Stanford Athletics

J.J. Cooper of BA on the Padres' Draft

J.J. Cooper has worked for Baseball America for over 10 years. He follows high school, college and is one of their draft gurus. J.J. talked to MadFriars about the Padres draft and talked about a few of the other top players that were selected in the draft.

MadFriars: What we your overall impressions of what the Padres did in the draft?

J.J. Cooper: I liked it after the second day. I was puzzled after the first day. I wasn’t surprised that they drafted Cal Quantrill but I was surprised that San Diego went over slot to sign him. He was a guy that could have been the number one pick but he also hasn’t thrown in a year-and-a-half. 

I really liked the Mason Thompson pick in the third round. Before his injury, he was the ace of the Team USA pitching staff. He would have been up with the top high school arms like Riley Pint and Braxton Garrett. He’s ready to pitch now and is a guy who has a chance to be quite good. 

On the surface, the Hudson Sanchez (nee Potts) pick seemed to be a bit of a reach. After the second day, do you think the Padres took him in that spot because they knew they could sign him for the allotted slot value of the 24th pick?

J.J. Cooper: I almost wonder if it was a backup plan. They had been linked to shortstop Delvin Perez and he went to St. Louis at #23, right before San Diego picked. They liked Hudson Sanchez so they took him there. While there were some questions if he was worthy of a pick, he is a legitimate prospect. He may not stick at short but he can likely play third and could end up in a corner outfield position as a worst-case scenario. They believe he is developing and he could end up having above-average power. 

What can you tell us about Comp B pick Reggie Lawson and do you think he will come to terms with San Diego?

J.J. Cooper: I’d be stunned if he didn’t. He does have a commitment to Arizona State but 98% of picks drafted in the first ten rounds have signed during the current CBA. Lawson has a chance to have plus stuff but he wasn’t very good this spring. He has had some success with USA baseball and has a lot of upside. He can touch 94 mph with his fastball and his breaking stuff has a chance to be above average. 

LHP Eric Lauer seemed like another safe pick. Is he a back-end starter at best?

J.J. Cooper: I think he is better than a back-end starter. He wasn’t a guy that popped out at you but he took a big step forward this spring. I think the 25th pick was a perfect spot for him. If he didn’t go to the Padres there, he wouldn’t have lasted much longer. He has four pitches that can be at least average. His slider should be above average. I think he is a #4 starter, at worst. 

What other Padres selections stood out to you?

J.J. Cooper: I liked outfielder Buddy Reed in the second round. There are some questions about him but he was a great value pick. He is a premium athlete that can stick in center. The biggest question around him is the hit tool but he was a great pick there. Second baseman Boomer White in the 10th round is one of the best pure hitters in the country but I’d be stunned if he signed. He was willing to sit out a year to play at Texas A&M so I doubt he’d forgo his senior season. You have to wonder how much leverage he has since he’d be a 24-year-old college senior next season.

Later in the draft, high school outfielder Trevyne Carter should be a guy they can sign. He has premium athleticism and quick hands. He is raw but he is a tremendous athlete. Left-handed pitcher Jared Poche was a good pick in the 14th round. He was the key part of LSU’s weekend rotation, although his velocity is below-average. The Padres will be betting on his track record. Outfielder Hunter Bishop in the 24th round will be a very hard sign but he was a great, late-round pick. He has a firm commitment but he is another premium athlete with plus-plus speed and he also has some power potential. 

This draft was considered to be deep but there wasn’t a consensus top player. Do you think that Mickey Moniak is the best player in the draft?

J.J. Cooper: He certainly fits in the discussion. I really liked pitcher Riley Pint -- he might have been the top guy for me. He has a chance to be a dominant, front-of-the-line type of pitcher with his stuff. Monica does all of the things you want and played against pretty good competition in the San Diego area. A.J. Puk was in the discussion but he was also the third best starter on the Florida staff and had a few rough outings down the stretch. Moniak does have a chance to be the best player in this draft. 

Was Cal Quantrill a reach at #8 overall? 

J.J. Cooper: No, I think they would have preferred to get him later but they knew he’d be gone by the time pick #24 rolled around. San Diego has been linked to him for a long time and San Diego was one of the few teams that actually got to see him throw. He also had private workouts with the Padres so they really did their homework on him. The biggest surprise is that they gave him $4 million. That amount seems high but not outlandish. If he pitched all year he likely goes higher. They seemed comfortable with his progress from the Tommy John surgery so they grabbed him. 

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