Special to Ducksnorts by Peter Friberg
Last night I wrote “Padres Poised to Pop Pitcher” for Ducksnorts.com. I had the Padres preference backwards. The Padres left Missouri St. right-hander Brett Sinkbeil on the table and tabbed Wake Forest third baseman Matt Antonelli with their first-round selection (#17 overall).
Antonelli is not a huge power bat and will likely move off of third base to either second base or center field, where his athleticism and bat will play better. He was a three-year starter in college and has great plate discipline. His power did start to emerge this year (7 HR in his first two collegiate seasons, 11 this year).
With their supplemental first-round pick (#35), the Padres drafted a left-handed outfielder from Tennessee, Kyler Burke. Burke hit 20 home runs as a high school senior and aptly profiles to have “above average” raw power. He’s not just a masher, though. A pitcher in high school, his left-handed arm profiles nicely as above average for right field. Another nice tidbit about Burke — Baseball America indicates that he won his high school slam-dunk contest. That athleticism should play well in Petco’s spacious right field.
At #53, the other pick the Padres received from Baltimore’s signing of Ramon Hernandez, the Padres selected Chad Huffman. Huffman played first base, second base, and left field for the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. Watching his video on MLB.com he doesn’t look like a second baseman. His actions seemed forced and rigid, but his bat should play wherever…
The Padres had another second-round selection, their own, at #61; they chose University of Alabama left-hander Wade LeBlanc. LeBlanc won’t overwhelm anyone with his velocity, as he pitches in the mid- to high-80′s, but he’s been described as having the best control of any lefty in the draft. Padres’ scouting director, Grady Fuson, loves good changeups and Wade’s change is his best pitch.
Picking in the fourth round with the 93rd overall selection, the Padres tabbed another high school outfielder, Cedric Hunter from Georgia. Hunter has played in the famed East Cobb summer program that produced Atlanta’s Jeff Francouer and other top prospects. Both Baseball America and MLB.com wonder if he has enough range to stay in center field or enough bat to play in left, but both say he has rare polish for a high school bat in this draft.
In the 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds, the Padres selected three collegiate “pitchability” guys:
- #123 Nathaniel Culp, LHP, U. of Missouri Columbia (bio)
- #153 Andrew Underwood, RHP, Fresno St. (bio)
- #183 Timothy Bascom, RHP, Central Florida U. (bio)
…and in the 7th – 10th rounds the Padres selected a bunch of collegiate infielders:
- #213 Craig Cooper, 1B, Notre Dame (bio)
- #243 Thomas King, SS, Troy U. (bio)
- #273 David Freese, 3B, U. of South Alabama (bio)
- #303 Kody Valverde, C, U. of Alabama Tuscaloosa (bio)
Then with the 333rd pick of the draft, things got interesting again…
In the 11th round, the Padres picked a high school pitcher with first- or second-round talent, Matthew Latos. Latos has a fastball that sits at 93-94 mph and touches 96-97. He adds a power curveball to his high-velocity fastball. Latos did not fall to the 11th round without reason. Latos had various “maturity” issues that dogged him on the field and off. At his best Latos is a premiere talent. At his worst, he can’t control his temper… The Padres may try to persuade Latos to attend a junior college while they retain his rights for a year.
Then, again in the 14th round, the Padres selected another tough-to-sign player — though this time, the player is a tough sign for a completely different reason. With the 423rd pick, the Padres selected Grant Green out of an Orange County high school. Green is a true five-tool shortstop (who projects more as a third baseman). Green played on the Junior Team USA squad. Green may be a tough sign because he has a solid commitment to the University of Southern California. While he was the scouting director for Texas Rangers, Fuson took several gambles with these types of players (frequently getting the player he wanted). Fuson had already indicated that the Padres have some money to spend and that he intended to take some chances.