With their first pick of the day, the Padres selected righty Jacob Nix (pictured above), who gained attention last year when he was a fifth-round pick by the Astros out of high school in Los Alamitos. When Houston’s deal with Brady Aiken blew up at the end of the signing period, they pulled their agreed-to deal with Nix back off the table as well. That left the now-19-year-old on the outside looking in.
Padres scouting director Mark Conner said that the saga that led Nix to wind up at the IMG Academy in Florida this spring didn’t factor into the club’s decision-making about him.
“Honestly, the situation last year, I hadn’t even thought about it. I look at it as, there’s a good-looking right-handed pitcher that our scouts did a really good job on getting to know,” said Conner. “An opportunity to get him in the organization - not only as a person, as a talent - in that round, we’re excited about it.”
Nix was one of four pitchers taken on the day. The club also tabbed Taylor Guerrero, a massive righty out of junior college in Florida, and Trevor Megill, who missed all of 2014 after Tommy John surgery, but came back for Loyola Marymount University this spring.
“We’re very optimistic for [Megill’s] future,” said Conner. “He’s a big kid with a big arm. Near the end of the year, he was throwing the ball extremely well.”
Megill joins Nix as a re-draft from 2014, as the Cardinals took him in the third round while he was rehabbing from surgery. He has big velocity, with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s.
The club’s last pitcher taken was mammoth lefty Jerry Keel, a senior out of Cal State – Northridge. When he arrived on campus, he was listed at 280 pounds, though he has shed 40 pounds as he’s gotten into a training program. Despite his size, Keel has been more of a feel pitcher than a power arm, but has been a reliable starter for four years.
On the position side, the Padres took catcher Austin Allen in the fourth round. A left-handed hitter, the 21-year-old’s power is his calling card. With a big body already, there are questions whether he’ll be able to remain behind the plate.
“We believe he can [remain a catcher],” said Conner. “It’s definitely going to take some work on his part. He does have the skillset to stay back there if he does work at it.”
The club’s remaining picks on day two were all listed as center fielders, though each has some flexibility.
Fifth-rounder Josh Magee is an athletic high-schooler from Louisiana who was also an all-state defensive back. With a February birthday, the 18-year-old is the youngest player the club has taken so far.
Aldemar Burgos is only three weeks older, and is just starting to grow into his body. A product of the highly-regarded Carlos Beltran Academy in Puerto Rico, Burgos could profile for a move to right field if he adds size.
The Padres final pick on Tuesday was Lehigh University’s Justin Pacchioli, who was among the top performers in the Patriot League. He gained attention last summer with a strong showing in the Texas Collegiate Baseball League. He will almost certainly be among the first players to sign at the end of this week.
The team should have no significant signability issues with this group, and may have left themselves enough space to work with to be aggressive with at least one early pick on Wednesday.
We’ll have information on Day Three, and further commentary from Mark Conner and others throughout the week.