Grab a beverage, sit down, and get comfy. Well, maybe not that comfy; seriously, dude, have a little dignity.
As you know, MLB’s First-Year Player Draft is upon us. What’s in store for the Padres? Good question. Let’s take a look, shall we…
Draft Class Strengths and Weaknesses
Thursday, June 5, 2008
11 a.m. PT
The 2008 draft class features plenty of first baseman and relievers, but not much in the way of college pitching and middle infielders. According to Grady Fuson (for some reason not by-lined in the online version), the Padres are looking to add catching depth, corner outfielders with power, pitching, and perhaps help at shortstop if there’s any to be found. He also notes that their emphasis in on procuring the best available talent, not filling any specific needs:
You never want to go into a draft and say this is what the big league club doesn’t have, so this is what we’re going to draft. If you need a shortstop and it’s a terrible draft for shortstops, do you still take a shortstop? That would be crazy.
This is the old “draft for talent, trade for need” axiom at work. Paul DePodesta echoes these sentiments at his blog, with one notable caveat:
Every team out there always needs more good players at every position, especially at the lower levels of the minor league system. Rarely do teams target players in the draft with their immediate Major League needs in mind, with the one exception being a top end reliever. In recent years more and more college relievers have been selected in the top rounds of the draft in hopes that they could get to the big leagues quickly to fill a role.
I am not a big fan of drafting relievers early, but sometimes it works. Washington’s Chad Cordero (#20 overall in 2003) is one recent example. Another first-rounder taken in that same draft, Ryan Wagner (now Cordero’s teammate), hasn’t met with the same kind of success, reminding us yet again that “safe” is a relative concept.
Also, if Kevin Towers has shown us anything during his tenure as Padres GM, it’s that there are plenty of ways — this season notwithstanding — to build a strong bullpen. This doesn’t mean a team should avoid college relievers altogether, of course, just that maybe they’re not the top priority.
Great, but how does all this jibe with what the Padres have done in recent years?
Padres Draft History and Tendencies
MB at Friar Forecast notes that about 70% of the Padres’ draft picks from 2005 to 2007 have been used on college players. Looking back even further, the Padres have had 54 picks in the first or first supplemental round since their inception in 1969. Out of those, five have gone onto become stars:
- Dave Winfield (1973, #4 overall)
- Kevin McReynolds (1981, #6)
- Andy Benes (1988, #1)
- Derrek Lee (1993, #14)
- Khalil Greene (2002, #14)
In other words, it happens about once every eight years or so. Several others — Mike Ivie, Dave Roberts, Bill Almon, Bob Owchinko, Andy Hawkins, Bob Geren, Jimmy Jones, Shane Mack, Thomas Howard, Scott Sanders, Joey Hamilton, Dustin Hermanson, Ben Davis, and Sean Burroughs — have enjoyed varying degrees of success.
Players That Interest Me at #23
Who do I like? Well, bearing in mind that I’m getting my information second- and third-hand (from what I consider reliable sources, but still), here are some “persons of interest” as they say on the cop shows. Those of you who have been following along the past couple weeks will recognize many of these names:
- Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Fresno State U. (bio | report)
Considered a potential top 10 pick just a few months ago, a shoulder injury has made him one of the wild cards of this class. Whoever picks Scheppers will be assuming a great deal of risk, something the Padres may be reluctant to do both on general principle and because of their recent experiences with Tim Stauffer, Cesar Carrillo, and Nick Schmidt.
- Casey Kelly, SS/RHP, Sarasota (Fla.) HS (report)
The son of former big-league infielder Pat Kelly has a high ceiling but is committed to play quarterback at Tennessee. There are some concerns about Kelly’s bat and signability.
- Jemile Weeks, 2B, U. of Miami (bio | report)
Rickie’s younger brother possesses offensive skills that the Padres covet. He gets on base and runs well, an excellent combination for Petco Park. He may move to center field, which is still a premium defensive position. Weeks is one of the few guys on my list who might legitimately be on the Padres’ radar.
- Zach Collier, OF, Chino Hills (Calif.) HS (report)
Collier has crazy upside, but is raw. I don’t see the Padres taking on this much risk.
- Anthony Hewitt, SS, Salisbury School (Conn.) (report)
Another unpolished guy with tools galore, Hewitt evokes comparisons to Ron Gant and Bo Jackson (!) for his athleticism. Reports on the degree to which Hewitt is or will be able to use that ability in a meaningful way are varied. History is littered with tremendously talented individuals who just weren’t very good at baseball — Reggie Abercrombie, Joe Borchard, Drew Henson, Michael Jordan, Ruben Rivera, to name a few.
Players That Might Interest the Padres at #23
Given what we think we know about how the Padres operate, here are a few players they might be targeting with their first pick:
- Andrew Cashner, RHP, Texas Christian U. (bio | report)
Cashner’s fastball runs 96-98 mph, but his command is spotty. He has been used as a starter and reliever in college, but has had more success out of the ‘pen.
- Jason Castro, C, Stanford U. (bio | report)
Fuson has stated a desire to improve catching depth within the system, and Castro is the last of the big three. I don’t think he’ll slip to #23, but if he does, I imagine the Padres will give him serious consideration.
- Ike Davis, 1B/OF, Arizona State U. (bio | report)
The son of former big-league reliever Ron Davis draws praise for his raw power and defensive abilities at first base. He also may be athletic enough to handle a corner outfield spot, although reports are mixed. Davis strikes me as a very Fuson-esque pick. He’s one of the more palatable “safe” guys in my estimation.
- Ryan Perry, RHP, U. of Arizona (bio | report)
See Cashner. My fear is that the Padres will take one of these two relievers.
- David Cooper, 1B, U. of California (bio | report)
Cooper is sort of a lesser version of Davis. He’s a borderline first-round pick who may end up being taken in the supplemental round instead.
- Reese Havens, SS, U. of South Carolina (bio | report)
Consistent at bat and in the field, Havens has good pop for a middle infielder and draws praise for his makeup. As with Cooper, #23 might be a shade early for Havens. However, shortstop is a premium position so reaching for him isn’t out of the question. Havens also aligns well with the Padres’ preference for polished college guys.
Of these guys, I’d be happiest with Castro, Weeks, Davis, or Havens — roughly in that order. I don’t think Castro makes it to #23, and I’ve not heard anyone associate the Padres with Weeks. I’m bracing myself for one of the relievers, but I hope they don’t go that route.
What do the experts say? Plenty:
- Baseball America (Jim Callis), May 16, 2008: Ike Davis, 1B/OF, Arizona State U.. Yep. This is someone I imagine the Padres are seriously targeting. Assuming he’s available, Davis is a reasonable guess. The way Callis’ draft unfolds, I’d prefer to see the Padres take Weeks or possibly Hewitt, but I could live with Davis.
- MLB.com (Jonathan Mayo), May 28, 2008: Daniel Schlereth, LHP, U. of Arizona. This would be an overdraft and a mistake. Schlereth is a college reliever with a rocket arm, but… did I mention he’s a college reliever? Not really my thing. The way Mayo’s draft unfolds, I’d like Ethan Martin or Weeks, but I don’t see Martin slipping that far. Mayo is maintaining a blog as well, and his final projection (June 5) has the Padres taking Shooter Hunt (see Baseball Prospectus draft below). I’d be happy with Hunt.
- Minor League Ball (John Sickels and friends), May 31, 2008: Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Highland (Ill.) HS. Uh, no. The Padres haven’t taken a high school pitcher in the first round since 2000 (Mark Phillips). Of those 54 first and supplemental first round picks we mentioned earlier, a total of eight have been spent on high school pitchers. Only two ended up making a positive contribution at the big-league level: Andy Hawkins (1978) and Jimmy Jones (1982). Towers notes that “There are two high school arms we like a lot who are projected to go probably in the top 10 choices — if they slid to us, we’d take either of them.” I’m not sure who he has in mind, but I don’t think either of them is Odorizzi.
- Sickels also gives his own personal take and has the Padres tabbing Ryan Perry, which makes a lot more sense. In his scenario, I’d take Collier, Weeks, or Davis ahead of Perry.
- Baseball Prospectus (Kevin Goldstein), June 4, 2008: Shooter Hunt, RHP, Tulane. Hey look, a college pitcher with some upside. I hadn’t been targeting him, but Hunt would be a nice pick. Goldstein also mentions Havens, which seems reasonable, and Hewitt, which doesn’t. Quoth Goldstein: “That kind of player seems like the anti-definition of a Grady Fuson selection.” Yes, to say the very least. This could be a fascinating development if true.
- SaberScouting: 1-15 | 16-30 (Frankie Piliere and Kiley McDaniel), June 5, 2008: Lance Lynn, RHP, U. of Mississippi (Frankie), Havens (Kiley). Lynn? Yuck, that’s worse than Schlereth. They have the Phillies taking Hewitt or Aaron Hicks with the next pick. If Hicks somehow slips that far and the Padres don’t take him at #23, I’ll scream louder than I did when they passed on Michael Main last year. But Hicks seems to be a top 15 pick from what I can tell. I wonder if Hicks is one of the high school arms Towers alluded to the other day? Still, I don’t see him being available here.
- MadFriars (Ramiro Olivas Jr.). This is for the Padres only. They’ve got Texas outfielder Jordan Danks at #46. Danks strikes me as the type of player Fuson and company might covet, although this is perhaps too early. Junior college shortstop Tyler Ladendorf at #69 is a great idea, but I don’t see him lasting that long. My guess is if the Padres want him, they’ll need to pop him at #42 or maybe #46.
- Baseball Blogger Mock Draft (various, including yours truly), May 29 – June 1, 2008. I went with Cashner because that’s who I think the Padres would have taken at that point. Left to my own devices, I would have picked Collier or possibly Hewitt. We also did the supplemental first round, and I took Ladendorf at #42 and Oklahoma State shortstop Jordy Mercer at #46. Looks like Sickels also had us popping Ladendorf at #42. I think that pick just makes way too much sense. With luck, he’ll be there and the Padres like him as much as I do.
The Mercer pick is a reach. He’s a two-way player, and there were safer guys available — right-handers Zach Putnam and Bryan Price immediately leap to mind, but neither of them excited me much so I gambled. The players I was targeting with that pick — Wake Forest first baseman Allan Dykstra and Miami outfielder Dennis Raben — both went earlier than I’d expected and I kind of panicked, which is really stupid when you’ve got that much time to make your pick, but there it is.
My Wish List
This is nuts, but what the heck:
46. Dykstra or Raben
69. Adrian Nieto, C, American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.
Peter Friberg’s Wish List
Peter, our resident draft maven and all-around good guy, actually inspired me to create my wish list with one of his own:
23. Scheppers, Hewitt, or Collier
42. Hewitt or Mike Montgomery
69. Nick Maronde or Aaron Weatherford
I would love to see the Pads take Hewitt or Collier with their first pick, but both strike me as a bit too risky for the current regime’s tastes. Maronde is a high-school left-hander who sounds intriguing. I took him at #69 in the BBMD — Nieto was my target, but he got scooped up 12 picks ahead of me.
Well, we watch and we wait. And then we wait and we watch. And when that’s all done…
Meanwhile, there are places to follow this stuff. Here are a few:
Also, Eric SanInocencio and I will be blogging the draft over at Baseball Digest Daily. And I’m hoping to have at least a brief recap of the Padres draft up on Friday.
More coffee, please…