Luis Almanzar, 3B/SS, Low-A Tri-City
If don’t scout the stat line is a thing, then don’t scout the video clip is probably one too.
Either way, I couldn’t help but be impressed with that swing. I’m not sure how hard the pitch was or anything, but it looked like a fastball well inside on Almanzar’s hands, and he was able to turn on it, keep it fair, and line it to relatively deep left. That looks like some mighty fine bat speed for a guy who’s 17 years old, just a couple of week into his professional debut. Almanzar went 1-for-4 last night, which gives him an eight-game hitting streak; he also poked a (wind-aided) fly ball that was caught on the right-field warning track. Overall, he’s been off to a good start offensively, with five doubles, four steals, and nine walks (15 percent) in 13 games.
Defensively, it might be more of a work in progress. Almanzar had a ball clank off his glove at third last night and then awkwardly pulled up on a foul pop-up near the stands in the same inning. Further, Padres Jagoff didn’t seem overly impressed after his in-person viewing. It’s really early, of course, and it’s impressive enough that players like Almanzar are starting their careers in the Northwest League. We’ll try to chill out about the early returns, but it’s impossible to not pay attention. (Sac Bunt Dustin)
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)