Braves sign top draft pick Kolby Allard

DENVER – It took a little longer than the Braves expected, but they finally have a contract agreement with their top draft pick.

Kolby Allard, the 17-year-old California left-hander selected by the Braves with the No. 14 pick in last month’s draft, agreed to terms Thursday on a bonus of $3,042,000, which was $200,000 above the assigned slot value for that pick.

“While we do have an agreement in place, it won’t be finalized until he completes a physical next week,” Braves assistant general manager John Coppolella said.

Allard missed most of his senior season with a stress fracture in his back, but has been throwing for more than two months.

He was the only unsigned draft pick among the Braves’ top 25, and one of only two from the top 15 overall picks in the draft who had not signed before Thursday. The signing deadline is July 17.

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It was Allard, not the Braves, who broke the news when he posted on his Twitter account late Thursday afternoon: “Headin’ out to #BravesCountry in a couple of days. Let the journey begin!!! #CHOPNation.”

The Braves believed on draft night that Allard would sign quickly. The pitcher told reporters minutes after he was picked, ““We haven’t agreed on money as far as I know, but I don’t think that’s going to be much of a problem.” He had an oral commitment to attend UCLA, but Allard made it clear in early talks with Braves officials that he was eager to start his professional baseball career, not a college career.

Some draft analysts said he would have been the top high-school pitcher in the draft, and a top-10 draft selection, if not for the injury

Allard, represented by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management, will get a bonus larger than three players selected above him: the Nos. 9, 12 and 13 picks.

He entered his senior season as a first-team Perfect Game preseason All-American and has what Braves scouting director Brian Bridges called one of, if not the best curveball in the draft, to complement a low- to mid-90s fastball. He pitched only seven innings as a senior before the injury in mid-March.

Allard, who is listed at 6 feet 1 and 180 pounds, has been throwing for more than two months and is said to be fully recovered from the injury.

He’ll be joined in the Braves minor league system by his close friend and San Clemente High School batterymate, catcher Lucas Herbert, whom the Braves drafted in the second round with the 54th pick. Herbert signed for $1,125,200.

If not for a stress fracture in Allard’s lower back that ended his senior season after it barely began, the Braves thought there was no way he would’ve been still available in the middle of the first round.

Allard entered the season as a first-team Perfect Game preseason All-American and has what Bridges called one of, if not the best curveball in the draft to complement a low- to mid-90s fastball. He missed most of the season with the injury, pitching only seven innings and allowing a .143 batting average before he was hurt in mid-March.

As a 16-year-old junior, Allard had a 1.32 ERA and struck out 98 in 63 2/3 innings with 17 walks. He has a developing changeup to go with his outstanding curveball.

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