Padres 2014 MLB Draft Preview

It’s a great time of year. The MLB season is well underway and the draft is this Thursday. While just a few of the top players selected will ever be significant contributors on the senior circuit, the hope that Thursday brings to organizations is unmatched.

For the second year in a row the Padres possess the 13th overall pick ($2,723,300 bonus allotment), and once again appear primed to select the top player that unexpectedly slides out of the top 10 selections. But who exactly that pick will be still seems to be up in the air based off a lack of expert consensus:

Keith Law Jim Callis John Mayo John Manuel Chris Crawford Perfect Game Minor League Ball Kiley McDaniel
Mock 1 Trea Turner Bradley Zimmer Max Pentecost Touki Toussaint Brady Aiken Sean Newcomb Max Pentecost
Mock 2 Trea Turner Touki Toussaint Michael Conforto Bradley Zimmer Luis Ortiz Kyle Schwarber Trea Turner Max Pentecost
Mock 3 Trea Turner Michael Conforto Trea Turner
Mock 4 Touki Toussaint Erick Fedde
Mock 5 Touki Toussaint
Mock 6 Max Pentecost

For the last few years the Padres’ top selections have shared the common thread of impressive now ability and legitimate long-term upside. When evaluating the potential top targets it’s important to keep this blend in mind as it requires a certain type of player to fit this mold (consider Max Fried’s impressive fastball and curveball when drafted mixed with his projectable frame and clean mechanics, or Hunter Renfroe’s impressive power and speed mixed with his developing ability to recognize and hit different pitch types).

This year’s draft is considered especially deep in high school pitching, with a relatively thin group of elite overall talent at the top of the draft. Here’s a look at the top group that figures to be gone well before the Padres make their first selection:

  • Carlos Rodon, LHP – top player in the the class for almost two years now has faultered slightly but still a top five lock
  • Brady Aiken, LHP – originally looked like a favorite to stay home in San Diego but had an incredible season that has him in the mix for the first overall pick
  • Tyler Kolek, RHP – 6-foot-5 high schoolers that touch 102 just don’t seem to fall in the draft. Weird.
  • Alex Jackson, C – another local product that shot up draft boards as a catcher that can hit
  • Nick Gordon, SS – electric shortstop – son of Tom Gordon, brother of Dee
  • Aaron Nola, RHP – extremely polished college arm whose consistent production in the SEC upped his value
  • Jeff Hoffman, RHP – was a favorite to go in the top three but Tommy John surgery probably knocked him out of consideration due to organizational…um…issues with elbows (note: confirmed by Jeff Sanders)

Based on industry consensus and the Padres’ draft history here’s our best guess at how the organization has ranked the players likely to be around at their pick:

  1. Kyle Freeland, LHP – extreme control pitcher with a premium fastball/slider combination
  2. Trea Turner, SS – true shortstop with electric speed and good feel for hitting
  3. Max Pentacost, C – offensive-minded catcher who is good enough to stick at the position. Even with Hedges and Grandal in the organization, Pentacost may be too valuable to pass up.
  4. Bradley Zimmer, OF – he’s had one of the best offensive seasons in the country, but questions remain about his power and final position in the field
  5. Derek Hill, CF – true centerfielder with elite defensive ability. Game-changing athleticism with a simple swing and impressive results.
  6. Sean Newcomb, LHP – recent breakout performer that has great stuff, but short track record of controlling his arsenal
  7. Touki Toussaint, RHP – potentially has the best raw stuff in the draft, but like Newcomb, Toussaint is yet to show consistent control
  8. Michael Conforto, OF – extremely polished hitter without any other carrying tools
  9. Grant Holmes, RHP –  advanced for a high school pitcher but also lacks much future projection. That might not matter as Holmes already sits in the mid-90s with an elite curveball and progressing changeup.

The Pick

No idea, but the pressure is on. This yearly preview has nailed the Padres’ first selection each of the last two years. Two years is a fluke, but three years equals the ability to gaze into the future with impeccable accuracy.

In 2013 the picture was similarly cloudy, so it was a gut call of Hunter Renfroe after seeing these bat flips:

In reviewing the list above, one player’s athleticism and ability stuck out above the rest:

Hill’s swing has similarities to 2013 draftee Jordan Paroubeck, both use strong hands and quick wrists to drive the ball to the pull side. Hill has skills you can dream on with the legitimate potential to be a five-tool contributor – a trait that many of the Padres’ top hitter picks over the last few years have possessed.

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 for updates. If you feel like diving in to draft coverage this week, give a follow to Keith Law, Jonathan Mayo, Kiley McDaniel and Jim Callis.


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