Padres 2008 Draft Recap

A mistake is not something to be determined after the fact, but in light of the information until that point.

–Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Here’s the irritating truth about evaluating a draft: We won’t know for years how the story ends, and even when that happens, judging the draft solely on actual outcome (to the exclusion of the process that led to it) gives an incomplete picture. At the same time, process is much more difficult to observe and understand, and oh by the way, people with a vested interest tend to be more concerned with outcome anyway.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m glad it’s not my job to stock a big-league organization with talent. I would drive myself (and others) mad trying to do it to the best of my ability while also hoping to appease a large and vocal group of people whose job isn’t to understand or even care about such things.

That out of the way, let me preface what follows by making explicit an unstated assumption in much of my work: I am not a professional evaluator of baseball talent. My strength, if it may be called that, is aggregating and analyzing data culled from sources I consider reliable. When discussing the draft, I formulate my thoughts and opinions based on data provided to me by subject matter experts. If you’ve been reading my stuff for any appreciable amount of time, you already know this, but sometimes it’s good to remind folks just the same.

To my thoughts, whatever those may be worth: First off, my general impression of the first round is that more of a premium was placed on college closers than I’d expected. Some of the guys we were guessing the Padres might have interest in — Andrew Cashner (#19), Josh Fields (#20), and Ryan Perry (#21) — all went right in a row just ahead of their first pick. Another reliever who at least one person had associated with the Padres, left-hander Daniel Schlereth, went to Arizona at #26. Schlereth is a guy I’d considered to be a serious reach at #23, but I also respect the heck out of the Diamondbacks’ scouting and player development people, so I’m not sure what to do with that.

One ramification of the early run on college closers was that several “toolsy” type players remained available at #23, perhaps most intriguingly high school outfielder Zach Collier. I’m on record as saying that’s who I’d have taken with the pick. I’m also on record as having no vote in the matter and no budget with which to sign any of these guys. In other words, it’s easy for me to make the call because, frankly, there’s nothing at stake. My reputation? Well, maybe, but I stake that more on asking the right questions than on providing the right answers.

Anyway, what I would have done with my imaginary pick and imaginary signing money doesn’t matter. Let’s look at what actually happened:

#23: Allan Dykstra, 1B, Wake Forest U., 6’5″, 240 lbs, B-L, T-R, BA #38 (bio | 2008 stats | older stats | report | DePo)

No, he’s not related to Lenny (although his son was drafted, which made things a bit confusing). What do we know about Dykstra? Well, he went to Rancho Bernardo High School. He played with Matt Antonelli at Wake Forest. He’s really friggin’ huge, and he’s got the power to go with it.

Some folks may be puzzled that the Padres would take a first baseman with their first pick when the team’s best player, Adrian Gonzalez, plays the same position, but that shouldn’t enter into the equation. If Dykstra was the top guy on their board still available at #23, then they had to take him. Worry about logistics later. Conditions change.

Not that I’m expecting such an outcome, but limiting one’s vision to a world in which nothing bad ever happens to Gonzalez is a good way to be caught unprepared in the event that it does. Jim Edmonds taught us that lesson, remember?

I may not agree with the direction the Padres chose to go here, but many experts (at least the ones without proprietary constraints in place to keep them from tipping their hand to competitors) had Dykstra falling within the next 10-15 picks. Padres staffer Chris Long has indicated that Arizona would have taken him at #26, and I’ve already expressed my admiration for the way the Snakes do business (it’s also worth noting that I’m not alone in this assessment).

People and organizations evaluate players differently, of course, and I’m sure the Padres had their own opinion of Dykstra and the other available options based on criteria that we cannot know (because of that whole proprietary thing). I like adding Dykstra’s power bat to the organization, but I’m sorry that it came at the expense of a guy like Collier. Here’s hoping everyone involved makes me look like a raving idiot for clinging to the promise of Collier’s tools.

#42: Jaff Decker, CF, Sunrise Mountain HS (Peoria, Ariz.), 5’10″, 190 lbs, B-L, T-L, BA #62 (report | video | DePo)

Yes, his first name is “Jaff.” He draws comparisons to Matt Stairs because of his build and, more importantly, ability to hit baseballs (watching the video, I’m reminded somewhat of ex-Padre Phil Plantier, another smallish left-handed batter with tremendous torque in his swing). Decker also possesses a strong arm and it’s believed that some teams were looking at him more as a pitcher. I have two reactions to this pick:

  • I’m surprised to see the Padres jump on a high school kid this early (although if he’s from Peoria, presumably they’ve seen him a lot). The organization has leaned heavily toward college players in the recent past, but the Pads really outdid themselves in 2008. Decker was one of only six high school players they drafted this year (that’s 13% of their 46 picks if you’re scoring at home).
  • I’m intrigued that they apparently weren’t scared off by his height. You’ll notice this theme further down, as 4 of the first 11 players the Padres selected are shorter than 6’0″. Perhaps they’ve identified a market inefficiency of some sort? Or maybe I’m just looking for things that aren’t there. It wouldn’t be the first time…

* * *
We now join the “minimal commentary” portion of our program, already in progress…

#46: John (Logan) Forsythe, 3B, U. of Arkansas, 6’1″, 208 lbs, B-R, T-R, BA #76 (bio | 2008 stats | older stats | DePo)

Forsythe controls the strike zone, has doubles power that may translate into home-run power, and draws praise for his makeup.

#69: James Darnell, 3B, U. of South Carolina, 6’2″, 195 lbs, B-R, T-R, BA #58 (bio | 2008 stats | older stats | report | DePo)

Darnell is a contact hitter with line-drive power. He may shift to the outfield.

#101: Blake Tekotte, CF, U. of Miami, 5’11″, 185 lbs, B-L, T-R, BA #85 (bio | 2008 stats | older stats | article | DePo)

Tekotte is reportedly a true center fielder with leadoff skills. Assuming reports are accurate, I really like this pick.

#111: Swain (Sawyer) Carroll, RF, U. of Kentucky, 6’4″, 215 lbs, B-L, T-R (bio | 2008 stats | older stats | report | DePo)

Carroll is a gaps-type hitter who is seen by some more as a left fielder. Not everyone is convinced he’ll develop enough power for a corner spot.

#135: Jason Kipnis, CF, Arizona State U., 5’10″, 175 lbs, B-L, T-R (bio | 2008 stats | older stats | report | DePo)

Kipnis is a good hitter with some power. He may not have enough range to remain in center.

#165: Anthony Bass, RHP, Wayne State U., 6’2″, 190 lbs, B-R, T-R (bio | 2008 stats | DePo)

Bass features a fastball that runs around 92 mph and draws praise for his command.

#195: Stephen (Cole) Figueroa, SS, U. of Florida, 5’10″, 180 lbs, B-L, T-R (bio | 2008 stats | DePo)

Cole is the son of former big-league infielder Bien Figueroa. At least one person has compared him to Russ Adams.

* * *
Paul DePodesta has rounds 7-11 lumped together:

#225: Adam Zornes, C, Rice U., 6’1″, 215 lbs, B-R, T-R (bio | 2008 stats | older stats | video)

#255: William (Beamer) Weems, SS, Baylor U., 5’10″, 175 lbs, B-S, T-R (bio | 2008 stats | older stats)

#285: Kyle Thebeau, RHP, Texas A&M U., 6’0″, 190 lbs, B-R, T-R, BA #168 (bio |2008 stats | older stats)

#315: Andrew Albers, LHP, U. of Kentucky, 6’1″, 195 lbs, B-L, T-L (bio | 2008 stats | older stats)

#345: Tyson Bagley, RHP, Dallas Baptist U., 6’8″, 250 lbs, B-R, T-R (2008 stats | older stats | article)

* * *
DePo has rounds 12-15 lumped together:

#375: Matthew Clark, 1B, Louisiana State U., 6’5″, 215 lbs, B-L, T-R (bio | 2008 stats)

#405: Erik Davis, RHP, Stanford U., 6’4″, 200 lbs, B-R, T-R (bio | 2008 stats | older stats)

Davis was hit in the face by a line drive in 2006 but has come back strong.

#435: Robert Musgrave, LHP, Wichita State U., 6’1″, 205 lbs, B-L, T-L (bio | 2008 stats | older stats)

#465: Brett Mooneyham, LHP, Buhach Colony HS (Atwater, Calif.), 6’5″, 215 lbs, B-L , T-L, BA #78 (report)

Brett is the son of former big-league pitcher Bill Mooneyham. According to Baseball America, some clubs tabbed him as “the top prep lefthander on the board.” BA also notes that “he was considered one of the least signable players in the West, if not the country.” For those of you clamoring for upside, here it is. Anyone want to get a bake sale going?

* * *
Finally, DePo throws everyone from round 16 to the end in one big pile (not literally, of course; that would hurt). To say I know nothing about these guys would be to give me too much credit:

#495: Thomas Davis, RHP, Fordham U., 6’2″, 215 lbs, B-R, T-R

#525: Derek Shunk, SS, Villanova U., 6’2″, 215 lbs, B-R, T-R

#555: Nick Vincent, RHP, Cal State Long Beach U., 6’0″, 175 lbs, B-R, T-R

Vincent attended Ramona High School.

#585: Robert Lara, C, U. of Central Florida, 6’2″, 205 lbs, B-R, T-R

#615: Jason Codiroli, CF, West Valley Coll., 5’10″, 175 lbs, B-L, T-L

Jason is the nephew of former big-league pitcher Chris Codiroli.

#645: Joseph Railey, 2B, U. of San Francisco, 5’7″, 180 lbs, B-L, T-R

#675: Chris Wilkes, RHP, Dr. Phillips HS (Orlando, Fla.), 6’4″, 235 lbs, B-R, T-R

Wilkes is also committed to play quarterback at Ole Miss.

#705: Nick Conaway, RHP, Walnut Grove, N.C., 6’0″, 200 lbs, B-R, T-R

#735: Eric Gonzalez, RHP, U. of South Alabama, 6’4″, 200 lbs, B-R, T-R

Gonzalez was born in Spain.

#765: Logan Power, CF, U. of Mississippi, 6’0″, 195 lbs, B-R, T-R

#795: Dean Anna, SS, Ball State U., 5’11″, 180 lbs, B-L, T-R

#825: Aaron Murphree, RF, U. of Arkansas, 6’5″, 235 lbs, B-R, T-L

#855: Nick Schumacher, RHP, Wayne State Coll., 6’4″, 210 lbs, B-R, T-R

#885: Omar Gutierrez, RHP, Texas A&M U., 6’1″, 215 lbs, B-R, T-R

#915: Robert Verbick, OF, Sam Houston State U., 5’11″, 205 lbs, B-R, T-R

#945: Sean Gilmartin, OF, Crespi Carmelite HS (Encino, Calif.), 6’2″, 190 lbs, B-L, T-L

#975: Kyle Heyne, RHP, Ball State U., 6’5″, 220 lbs, B-R, T-R

#1005: Dan Robertson, CF, Oregon State U., 5’8″, 175 lbs, B-R, T-R

#1035: Matthew Gaski, 2B, U. of North Carolina Greensboro, 5’10″, 185 lbs, B-L, T-R

#1065: Logan Gelbrich, C, U. of San Diego, 6’3″, 205 lbs, B-R, T-R

Go Toreros!

#1095: Jake Shadle, RHP, Graham Kapowsin HS (Graham, Wash.), 6’2″, 175 lbs, B-R, T-R

#1125: Matthew Means, LHP, Sonoma State U., 6’1″, 210 lbs, B-L, T-L

#1155: Zachary Herr, LHP, U. of Nebraska, 5’9″, 185 lbs, B-L, T-L

#1185: Gary Poynter, RHP, Lubbock Christian U., 6’3″, 225 lbs, B-R, T-R

#1215: Colin Lynch, RHP, St. Johns U., 5’10″, 185 lbs, B-R, T-R

#1245: Zachary Dascenzo, C, Laurel Highlands HS (Uniontown, Penn.), 6’0″, 190 lbs, B-R, T-R

Zach is the son of former big-league outfielder (and current Fort Wayne Wizards manager) Doug Dascenzo.

#1275: Brad Brach, RHP, Monmouth U., 6’4″, 210 lbs, B-R, T-R

#1305: James Tunnell, RF, Oklahoma City, 6’3″, 175 lbs, B-R, T-R

James is the son of former big-league pitcher Lee Tunnell.

* * *
Full breakdown by position:

RHP: 16
LHP: 5
C: 4
INF: 10
OF: 11

You can see a listing of all the Padres picks (many with videos) at MLB.com. Also, be sure to visit Paul DePodesta’s blog for a closer look at how the organization views these guys. I’m looking in from the outside and trying to make sense of all this stuff based on what I know. DePodesta’s actually in there doing it, along with many other folks whose knowledge makes me look very puny, indeed. It’s awesome that the Padres are giving us this kind of access to their thought process, and I’m not just saying that to suck up to anyone — although I’m certainly not above such tactics. ;-)

Whew. Okay, I think we’re done here.

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32 Responses »

  1. Thanks for the breakdown, GY. I’m actually quite encouraged by the guys we drafted, but what remains to be seen is who we are able to sign. If we can sign Mooneyham, it will be a total coup.

  2. Thanks for the recap Geoff. It seems like a departure from SA’s norm of pitching heavy drafts, but it just did not seem to have the depth this year…

    On another topic, SI has a story about the “Best Player Nobody is Watching”…can you guess who it is?

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/gennaro_filice/06/06/threeup.threedown/index.html

  3. Hmmm the Brewers are benching Cameron…

    http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=759874&format=print

    Maybe letting him go was not that worst thing in the world.

  4. #3@Steve C: Great find. Seems that Cameron is going the way of Edmonds (with better defense, though).

  5. I suppose the draft makes some sense including Dykstra but I can’t get over the fact we are still kind of heavy in the high minors on 1Bs. And I don’t see him moving to RF, so who knows what’ll happen.

    I do like Forsythe and Tekotte

  6. #3@Steve C:

    Those are some bad numbers. He should have just said that he’s been s***ing.

  7. Thanks for the draft breakdown Geoff. Excellent work.

  8. In 2006, Mike Cameron in April/May: .639 OPS (161 PA).
    Last year, Mike Cameron in April: .508 OPS (116 PA).
    This year, Mike Cameron: .705 OPS (131 PA).

    I think he’s just a slow starter.

  9. You may recall before the draft Towers mentioned they were interested in two high school pitchers projected to go in the top 10. Turns out those were Ethan Martin and Aaron Hicks, and the Padres were going to take either one if they had somehow slid to them. So they haven’t ruled out drafting high schoolers in the first round on principle.

    http://www3.signonsandiego.com/news/2008/jun/06/edgar-gonzalez-stansberry-take-iguchis-place-time-/

  10. Re. Forsyth: I exchanged post-draft texts w/ Kevin Goldstein and he opined that Forsyth might be one of the biggest sleepers in the draft. A lot of teams were on Forsyth to move him behind the plate. Apparently he’s a serious athlete who hit over .400 (in the SEC!) after recovering from his foot injury.

  11. OT … I’m guessing that the Padres were not aware that Prior had accepted this offer when the signed him last off-season …

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/50033

    ;-)

  12. OT again: For all you Livan fans out there. He pitches for my AL team; he has a 1.61 WHIP, 5 something ERA and 2.89 K/9 IP, but he eats innings! If only Adam E. was playing short, maybe his ERA would be an even 5.

  13. #9@Ben B.: Although some will dismiss it as a conspiracy theory, we should be at least a little skeptical that the Padres would have picked either of those kids. It’s a lot easier to say you want someone than to do it, knowing they’ll command a premium price tag. It was a slim chance either of them would make it to 23. Would have been great, though.

    As GY says, it’s very difficult to rate a draft even in the same year it happened, let alone within days. But going off the general consensus of publicly available experts, I expect the Padres to get a low B / high C grade if they sign the players they’ve typically signed in the past. Mooneyham might not bump that a full letter grade, but it would be close. Some of the interesting picks (Decker, Figueroa, Conaway, etc.) aren’t sexy enough to push the grade much if they sign. That doesn’t mean they can’t be good, even great, players.

  14. #10@Peter Friberg: Forsythe and Darnell are my two favorites, with Decker and Tekotte are the next tier.

    #11@LynchMob: Ouch. It was a good gamble, but being on the Onion’s radar rarely bodes well for a player. Does anyone think he gets a major league deal next year, or does he have to settle for a minor league contract / NRI?

    #13@Tom Waits: That filtered word was a synonym for “hot.”

  15. Thanks for the link to the “report” on Moonyham … he’s got a commitment to go to Stanford … it will be interesting to see if Stanford’s recent success )in winning the Regional and Super Regional to advance to CWS … and how they fare at Omaha) will impact his commitment (ie. it’s my understanding that Stanford is over-achieving right now on the strength of some younger players who will be around to make another run or 2 over the next couple of seasons).

    Also, the symbolism of taking a HS pitcher who has a strong commitment to college in the 15th round should not be lost on anybody … see Peavy, Jake …

  16. #11@LynchMob:
    That just had me laughing out loud at work. People are looking at me strange. Oh no :o

  17. #14@Tom Waits: re: Prior signing = good gamble … 100% agree … and I hope it puts the Padres at the front of the line for a 2009 contract … it still seems like it will be a good gamble again …

  18. #16@Didi: That onion article is so unrealistic … when was the last time the Padres were in a 3-1 game???

  19. I have to disagree a little with GY’s analysis on Decker, it didn’t seem that big a surprise the Padres would go with a high school player that early. In the past two years the Padres have been slightly more agressive in selecting high school players with their first five picks.

    2006: Kyler Burke (2) and Cedric Hunter (5)
    2007: Drew Cumberland (3)
    2008: Jaff Decker (2)

    The bigger question which all of us have asked, especially TW – is would they pull the trigger on a high school guy in the first round.

  20. D-Backs lose! Pads are now just 6.5 back!

  21. #13@Tom Waits: I think that word that is censored might be taking things a little too far. I can understand certain 4 letter words, but I doubt anyone would conider sexy obscene.

  22. #22@Zagz: Also I know you didn’t censor it Tom, I think the auto censor is a little too tight.

    Anyone else heading to NY to see the Padres at Yankee Stadium BTW?

  23. Great breakdown, Geoff …

  24. #23@Zagz: I’m actually catching a flight Tuesday evening to catch Wednesday’s and Thursday’s games. Depending on how the rotation shakes out with Jake’s return and the Hall of Fame Game next week, I’m hoping that Peavy pitches in one of the two.

  25. Haha I love fielding metrics…

    I’m actually a fan of P-Mac, but how in the world did he come up as the best defensive LF in baseball based on UZR? Also, Brian Giles is #2 in RF. I wonder how much the thick air at Petco and Chris Young’s ability to draw easy fly outs helps each of their zone ratings.

    Ha and none other than Jim Edmonds is the worst rated CF

    http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/how_well_can_we_project_team_defense_and_other_uzr_data/

  26. #25@Bryan: I read yesterday in the UT that if all goes well Peavy will start against Kuroda on Thursday afternoon.

  27. #27@Bryan S: That’s what Towers said on the radio.

  28. OT … http://tinyurl.com/55x9gh

    Indians call up infielder Josh Barfield

  29. All I have to say is that was an epic disection of the draft. Great job!

  30. The Braves purchased Brian Lawrence’s contract from the Camden Riversharks (IND) and assigned him to AAA.

    Check the Camden Riversharks home page for details.