Just after the draft, I did something ridiculous: I tried to predict all of the signing bonuses for Padres picks in the first 10 rounds. How’d I do?
Alright, not terrible. Not great, but not terrible.
I didn’t see MacKenzie Gore getting slot—or a little over slot, technically—but so be it. Give that dude all the money. Campusano signed for $400,000-plus under slot, which is kind of interesting given that he was considered the top catcher on the board. House signed for slot, which was also something of a surprise. Keating got quite a bit over, which we figured. Homza, Margevicius, and Basabe were right about where we had them. Leasher was more expensive than predicted, but maybe we weren’t considering park factors. The senior signs were cheaper than our guesses, but they’re always something of a wild card. After all that, though, one player’s signing bonus stood out (and completely destroyed my overall guesstimate).
Blake Hunt signed for $1,600,000, nearly twice his slot value of $858,600. I figured he’d be an under-slot signing.
MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (NC)
First round, third overall
Gore is like the high school version of two recent Padres draft picks, Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi. He’s got a different kind of scouting report than your usual coveted prep pitcher. There’s no blow-you-away velocity here—not yet, anyway. But Gore also has attributes rarely associated with a young pitcher. He possesses a deep repertoire of plus (or potential plus) offerings, he’s polished (at least for the HS breed), and he’s a super athlete, important for things like repeating mechanics and, ahem, staying healthy.
There are, of course, plusses and minuses in taking a high school pitcher this high. On the down side, there’s always plenty of risk attached to any pitcher, particularly a high school one. Gore, while dominant at the high school level, hasn’t proven that he can handle a professional workload or a professional hitter. And there’s always the issue of health, and being a good three or four years away, health is always an ominous shadow.
On the plus side, the Padres got a pitcher who hasn’t gone to college, where he’d potentially be abused to win a conference title or a game in Omaha. He’ll get professional instruction right away, where the Padres will be able to carefully handle his development and promotion schedule. Many major-league stars were drafted as high schoolers for a variety of reasons, and that’s part of the appeal here.
In a perfect world, Gore’s the right combination of upside and safety. That’s something of a rare mix, though the profile—any profile—still carries plenty of its own risk. Expect the Padres to take it easy with Gore early, but his advanced style could allow him to move through the lower levels somewhat quickly once he gets rolling. (Sac Bunt Dustin)