Padres Add More High School Talent in MLB Draft

After grabbing Hunter Renfroe in the first round, the Padres continued their assumed strategy of aggressively pursuing hitting talent in the 2013 MLB Draft.

Dustin Peterson:

With their second pick of Day 1, the Padres selected Dustin Peterson – brother of 12th overall pick DJ Peterson – a high school shortstop out of Gilbert, Arizona. Peterson features a well-rounded skillset that projects him to have at least average physical tools across the board. He was always a known commodity but seemed to have carved his way into elite status later into his high school season.

Peterson’s simple swing should translate very well to professional ball as he features an extremely quiet lower half that lets his strong wrists whip the bat through the zone at an incredible rate. While Peterson has struggled with off-speed stuff to this point – like most players his age – his tools suggest a quick learning curve.

The Padres announced Peterson as a shortstop on draft day but he’s likely to transition to second base where his actions and athleticism should make him a plus defender.

Watch video of Peterson via MLB.com.

Where he ranked:

39th by ESPN, 57th by Scout.com, 62nd by Baseball America and 73rd by MLB.com

What the experts are saying:

Keith Law:

“Peterson, the younger brother of New Mexico third baseman and fellow top-50 prospect D.J. Peterson, may be the best draft prospect in his family this year, as he has a looser, leaner body than D.J. does and could potentially stay in the middle infield, albeit at second base rather than at short.”

Baseball America:

“He has lightning quick hands and shows a sweet swing with the ability to create loft and backspin. He projects to hit for solid average and above-average power to all fields.”

Jonathan Mayo:

“The ball jumps off his bat, and he has the chance to hit for both average and plenty of power. While Peterson has good hands and a solid arm, most feel he won’t stay at shortstop but has all the tools to profile very well at the hot corner, the same position his big pro plays.”

Will he sign?

While Peterson’s brother went on to have a very successful college career, Dustin Peterson is much more highly regarded at the same age. It may take an over-slot deal but the Padres appear to have saved money in other rounds to plan for this.

Jordan Paroubeck:

With their final pick of Day 1 the Padres elected to continue adding to their stockpile of offensive talent by selecting Jordan Paroubeck out of San Mateo, CA. Paroubeck has gained significant notoriety as his swing coach for the last several years is a pretty well known family friend and fellow Serra High School alum – Barry Bonds.

Much like Peterson, Paroubeck features a very quiet lower half that allows his above average bat speed to shine through. He’s a switch hitter that features a slightly less complicated swing from the left side but should continue to utilize the platoon advantage into his professional career.

Paroubeck is really all ceiling at this point as he hasn’t developed physically enough to show his impressive raw power or dominate in games with what can generously be called a 35 hit tool. But, the raw abilities are there and Paroubeck has the ceiling to be an above average player on both offense and defense as his game matures.

Paroubeck’s athleticism plays well in the outfield where his speed and arm strength shine, but fundamentally he’s a ways off as his routes to balls and throwing mechanics need attention.

Where he ranked:

52th by ESPN, 65th by Scout.com, 64nd by Baseball America and 80rd by MLB.com

What the experts are saying:

Keith Law:

“He’s raw overall, as a hitter and a fielder, and has a fair amount of physical maturing to do as well, making him a project, a high-risk guy with pretty significant upside as an above-average regular, maybe even a star if he can stay in center.”

Baseball America:

“Paroubeck stands out with his athletic, 6-foot-2, 185-pound build and has plenty of room in his frame to add strength. A switch-hitter, he has a loose, simple swing from both sides of the plate and has the tools to be an average hitter with above-average power potential. Paroubeck is a plus runner now but will likely slow down as he gets stronger and projects as a corner outfielder.”

Jonathan Mayo:

“Paroubeck, an outfielder, has impressed this spring with a loose, easy swing from both sides of the plate. He generates good power already and should add more as he physically matures. He covers ground well in the outfield and has a strong, accurate arm.”

Will he sign?

While nothing is guaranteed, Paroubeck appears to be the easiest sign out of the Padres’ crop. He has a commitment to Fresno State but San Diego is confident he’ll join the organization.

Mason Smith

Smith is an interesting player as he’s faced extremely limited competition on a regular basis in his Idaho hometown. Like the high school draftees detailed above, Smith features a short, compact swing that relies on a quiet lower half and plus bat speed.

Also like Peterson and Paroubeck, Smith projects to have at least average tools across the board with a chance to be plus offensively. While he has the look of a top athlete, Smith is only an average defender who doesn’t appear to be a center fielder in the long run.

Where he ranked:

71th by ESPN, 110th by Scout.com and 101nd by Baseball America

What the experts are saying:

Keith Law:

“His hands are quick and his swing is very rotational, producing hard line-drive contact with the chance for above-average power in the future. He’s not a center fielder in the long run, as he’s a fringy runner at best and probably will start his pro career in right.”

Baseball America:

“He has a short, quick righthanded swing, with the potential to be an above-average hitter with at least average power. He could be an average defender, but his arm is below-average. He has lost a step this spring and now is graded as a below-average runner, though he is a good athlete.”

Will he sign?

Smith is committed to Utah, but he has already notified clubs that he will forgo the traditional two-year Mormon mission which may signify a stronger than normal desire to begin his career. Reports gauge the consensus among clubs is that he will sign.

Jake Bauers

Bauers isn’t a prototypical top-of-the-draft first base prospect as he is already limited to one position defensively and doesn’t project to be a masher. But what he does offer is a relatively advanced pure hitting ability that consistently leads to hard contact.

These characteristics have led to comparisons to fellow Marina High School alum Daric Barton who features a contact over power approach.

Bauers projects to be at least an average defender as he is able to efficiently move around the bag and utilize his solid athleticism. His lack of standout tools limit Bauers’ overall ceiling but offer an intriguing package to start a professional career.

Watch video of Bauers via MLB.com.

Where he ranked:

173rd by Baseball America

What the experts are saying:

Baseball America:

“He has one of the best bats in the Southern California draft class, with a short lefthanded stroke, excellent barrel awareness and a knack for making frequent hard contact. He also has solid pull power, giving him a chance to be an average hitter with fringe-average to solid-average pop down the road.”

MLB.com:

“He quickly has proven to be one of Southern California’s elite hitters and now draws comparisons to Daric Barton, who also went to Marina. Bauers barrels up balls well with his short, compact swing. He has some pop already and should develop more as he puts more muscle on his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame.”

Will he sign?

Bauers is a University of Hawaii commit that may be tough to sign away. He’s part of an impressive class and unless the Padres believe his bat projects beyond industry consensus they may be unwilling to go beyond slot values.

Noteworthy Late-Round Picks

Garrett Williams

Watch video of Williams via MLB.com.

Where he ranked:

45th by Scout.com, 60th by MLB.com and 66th by Baseball America

What the experts are saying:

Keith Law:

“A tall, loose-armed lefty who can spin a curveball, Williams’ inconsistency may cost him some money this June, but the glass-half-full view has him as a projectable southpaw who has already shown he can touch 94 mph.”

Baseball America:

“At times he has shown his 90-93 fastball, but more often he’s sitting 88-91, and at other times his fastball dips to 86-89 mph. Williams still has a plus breaking ball, though, a sharp curveball. His changeup also has potential to be a solid big league offering.”

Will he sign?

William’s fall is pretty mysterious as there weren’t any publicly reported large bonus demands, only teams acting cautiously from a medical perspective. He’s unlikely to get anything close to a first-round offer from the Padres, but they may be able to come to a mid point.

Chris Okey

Watch video of Okey via MLB.com.

Where he ranked:

46th by ESPN, 82nd by Scout.com, 52nd by MLB.com and 72nd by Baseball America

What the experts are saying:

Baseball America:

“A Clemson signee, he has a long legacy with the school, where his grandfather helped found the school’s booster club and his mother was a cheerleader. He may not make it there, though, because he’s expected to go out in the first three rounds thanks to his track record, solid bat and athleticism. Scouts have compared him to Jason Kendall and fellow Eustis native Jonathan Lucroy for his lean body and offensive potential.”

Keith Law:

“He has a plus arm and soft enough hands to stay behind the plate, with his agility also a bonus but his slightly small frame a minor concern about his durability there. He’s a solid third-round choice who could go as high as the sandwich round if a team has no doubt he can remain a full-time catcher.”

Will he sign?

Okey dropped for good reason as he has a family connection to Clemson that is made stronger by the fact that he’s seen as the crown jewel that will jumpstart their program. The Padres may have an outside shot if they’re able to save money elsewhere.

Connor Jones

Watch video of Jones via MLB.com.

Where he ranked:

29th by ESPN, 41st by Scout.com, 53rd by MLB.com and 34th by Baseball America

What the experts are saying:

Baseball America:

“Jones pitches from a three-quarters arm slot and sits 90-91 mph while touching a tick higher. His biggest strength is fastball life, as he throws a heavy ball that gets above-average sink. He also throws a slider that flashes plus at times and a changeup that could be an average pitch down the road.”

Keith Law:

“He comes from a slot just below 3/4, turning the ball over hard at release, sitting 92-94 with riding life up. His slider is inconsistent but flashes as a 55 pitch, 77-81 with late dive, while his changeup is hard and finishes up in the zone too much.”

Will he sign?

While Jones didn’t pull out of the draft completely as some expected, he did send each club a letter announcing he was set on honoring his commitment to Virginia. The Padres are realistic about their chances to sign him and are simply taking a small gamble on the off chance Jones has a change of heart.

*****

Quick thought on player types:

While the Padres have consistently owned one of the top systems in the league over the last few years, high-ceiling hitting talent has been hard to come by. A significant focus on pitching and really a lack of opportunities had left the system barren.

Head of the Padres draft Chad MacDonald said early on that they were looking to bring more offensive talent into the fold, leaving many curious as to the type of hitters the Padres would be targeting.

Now that the draft is over a few characteristics are clear of what MacDonald and company are looking for in their hitters:

  • Traditional frames: while the new regime is likely willing to gamble on outlier players, there appears to be a strong preference for guys that look the part
  • A chance to contribute on both offense and defense: guys that are selected need to have at least an outside chance of being near average in all five physical attributes.
  • Clean, rotational swings: each hitter that the Padres selected that has a legitimate opportunity to contribute at the big league level possess an extremely quiet lower half that focuses on leveraging plus bat speed.

Quick closing note:

Padres fans, you should be ecstatic. After years of terrible drafting and anyone but scouts making decisions the amateur side of the organization is in great shape. Three years in a row now this group has shown the ability to identify elite talent and the willingness to put in the hard work and commitment to sign and develop it. There is admittedly a long way to go for the big league club, but if what is happening elsewhere in the org is any indication things are looking up.

I checked in with many different sources looking for any sort of negative feedback on the Padres’ amateur strategy over the last few years – not to find it and point it out, but simply to find a differing opinion – and found nothing but great things said. This doesn’t mean the front office should get a free pass on anything, simply that when you hear the future is bright please believe that is very true.

The types of talent detailed above are exactly what every team needs – and this system lacked – electric, high-ceiling players with the legitimate potential to be a star.

*****

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  • rr

    Excellent analysis. Keep it coming

  • blahdu

    love it.