06/04/2002 3:25 pm ET
Braves tab Francoeur first in draft
Slugging OF also Georgia prep football star
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Braves' round-by-round picks
ATLANTA -- For the record, the Braves selected Jeff Francoeur with their first pick in the 2002 MLB First-Year Player Draft. But in reality,
Francoeur might have actually selected the Braves.
Francoeur, a two-sport standout athlete from Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga., was taken by the Braves with the 23rd pick in the draft
Tuesday afternoon. It was a selection that brought great joy to the Francoeur family, but one that came with minimal surprise.
"I made it very clear to some teams that called that I wanted to play for the Braves," Francoeur said. "We let the other teams know that it
would take a significant amount of money to sign me if they chose me."
Add that to the fact that Francoeur has already signed a letter of intent to play football at Clemson University, and many teams backed
away from selecting a player who, based on talent, might have been selected earlier.
"Abilitiy-wise, we were somewhat surprised he was still available," Braves Director of Scouting Roy Clark said. "But we are very delighted
to have had the opportunity to select him."
Francoeur said he has had multiple conversations with the Braves this week and feels confident that they can come to terms pretty
quickly. When told last year's 23rd selection received a $1.2 million signing bonus, Francoeur seemed confident he wouldn't settle for
that and expected the Braves to offer more.
Same type body as young Dale Murphy. Quiet hitting mechanics, often lacks trigger but takes a rip. Better than average athlete with above-average baseball tools. Attacks at plate. Serious bat speed. Covers plate, like to turn and can pull outer half, but can also drive opposite way. Exciting, plays wide open. All-American in football.
"I am excited to be an Atlanta Brave," Francoeur said. "Through our talks this past week, they have a pretty good idea what we are looking
Clark feels confident the two parties can come to terms. Right after making the selection he came out of the draft room at Turner Field
wearing a confident smile.
"There was no way we wanted to see that guy wearing another uniform," Clark said. "He has had an outstanding career thus far and we
hope the next chapter is just as successful. He has tremendous ability and character, which are exactly what we are looking for in this
Francoeur won four state high school championships, two each in baseball and football. Last Friday, with Clark in attendance, he went
6-for-7 with four home runs and seven RBIs in a two-game sweep of Lassiter High School in the state championship series. To add to
the memorable events of the day, he was the winning pitcher in both contests.
"It was pretty amazing," Francoeur said. "It was definitely a great day."
It was a day that capped an unbelievable high school career. Francoeur, a four-year letter winner in baseball, hit .487 with 16 home runs,
49 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 37 games during his senior season. Overall in high school, he batted .443 with 55 homers and 164
RBIs. During his junior year, he hit 20 home runs in his last 21 games.
The scouting report on Francoeur says he has a similar body type to former Braves star Dale Murphy and covers a lot of ground in the
outfield. In addition, scouts say the 6-foot-4 right-handed slugger has great bat speed and can hit for power to both sides of the field.
In December, Francoeur, an All-American wide receiver and defensive back, led Parkview's football team to a second consecutive
undefeated season that culminated with a state championship. He was selected as Georgia's high school football player of the year.
Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden called Francoeur on Monday afternoon and has known for some time that he might not be able to
suit up one of his top recruits.
"We still have to negotiate the contract [with the Braves]," Francoeur said. "I'm still prepared to go to Clemson if we can't work something
out. But the Braves knew before they took me what I am looking for."
Francoeur became the third straight Georgia native to be selected with the Braves' first selection in the draft. His selection ends a streak
of four consecutive years in which the organization has chosen a pitcher with its top pick.
Macay McBride, the Braves' top selection last year, is currently pitching at Class A Macon. The hard-throwing southpaw from Sylvania, Ga.,
is 3-4 with 2.53 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .204 against him and he has 47 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings.
Mike Kelly, who was acquired in the 1991 draft, is the organization's most recent top selection to make his Major League debut with the
Braves. One year earlier, the Braves selected Chipper Jones with the draft's first overall selection.
Mark Bowman covers the Braves for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its