ATLANTA – The Atlanta Braves tonight concluded Day 1 of the 2022 First-Year Player Draft, making four total selections on the evening. The Braves took RHP Owen Murphy with their first-round selection, No. 20 overall, and selected RHP JR Ritchie at No. 35, RHP Cole Phillips at No. 57 and RHP Blake Burkhalter at No. 76 with their final pick of the night.
Ritchie, 19, pitched to a 7-0 record and a 0.39 ERA over 35.1 innings during his senior season at Bainbridge (WA) High School, striking out 75 and allowing just two earned runs. He lost just one game in his preparatory career, during his freshman year, and was named a First-Team All-America selection following the 2022 season. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound native of Bainbridge Island, WA, committed to attend UCLA in the fall.
Phillips, 19, carried a 4-0 record with 42 strikeouts and zero earned runs allowed over his first 23.1 innings in 2022 before undergoing Tommy John surgery in April and missing the remainder of his senior season at Boerne (TX) High School. MLB.com named Phillips in the discussion of having the “Best Fastball” in the draft class, and the 6-foot-3, 198-pounder is committed to attend the University of Arkansas collegiately.
Burkhalter, 21, became Auburn University’s first All-America relief pitcher in 17 years following a 2022 season that saw him post a 4-2 record with a 3.69 ERA (19 ER/46.1 IP) and 16 saves in 30 games out of the bullpen. He struck out 71 and walked just seven. In three years with the Tigers, the 6-foot-0, 204-pound native of Tuscaloosa, AL, combined to go 5-2 with a 3.01 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 71.2 innings. During his junior campaign in 2022, he was named a Second Team All-America selection by the ABCA, College Baseball Foundation and the NCBWA, and was a finalist for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award.
The Braves last took prep pitchers with each of their first three picks in 2016, when Atlanta selected RHP Ian Anderson and LHP Joey Wentz in the first round, and LHP Kyle Muller in the second.
The 2022 First-Year Player Draft will continue with Rounds 3-10 tomorrow afternoon, with the third round slated to begin at 2:00 p.m.