The Braves select Bob Horner as their first overall pick (June 6, 1978) in the June draft and promptly promote him to the parent club. The Arizona State corner infielder was the first recipient of the Golden Spikes Award, an honor given annually by USA Baseball to the best amateur baseball player.
He is one of only a handful of players to go directly from college to the starting lineup in the majors without spending a day in the minor leagues. In his first game, he belted a home run off future Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven of the Pirates. In 89 games Horner batted .266 with 23 home runs and 63 runs batted in in 323 at-bats, with an on-base percentage of .313 and a slugging percentage of .539. His 23 home runs led all National League third basemen in 1978. He won the National League Rookie of the Year honor over Ozzie Smith.
In 1979 Horner batted .314 with 33 homers and 98 RBI; In 1980, Horner batted .268, 35 HR, 89 RBI despite being sidelined for 79 games in both seasons after recurring shoulder and leg injuries. In the strike-shortened 1981 season he hit .277, 15 HR, 42 RBI in 79 games. Horner enjoyed his best statistical season in 1982, finishing with 32 home runs, 97 RBI, and an OBP of .350 while slugging .501.