The Padres Franchise Draft

This October will have special meaning—it will mark 10 full years of The Sacrifice Bunt. To help celebrate the occasion, Dustin and I are teaming up with co-founder Ray to try something new: a Padres franchise draft.

What is the draft? We’re imagining what would happen if we each created our own new team from players only in the Padres organization. As is usually the case when talking about players, their contract matters for both length and dollar amount. So if you draft Wil Myers you have to pay him the ~$66 million owed over the next five years. It’s basically our best guess at everyone’s relative trade value, except we disguised it as a draft instead of just a straight ranking.

Here’s how our draft shook out, followed by comments from each manager:

Dustin: Fernando Tatis Jr

What a shocker, huh? Tatis probably has the best shot of becoming a true superstar of anyone in the organization, and every small-market team wants a homegrown superstar to build around. Maybe he doesn’t stick at short forever and maybe he chases a few too many breaking balls, but there’s a lot to work with here. With a good first half in 2018, Tatis should be a consensus top five prospect in all of baseball. And he’s all mine.

Ray: Austin Hedges

In just his first year as a starter, Hedges has already established himself as an elite defender (first in FRAA), and this makes him a top 50 player according to WARP. It’s true that his bat is well behind but if it catches up, Hedges becomes a legitimate superstar. And even if he doesn’t, who better to usher in all the young pitching I’m about to draft?

Chris: Manuel Margot

Despite playing different positions, Margot and Hedges have similar profiles as defensive elites to the point where above average bats can turn them into stars. Margot is lowkey ranked 23rd in all of MLB by Fangraph’s combined defense statistic, with an average hitting performance being enough to lead the Padres in fWAR. That offensive output made me glad to have him with the third pick.

Chris: MacKenzie Gore

I didn’t draft as much upside in later rounds, but I think Gore has enough of that to spare. Literally oodles of upside. Four plus pitches, plus control, and a 100 emoji debut in the AZL is enough to stop any fan’s heart, he also has an awesome leg kick. But he’s not just a pitcher, he’s a young pitcher, and pitchers can break your heart.

Ray: Cal Quantrill

While Quantrill’s numbers have been underwhelming in his first full year as a pro, a lot of this can be tied back to the TJ surgery that he’s still recovering from. He’s still the same player who had 1.1 hype (before the surgery) (supposedly) and while ace might be a ceiling too high for him, a solid number two is nothing to pass up.

Dustin: Luis Urias

I could have gone with Michel Baez or Adrian Morejon here, but there’s something about the relative safety of a good position player prospect that still appeals to my TJ-hating heart. Urias didn’t develop any power this year at San Antonio, but he still hit .296 with 68 walks and just 65 strikeouts as a 20-year-old. I like my middle infield.

Dustin: Dinelson Lamet

I could have gone with Baez or Morejon here, as well, but Lamet has already done it on the big stage, and there’s value in that. His ERA actually sits a tick or two below average this year, but the peripherals are better and he’s going to strike out 11 per nine as a rookie. He’s probably more of a mid-rotation starter in the long run—because who isn’t?—but it’s not unreasonable to squint and see a quasi-ace, especially if a third pitch develops.

Ray: Michel Baez

The Padres have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to young pitching and Baez, who’s only been in the organization for nine months, embodies this as well as anyone. A 6’8″ beast, he tore up Single-A this year and should be blistering Hedges’ hand sooner than later.

Chris: Brad Hand

Brad Hand isn’t the Padres player with the most value, but he is the Padre with the most value who makes sense to be traded. The Padres control his future for two more arbitration years, and while racking up saves will increase his price, he’ll still be a bargain. The nice thing about him is I have some freedom to choose the players I get back in the trade, so I can plug holes where the farm system is thin (hint: not pitchers). The market for Hand wasn’t what the Padres wanted in July, but markets can be fluid. I think we’ll see him dealt for a package the Padres are comfortable with in the offseason.

Chris: Hunter Renfroe

Renfroe lost some prospect shine in a major league debut where he couldn’t seem to find a skill to pair with his big time power. His OBP wasn’t even that great of a batting average (.285), and while we expected something like above average defense, that wasn’t what we saw or what was measured. That’s just a year of defensive data though, and DRS wasn’t nearly as down on Renfroe as UZR. He seemed to have a good attitude after being demoted to El Paso, and has some years left to continue working on his game. Sometimes these things take patience, and his excellent power should help carry other skills.

Special bonus: he isn’t a pitcher.

Ray: Adrian Morejon

Another pitcher?? Well, yeah. Morejon was the crown jewel of Preller’s huge international signing season and while he’s looking like more of a work in progress than his paisano, it’s important to remember that Morejon is still only 18 and with older guys ahead of him, and Hedges doing his thing, I’ve got time to let him develop.

Dustin: Wil Myers

It’s tough to balance the value of a veteran—which Myers ostensibly is—with a bunch of young prospects, but for all the narrative around Myers as a disappointment, he still has two cheap seasons remaining on his contract. If he can improve just a little bit, there’s a lot of surplus value to be had in that two-year window, and $22.5 million a year for three years after that is hardly a bank-buster.

Dustin: Franchy Cordero

I surprised myself with this pick, but Cordero had 24 doubles, 21 triples, 20 home runs, and 16 steals in just 518 plate appearances between El Paso and the majors. The strikeout rate is a (neon-colored) red flag and the PCL is a hitter’s haven, but he just turned 23 and he might be a better defensive center fielder than Margot. Consider this my bandwagon application.

Ray: Anderson Espinoza

Yes, he’s recovering from TJ surgery and yes, he’s going to end up missing two years of development but Espinoza is still only going to be 21 when he gets back. To put that into perspective, that’s how old Baez is and how old Quantrill was last year when he was still working his way back. And while his stock might slip, his ceiling was so high to begin with that he has a lot of room to spare.

Chris: Jacob Nix

I struggled with this pick, as Ray alluded earlier to the Padres’ embarrassment of riches is in both high end pitching prospects but also prospect depth. I went with Nix thinking he’s got the best combination of upside (including a fastball that flashes 97) with the likelihood of sticking in a rotation.

You can follow Ray, Dustin, and Chris on Twitter.

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