Padres armed with multiple high Draft picks
Seven selections among top 102 picks can boost talented system
SAN DIEGO -- While the jury is still out on recent First-Year Player Draft picks, there's no debating the fact that the Padres have not drafted and developed impact players at the rate many other organizations have.
That's part of the reason why the Padres are 17-35 and in last place in the National League West, though injuries have certainly played a large role in this season of struggle -- not only at the Major League level, but at the Minor League level as well.
Can the Padres find some future impact players when the First-Year Player Draft begins on Monday?
They will surely have a good opportunity to do so, as the Padres hold not only the No. 7 overall selection, but have a bevy of additional Draft choices that could well add even more talent to a highly-regarded farm system that has fast become the talk of baseball.
In addition to the No. 7 overall pick, the Padres possess Nos. 33, 44, 55, 68 and 70.
The Padres received two additional Draft picks (Nos. 33 and 70) after Heath Bell signed with the Marlins, the 44th pick after Aaron Harang signed with the Dodgers and the 55th pick when 2011 draftee Brett Austin didn't sign with the franchise. They then have their second-round pick at No. 68 overall.
With their third-round pick, the Padres actually have seven selections in the first 102 overall Draft picks.
"We certainly want to take advantage of our extra picks," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. "As we've seen this year, we need our farm system to provide depth and impact players for us."
Live coverage of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday, at 3 p.m. PT on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players.
Since 2002, the Padres haven't drafted and developed many "impact" Major League position players and have missed on several occasions with their first-round Draft picks.
There have been exceptions.
Shortstop Khalil Greene was a first-round pick in 2002. Three current Padres -- catcher Nick Hundley (second round), third baseman Chase Headley (second round) and outfielder Will Venable (seventh round) -- were a part of the '05 Draft class. Third baseman David Freese was drafted in the ninth round in '05, but was sent to St. Louis for Jim Edmonds.
In the weeks leading up to the Draft, Padres scouting director Jaron Madison, first-year assistant general manager of player personnel Chad MacDonald and the Padres' cross-checkers have talked continually about players.
"We'll have good conversations from there, and lots of debates and arguments on players. So it will be fun," Madison said. "It's all about getting the best players for the Padres, so we want everyone to have an opinion, to go in and fight about your players and argue your points."
Here's a glance at what the Padres have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
The Padres, for the second time in as many years, have a bevy of early picks and can only hope to cash in as well as they did a year ago. That said, this Draft isn't nearly as strong as last year's. Still, the Padres feel they'll land some quality talent.
"We're sitting good," Madison said.
"We're getting more looks this year than last year. Everyone is crisscrossing and seeing guys from out of their region. The various cross-checkers and scouts are switching regions. It's important to see guys at the beginning, the middle and the end [of their seasons] and get different opinions from everyone." -- Madison
There are some intriguing college pitchers available in this Draft, though the best of them could be gone by the time the Padres pick at No. 7. The latest MLB.com mock Draft has the Padres picking shortstop Carlos Correa from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. But strong pre-Draft workouts might lead to him being picked before No. 7. A college arm (Kyle Zimmer), a prep arm (Max Fried), or a power bat (Richie Shaffer) could be other possibilities.
padres' bonus pool
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The Padres don't necessarily enter this Draft with any "must-haves," though they might keep an eye out for a shortstop as the system is mostly devoid of talent at that position. The Padres have selected a prep pitcher (Karsten Whitson) and a junior college infielder (Cory Spangenberg) with their first picks the last two years. They know they'll get a good pick at No. 7 overall, whether that be a position player or pitcher. But, to be sure, the club will likely add some middle infielders.
This will be the third Draft that Madison has presided over and the first for MacDonald. The Padres continue to look for impact players, athletic guys who are toolsy. The team hasn't been afraid to gamble in the past on players, as they went above slot last June for pitcher Joe Ross and catcher Austin Hedges to get them to break their college commitments to UCLA. One thing is for certain, the club has drafted better since beefing up its scouting department two years ago.
Recent Draft History
Infielder Jedd Gyorko, who was a second-round pick in 2010, has already advanced to Triple-A Tucson -- and he's tackling a new position. A third baseman by trade, Gyorko has been asked to give second base a whirl this season. He's fared well at second base and has a plus-hit tool that has played at every level. Spangenberg, the Padres' first-round pick in 2011, started the season at Class A Lake Elsinore. Spangenberg can run, and his bat has begun to produce more recently.
Padres' recent top picks
|2011||Cory Spangenberg||2B||Class A Lake Elsinore|
|2010||Karsten Whitson||RHP||Did not sign|
|2009||Donavan Tate||OF||Class A Fort Wayne|
|2008||Allan Dykstra||1B||Double-A Binghamton (Mets)|
|2007||Nick Schmidt||LHP||Double-A Tulsa (Rockies)|
This spot is normally reserved for reliever Brad Brach, a 42nd-round Draft pick in 2008. But since Brach is currently on the 25-man roster, how about outfielder Daniel Robertson, who was a 33rd-round Draft pick that same year? Robertson is generously listed at 5-foot-8, but he has hit at every level and is hitting .324 with Triple-A Tucson. Then there's outfielder Cody Decker, a 22nd-round pick in 2009, who hit 14 home runs in his first 42 games with Double-A San Antonio before he was promoted to Tucson.
In The Show
Right-handed pitcher Anthony Bass, who was a fifth-round pick in 2008, is in the starting rotation. Brach, as previously mentioned, also came from that same Draft. Starter Cory Luebke, a compensation round pick in 2007, had season-ending reconstructive left elbow surgery in May and will miss the rest of the season. Here's one: Griffin Benedict, the Padres' 16th-round pick in 2009, is in the big leagues, but as a bullpen catcher after forgoing his playing career after one season.