The common mantra is you have to wait at least four years to have an idea of how a player performed. How were the tools and performances they put together as preps or collegians that got them drafted able to translate into the pro game?
We took a look back at the 2009 through 2011 drafts so you can judge for yourself.
Number One Pick: CF Donavan Tate, number three overall.
Notable Players After Round 10: 1B/OF/3B/C/Auteur Cody Decker (22).
Best Player/Prospect still with the Padres: Needy or Decker
Summary: This was the first year where the Padres, under the stewardship of their new owner Jeff Moorad, attempted to change their drafting philosophy from “pitchability” and a “walk and a dong” mantra of the Sandy Alderson regime, who was removed once Moorad took over, to looking for players with more upside, or ceiling, on the fly. Without the scouts or structure necessary to implement such a drastic change the team’s Vice-President of Scouting and Player Development Grady Fuson and his scouting director Bill “Chief” Gayton struggled and ended up losing their jobs.
Of the first ten players drafted only Tate, Sullivan, Hagerty and Needy are still in the organization with Needy the only one that could still be realistically called a prospect. Tate’s struggles are well-documented but he does deserve credit for coming back this year and attempting to resurrect his career. Sullivan has found success as a reliever, but has yet to catch a break in San Diego’s pen. Hagerty, a switch-hitting catcher out of Miami, had some good years at the lower levels but injuries have taken their toll on him.
Williams and Hinson are out of baseball. Fetter has since retired and is now a scout in the Angel’s organization. Sampson was left off of the 40-man roster and is now with the Reds. Since being selected by the Houston Astros in the Rule V draft and then being claimed on waivers by the A’s, Freiman has toggled between the majors and minor leagues. Mikolas is now pitching in Japan.
Analysis: Poor. When your top pick from six years ago have to yet to play above A-Ball and the second rounder has a career minor league OPS of .666; its a bad draft. Needy could still turn out to be a useful back of the rotation starter in San Diego and if Sullivan is healthy he can be an acceptable bullpen arm. We have written many times that Decker has earned and should have some role on the major league team.
Number One Pick: Karsten Whitson, number nine overall (did not sign).
First Ten Rounds: Whitson, 2B Jedd Gyorko, RHP Zach Cates, 2B Chris Bisson, CF Rico Noel, RHP Johnny Barbato, RHP A.J. Vanegas (did not sign), RF Jose Dore, LHP Josh Spence and LF Huston Slemp.
Notable Players After Round 10: 1B/OF Tommy Medica (14), C Rocky Gale (24).
Best Player/Prospect still with the Padres: Gyorko.
Summary: This was the new regime of General Manager Jed Hoyer and his VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason MacLeod’s first draft. The new group was given a much bigger budget and many more scouts as they tried to install a new development system which emphasized power arms and athleticsm in position players.
The first big misstep was when Whitson didn’t sign and through the years there have been a number of stories on why he didn’t from a variety of viewpoints. Regardless of which side you believe, the facts are that he turned down $2.1 million in 2010 and ended up signing with the Red Sox for $100,000 in 2014 after four years at the University of Florida.
Whitson threw seven innings for the Red Sox short-season affiliate Lowell last season and has yet to throw this year.
Gyorko hit well throughout his entire minor league career and in his rookie season before struggling now and last season. Bisson, Dore, Spence and Slemp are out of baseball. Cates was traded to the Cubs in the Andrew Cashner for Anthony Rizzo deal and has yet to put up any significant numbers. Noel is a backup outfielder in Triple-A El Paso and Johnny Barbato was traded to the Yankees in the of-season and is with their Double-A affiliate.
Gale is one of the better late picks the Padres have had in recent years, particularly with his recent ability to hit for average. Defensively he is nearly as good as Austin Hedges. Medica has had his moments but now seems stuck behind a logjam of right-handed hitters at both the big league and at the Triple-A level.
Analysis: Fair to Poor. Missing out again on one of the top ten overall picks in the draft is never good. Any value this draft will have at all will primarily come from how well Gyorko does going into the future.
Number One Picks: 2B Cory Spangenberg, number 10 overall and RHP Joe Ross, number 25 overall.
First Ten Rounds: Spangenberg, Ross, RHP Michael Kelly, C Brett Austin (did not sign), SS Jace Peterson, C Austin Hedges, RHP Matt Andriese, RHP Cody Hebner, RHP Mark Pope, OF Kyle Gaedele, RHP Matt Wisler, RHP Kevin Quackenbush, RHP Justin Hancock and C Robert Kral.
Notable Players After Round 10: RHP Colin Rea(12), RHP Burch Smith(14) and Matt Stites (17).
Best Player/Prospect still with the Padres: Spangenberg, Hedges and Quackenbush.
Summary: Hoyer and MacLeod were the main reasons why when they left for Chicago ESPN’s Keith Law named the Padres’ as having the best system in the minors and also probably the main driver for the Cub’s rise to prominence with their shrewd trades and solid drafts along with Theo Epstein.
This draft, and the two subsequent drafts, were the ones that allowed current Padres’ General Manager A.J. Preller to make the deals that he did in the off-season.
Spangenberg has been getting the bulk of the playing time this year at second base with the big club and Ross just had his major league debut with the Washington Nationals. Peterson is the regular second baseman with the Atlanta Braves and Hedges is still seen as the Padres’ catcher of the future. Wisler was the top prospect in the organization for 2015 before he was traded to Atlanta and his former roommates Hancock and Rea are two of the better pitchers in the Texas League for San Diego. Andriese was traded to Tampa in the Logan Forsythe deal last year and has been up and down between the major leagues and Triple-A. Quackenbush was a star closer in the minors and has been a solid addition to the big club’s pen. Only Pope is out of baseball, although Hebner is stuck in Extended Spring and could be joining him soon. Kral is the backup catcher for Triple-A El Paso and Gaedele is with High-A Lake Elsinore.
Stites has gone back and forth between Triple-A with the Diamondbacks but also was one of the main components in the Ian Kennedy deal. Burch Smith has talent but was never able to fully put it together in San Diego and is out this season in Tampa with Tommy John surgery.
Analysis: Very good. The only thing missing from this draft is a true star player. Hoyer/MacLeod were able to acquire major league talent at all levels of the draft that either helped the club directly or enabled them to trade for proven major league talent.
If Hedges does turn out to be as many people believe, the grade will move to excellent.