The MLB Draft is upon us once again as teams will gather this Thursday to welcome the newest batch of talent into the professional ranks. The Padres own the 13th pick this year after finishing with a 76-86 record in 2012 and do not pick again until 50th in what is seen as a below average draft.
Full Disclosure: Typically a member of the Padres Prospects team will make it out to at least one pre-draft event to get in-person perspective on the top talent available – this is not one of those years. So, pretty much all information you will see has been gathered from trusted sources and well-known national analysts. If you feel like diving in to draft coverage this week, give a follow to Keith Law, Jonathan Mayo, Kiley McDaniel and Jim Callis.
Thoughts on the Padres’ Strategy
As has been discussed in previous years, the Padres’ current front office attempts to find the right blend of upside and existing ability when selecting players. In recent years this strategy has created a huge influx of pitching talent that is the envy of just about every team in the league. While being flush with high-profile arms is great, it has also led to a relative lull in top-tier hitting talent in the Padres’ organization.
Because of this, the vast majority of rumors floating around the Padres at 13 have them in on every top hitter that could be available. Captain of the ship Chad MacDonald and company will have $6,808,900 to play with (assuming San Diego’s first 11 picks sign) this year, which is approximately $300,000 less than the Padres averaged from 2007-2011 when they were able to choose how much was spent on the draft. For those less familiar with draft spending rules, this breakdown from Baseball America is a great read.
On to the Players!
Yet again we will do our (embarrassing) best to take a shot at the Padres’ draft board heading into Thursday. This is much more difficult than in recent years as the Padres picking at 13 adds many more variables and unknowns than a top 10 pick due to other teams doing potentially crazy things.
Included below are the approximate tiers top players fall under (based off national consensus) along with a brief thought or two on their relevance to the Padres.
Tier 1 (AKA: LOL, No Way!)
Mark Appel, P – the Padres had a chance to grab Appel in 2012 but passed in order to stick to their original plan of acquiring multiple top pieces instead of just one
Jonathan Gray, P – huge arm with some delivery concerns, but no way he makes it out of the top four picks
Kris Bryant, 3B – would be a great story if the Padres were able to draft the USD product, but Bryant seems destined for a top-five pick
Kohl Stewart, P – early season personal favorite to land with San Diego but there are too many teams with legitimate interest above the Padres
Colin Moran, 3B – extremely polished hitter that won’t make it out of the top eight. Would have been a really nice piece to add.
Tier 2 (AKA: If Things Break Just Right)
Clint Frazier, OF – bat speed, bat speed and more bat speed. Would be a dream scenario that is getting less likely by the day. Plus, Padres bloggers would get to write about a redheaded prospect, which would just get weird.
Austin Meadows, OF – the all-around athlete that was the favorite to go first overall until he was outperformed by other blue-chip guys. Another personal favorite.
Braden Shipley, P – his stock took off this season as he showed electric stuff coming from his always-great arm strength. While a pitcher doesn’t seem in the plans, he’d be a good one.
Reese McGuire, C – this sure would be interesting, as the Padres would be adding another defensive wizard behind the plate to the fold. You can never have enough catching talent and I honestly think the Padres would consider grabbing McGuire due to his value at that pick, but teams in the top several picks seem to have heavy interest.
Tier 3 (AKA: It Will Probably Be One of These)
Trey Ball, P/OF – a few analysts have said that the Padres are one of only a few organizations that are interested in Ball as an outfielder rather than a pitcher, which doesn’t give a ton of confidence in him being the pick. He’s shown plus velocity from the left side with a polished curveball.
Hunter Renfroe, OF – great athlete with 70 power that finally started to translate into production this year. A bit of a lottery ticket as he lacks the track record of a typical college bat.
DJ Peterson, 3B – not built like a typical third baseman or blessed with the defensive tools to stay there long term. His value totally resides in a bat that profiles very similarly to the Padres’ own Jedd Gyorko.
Dominic Smith, 1B – Southern California product that posses the most advanced feel for hitting amount high school hitters. His elite arm strength is wasted at first base, but otherwise profiles as a below-average defender in left field.
JP Crawford, SS – another Southern California product that makes a lot of sense for the Padres at 13 as there is a perceived severe lack of shortstop talent within the organization. Great defensive tools with limited offensive upside.
Tim Anderson, SS – one of the most interesting players in the entire draft as he was eligible for the draft last year but went undrafted before focusing on baseball full time in junior college while showing elite tools and production. Anderson hasn’t been linked to the Padres but he fits the mold of their targets in recent years.
Tier 4 (AKA: If They’ve Just Been Messing with Everyone)
Ian Clarkin, P | Phil Bickford, P | Hunter Harvey, P – while all the talk thus far has been focused on hitters, the Padres are still an organization that has aggressively pursued top pitching talent in the draft. Clarkin (San Diego) and Bickford (Los Angeles) are both relatively polished high school arms, while Harvey burst onto the scene this year when he began toughing upper-90s. All fit the Max Fried/Joe Ross/Zach Eflin/Walker Weickel mold, so it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see the Padres grab one unexpectedly.
The Prediction at 1-13
A hitter. Ok, ok…Hunter Renfroe.
While things should become more clear over the next few days it feels like a total crapshoot at this point to make a guess. It really seems like the organization covets a hitter in the first round, but what other teams do is so unpredictable that there’s a non-zero chance an arm the Padres truly prefer falls to them.
Renfroe is a pretty amazing story as he really scuffled in his first two collegiate seasons before putting it all together this year. He’s got four legitimate tools (defense, arm, speed and power) that have consistently shown through in games. Renfroe’s hitting ability is the only remaining question mark, and while he will swing-and-miss a fair amount his approach seems advanced enough to translate.
Renfroe already possesses an 80-grade bat flip, which tipped the scales in his favor for our purposes:
We’ll be providing pre-draft coverage and thoughts on any interesting picks the Padres make so be sure to follow Padres Prospects on Twitter for the latest news and rumors and check back here later this week for updates.
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