Padres' draft success and failures: 2001-2004

In baseball, rarely are the returns immediate. In fact, it likely takes three years or more before you can determine the success or failure of a particular draft year. With the 2006 MLB Draft in the books, takes a look at how the Padres have fared in the draft from 2001 through 2004.

2004 Draft

Top Three Picks: Matt Bush, Billy Killian and Daryl Jones
Best Prospects: Daryl Jones (3rd round), Sean Kazmar (5), Mike Ekstrom (12), and Kyle Blanks (42).

Breakdown: This was a bad draft any way you look at it, especially when the Padres had the number one overall pick in the draft. When word got out that the Padres were looking at several college pitchers, local high school phenom Matt Bush called the team and talked his way into being the guy. While he may turn out to be a big-leaguer eventually, so far he hasn't shown anything offensively and has been inconsistent in the field. With no second-round pick, the Padres took high school catcher Billy Killian in the third round, but he was unable to put up any numbers above the Arizona League and was included in the Chris Young trade with the Rangers. Daryl Jones was just 17 when the Padres tabbed him out of Crenshaw High in Los Angeles. After a decent debut in Peoria in 2004, he had a disastrous year in 2005 for Eugene, hitting.188 and committing 16 errors in 71 games, but appears to have rebounded in Fort Wayne this year after correcting a vision problem from and recovering from a bum elbow last year. With lightning-quick wrists, Jones has the potential for continued big power numbers if he keeps his swing in check.

Kazmar, a second baseman with gap power, and big slugger Blanks have the most upside out of the draft, but are still several years away from getting a look at the big club. Ekstrom has been impressive at every level so far, but because he relies on command more than stuff, will have to impress at each level to advance.

Right now Blanks, Jones, Kazmar and Ekstrom are the only thing saving this draft from total failure, though Jon Ellis, Matt Varner and Ben Krosschell all still have potential on the mound.

Grade: D

2003 Draft

Top Three Picks: Tim Stauffer, Daniel Moore and Colt Morton
Best Prospects: Morton and Leo Rosales (20).

Breakdown: This is actually a worse draft than 2004. Tim Stauffer, the third overall pick in the draft, is still very much a question mark. After he was drafted, he discovered damage to his shoulder. Although he has put up impressive numbers in the minors, he struggled in his big-league debut and has not yet shown the same fastball he had before the injury or since he has been demoted from the major leagues.

Moore, a big left-hander from North Carolina State, has never been healthy for the Padres and has a career ERA of 6.19 after receiving a signing bonus of $800,000. He was cut in spring training this year. Morton, after parts of three seasons in Low-A ball, finally showed some of his immense potential with a breakout year in 2005 at Lake Elsinore.

"Lights Out" Leo Rosales, a closer with a plus change-up, has the make-up and ability to be a major-league reliever. Amazingly, only seven members of the class remain in the Padres' system today.

Grade: F

2002 Draft

Top Three Picks: Khalil Greene, Michael Johnson and Kennard Jones
Best Prospects: Greene, George Kottaras (20), Paul McAnulty (12), Sean Thompson (5), Jared Wells (31), Johnson, Jones and Drew Macias (35)

Breakdown: Without a doubt, this was the best Padres' draft in recent years, both in the ability to get quality prospects at the top and to find value in the later rounds. Khalil Greene has already established himself and Michael Johnson may be one healthy season away from making a roster push in 2007. Kennard Jones has had an up and down career, but he has all the tools to move into the top prospect category once again next year. The Padres gambled taking Kottaras in the 20th round and paid well above his draft slot to sign him, but it paid off as he has emerged as one of the better catching prospects in the upper minors. Wells and Thompson may be the second- and third-best pitchers in the system right now, and McAnulty is the best pure hitter. Macias has been a nice surprise who seems to be breaking out in Mobile this year after bulking up in the winter.

Grade: B+

2001 Draft

Top Three Picks: Jake Gautreau, Matt Harrington and Tagg Bozied
Best Prospects: Josh Barfield (4)

Breakdown: Jake Gautreau started off well until colitis sidelined him in mid-2002. Jake was able to come back, but has never been able to sustain a consistent performance throughout a season and could not handle a shift to second base from third. The Padres swapped him for fellow first-rounder Corey Smith last spring, whom they have since released.

Harrington is the poster child against holding out after a draft. Drafted progressively lower for five straight years, he has never signed and has only three mediocre years in the independent leagues to show for his once highly-regarded talent.

Both Bozied and Sain had their successes within the Padres organization but, both were let go during spring training due to their limitations defensively. Bozied has the higher ceiling, but never recovered from his ill-fated home run celebration in 2004 that left him with a bum knee. Sain was traded and Bozied and his $750,000 bonus was released.

Barfield has been, by far, the best prospect of the draft and is among the top offensive talents the Padres have produced in a decade. The other interesting products of that draft, pitchers David Pauley (8), spending time with the big league club in Boston, and Rusty Tucker (21), pitching at Triple-A for White Sox, while shortstop Jason Bartlett (13) is fighting for another shot at the starting job with the Minnesota Twins.

Grade - C

David Jay contributed to this story.

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