As the Padres start the 2016 season with three rule 5 draftees on the opening day roster, a lower payroll than 2015, and a player who was acquired to be the backup center-fielder currently being employed as the starting left-fielder, forgive me as my thoughts wander to what will come later this summer, the June amateur draft and the beginning of the new international signing period on July 2nd. With these two events, the Padres have the ability to restock their farm system with considerable talent, talent that is greatly needed to secure the future of the franchise.

Thankfully, to fuel my desire to look forward, Major League Baseball released the official draft order, total team-by-team draft bonus pool, individual draft position bonus slot values, and the team-by-team international bonus pool figures Tuesday morning, the day after the Padres suffered the worst opening day shutout defeat in MLB history. Read More…

The third pitcher taken by the Padres in this year’s amateur draft was a junior college right hander named Jordan Guerrero, notable for — among other things, presumably — being 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds. In a normal team’s draft class, Guerrero would likely stand as one of the tallest pitchers selected, if not the tallest. In fact, had he been drafted by one of five other teams — the Orioles, Reds, Indians, A’s, or Blue Jays — Guerrero would have been the tallest (or tied for the tallest) pitcher of his draft class.

Instead, Guerrero was taken by the Padres, where he was just the seventh tallest pitcher drafted, behind Trevor Megill (seventh round, 6-foot-8), Jerry Keel (ninth round, 6-foot-6), Trey Wingenter (17th round, 6-foot-7), Chase Williams (25th round, 6-foot-6), Corey Hale (27th round, 6-foot-7), and Adam Hill (39th round, 6-foot-6).

The Padres like tall pitchers, apparently.

But what about the rest of the league? Were the Padres unique in their preference for height on the mound, or were they just part of a league-wide trend?

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The Padres had only one pick in the major league draft on Monday, and they used it to take a high school right hander named Austin Smith with the 51st overall selection. (We babbled, albeit briefly, about Smith yesterday.) San Diego had eight more picks on Tuesday in rounds three through 10, and what follows are some notes on the newest members of the Padres’ organization.

Jacob Nix — Round 3, 86th overall, RHP, HS

In last year’s draft Nix, through no fault of his own, got caught up in the Astros-Brady Aiken snafu — you know, the one where the Astros significantly lowered their signing bonus offer to Aiken after a physical revealed he was pitching with an abnormally small UCL. The two parties — the Astros and Aiken — failed to reach an agreement and the Astros lost the nearly $8 million signing bonus slot money that accompanied the no. 1 overall pick. Nix, who was expected to sign an over-slot deal with the ‘Stros after they inked Aiken under-slot, was left out in the cold after verbally agreeing to a $1.5 million deal with Houston.

Nix eventually filed a grievance against the Astros and ended up getting the $1.5 million anyway, then he enrolled at IMG Academy in Florida, had a fine season, and was taken 86th overall by the Padres this year. He sits in the low-to-mid 90s with the fastball and improved the secondary offerings this spring, jumping him up to 37th on Baseball America’s top 500. The 86th pick carries a bonus slot near $700,000, so Nix should add another decent chunk of change to the bankroll. Not a bad ending to a situation that could’ve gotten uglier.

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The San Diego Padres selected right-handed pitcher Austin Smith in the second-round of the 2015 draft tonight. You can find lots of information about Smith all over the internet, a large percentage of it from people far more knowledgeable about his likely future than this writer. Here, for example, is what Kiley McDaniel said about him:

Smith has a big frame, smooth arm action and has run it up to 97 mph along with an above average curveball, so the starter traits and solid health indicators are there, but the lack of a plus secondary pitch has him in the second tier of prep arms.

Sounds good.

But here’s a potentially interesting piece of information about Smith: he’s relatively old for a high school draft pick. In fact, on McDaniel’s draft board, only seven of the 108 high schoolers listed are older than Smith, and the average age is 18.4 compared to 18.9 for Smith, who was born July 9th, 1996.

Various studies suggest that younger is better when it comes to draft prospects, perhaps most obviously because younger is better when it comes to baseball prospects in general. Take two guys in Double-A ball, both performing at the same level, and one’s 20 while the other one is 22. Which one are you taking? Take two players performing at the same level in high school, one’s almost 19 (Smith) while the other (Triston McKenzie, let’s say, drafted 42nd overall by the Indians) has yet to turn 18. Which one are you taking? There’s just more room for improvement for the younger player, especially if both players have shown a similar ability against comparable competition.

You’re smart, so you probably thinking … wait a second, there’s a lot more to a pitching prospect than age. Of course, you’re right, which is why there’s a decent chance this won’t matter — pitcher aging curves are funky, anyway. If Smith delivers as the Padres expect him to, he’ll turn into a valuable pitcher regardless of his age when he was drafted. Then again, if he doesn’t, maybe the Padres will look back and wish they gambled on a younger high school hurler.

Or something like that.

Living in Cleveland since 2006, I’ve been casually following the local NBA team, the Cavaliers, since my arrival. First, we had Lebron, and it was pretty cool. Then, all of a sudden, we had no Lebron, which wasn’t fun. Now we have Lebron again! It’s wild.

Wilder still, although the Cavs had the 9th worst record in the NBA last year, through the magic of the NBA draft lottery, they defied the odds and landed the 1st pick in this year’s draft. In the NBA, any team that doesn’t make the playoffs has a chance to win the #1 overall pick, and the Cavs lucked out, despite having less than a 2% chance of winning the lottery.

In MLB, there is no lottery, but there’s something almost as important. Teams who finish with the 10 worst records have their 1st round draft picks protected in the following year’s draft. That means those teams can sign a free agent who has received a qualifying offer from their current team without losing their first round draft pick. They’ll still forfeit a draft pick, but it will be a much less valuable 2nd round pick.

How much less valuable is a 2nd round pick? This year, the Padres paid their 1st round pick, Trea Turner, and over-slot bonus of $2.9 million. They also gave their 2nd round pick, Michael Gettys, an over-slot bonus, but of just $1.3 million. The gap only widens as you near the top of the draft, as top 10 picks in this year’s draft received bonuses up to $6.582 million, while no 2nd rounder got more than $1.8 million, and the highest slot value in the 2nd round was only $1.35 million.

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The Padres took Johnny Manziel, a football player of some renown, with their 28th-round pick in the 2014 first-year player draft. It’s a publicity stunt that had some fans wishing the team would pick a baseball player who might, you know, help on the field.

Problem is, 28th-round picks generally don’t. Paul Molitor is in the Hall of Fame, but he didn’t sign when the Cardinals drafted him in 1974.

Here are the best signed players ever drafted in the 28th round, listed in descending order by rWAR:

  1. Woody Williams, 1988, 30.9
  2. Dave Roberts, 1994, 9.0
  3. Sergio Romo, 2005, 7.9
  4. Luke Gregerson, 2006, 5.0
  5. Shane Spencer, 1990, 4.9

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Remember when Clayton Richard had potential? I mean, not potential all-star potential, but solid middle of the rotation starter potential? I remember it like it was 3 years ago. It was 3 years ago.

In 2010, Richard threw 200 innings for the first time. It was also the last time he struck out more 5 batters per 9 innings. That year Richard struck out nearly 7 per 9, gave up home runs on less than 10% of his fly balls, and had both an ERA and FIP under 4. The Padres almost went to the playoffs. It wasn’t bad times, until it was. Read More…