephen] Strasburg. That tips our hand to other clubs and so you can see with the mock drafts and stuff, they all seem to have an idea.

"It's kind of tough, but if I've seen a guy six times, it's going to get out. That's the one thing. I don't like doing that. But you've got to get it right."

Like it's almost certain that the Nationals will grab Strasburg with the first overall pick, it's pretty safe to assume that Clark will once again be grabbing a pitcher with his first selection. But he may not have the opportunity to once again satisfy this preference by continuing the trend of selecting one of the top stars from the state of Georgia.

With East Paulding High School's Zack Wheeler drawing interest from the Orioles and Giants, who hold the two spots in front of the Braves, Clark would still certainly be happy with the opportunity to grab another familiar face in the form of Alex White, a highly touted right-hander from the University of North Carolina.

White certainly enhanced his stock during an NCAA Regional game on Saturday, when he recorded 12 strikeouts and allowed just one run in 8 1/3 innings against East Carolina. In the process, the 20-year-old provided indication that he was no longer affected by the cranky sore hamstring that had bothered the previous weekend.

"He's healthy, and of course, we know him extremely well," said Clark, who also played for North Carolina.

Clark contends that the Braves should feel fortunate to have one of the first selections during a Draft that many consider to possess just average talent after Strasburg. From what he's gathered, there could be some surprises after the first 10 selections are made.

"I'm telling you, after the first 10 picks, with the next 20, you can pull names out of the hat," Clark said. "That's why I'm saying you should see those record-breaking deals from 10-20, because I don't think there's anybody that is heads and shoulders above everybody else."

Because they signed Derek Lowe, the Braves lost their second-round selection. Their second selection will be the Draft's 87th overall.

"I'll take Derek Lowe as a second-round pick every year," 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.