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Leadoff: What the experts say about Braves’ top draft pick

The Braves used their first draft pick on a pitcher for the fourth year in a row, selecting Florida high school right-hander Carter Stewart at No. 8 overall Monday night. Here’s what those in the know say about him: 

> Bob Collins, Stewart’s coach at Eau Gallie High in Melbourne, Fla., told Florida Today: “The spin ratio of his breaking ball is higher than any spin ratio of any major league guy right now. It looks like a fastball coming at you, and then the bottom drops out. It’s freaky. … I’ve been doing this 22 years now. He’s like no one I’ve ever seen.” 

> According to sports performance data service TrackMan, Stewart’s breaking ball has the highest average spin rate in amateur baseball. The service measured one pitch Stewart threw as having the fifth-highest spin rate it has ever tracked, the Braves noted.

> MLB.com offered this scouting report: “He has been as lights-out as any prep arm in the country, coming out of the gate up to 98 mph and touching 96-97 mph in just about every start and easily sits 92-94 mph. He has one of the best breaking balls in the class, a power curve that is now a mid-80s hammer. While his changeup is behind right now, and he occasionally slows his arm down, he has feel for it and it should be a solid pitch in the future.” 

> Former major-league pitcher Ron Darling’s assessment of  the 6-foot-6 Stewart on MLB Network’s draft telecast: “When you look at his body of work so far, he’s one of those high school pitchers that is long and lean, he’s got a great pitcher’s body, you know he’s going to fill out and even throw harder at some point. He has the command beyond his years, and his breaking ball right now, at his level, against people his age, is almost unhittable. So when you have that kind of stuff, it makes the scouts -- it makes teams and everyone else -- drool.”

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» Also: Braves draft outfielder with second pick

TODAY’S LEADOFF LINKS

> More on the Braves’ draft: Read Mark Bradley’s column here and Gabe Burns’ report here.

> Duke swept Georgia in a doubleheader Monday on the final day of the NCAA Athens Regional. See Chris Starrs’ report here.

> Atlanta United has a chance to create some serious separation in the East, Doug Roberson reports.

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