Gayton, Fuson, Towers talk Padres draft

With 12 picks over the first five rounds, the trio of Chief Gayton, Grady Fuson, and Kevin Towers were happy with their first day haul. Ten of the picks came from the college ranks, headlined by first rounder Nick Schmidt. They were happy with each of their selections and are eager to see what day two holds – with an eye on taking a few risks.

"I think our fans will be very happy with the young men we took this year," said general manager Kevin Towers.

"This was very unique because of the number of picks we had," vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson added. "I think out of our top 60, 18 of those guys were targeted and we got seven of our targeted guys."

"It made it difficult to figure out who might be there and all the other scenarios," scouting director Chief Gayton said. "We wanted to compliment what we were able to achieve the last couple years."

The Padres spent the last week setting up their draft board and finalized it late on Wednesday night when Gayton, Fuson, and the rest of the staff went home. The clock had just struck two and they had a scheduled breakfast for seven – a mere five hours away and that doesn't include the time it takes to drive home.

Fuson admitted that he did not even bother to go to sleep. He was anxious. This was a chance to reshape the franchise in a positive light.

This is the third year Gayton and Fuson have shared bread at the draft table. And they weren't happy that ESPN never panned into their war room.

But the room was just the conduit for a season worth of work to come to the forefront.

"We needed this draft," Fuson noted.

They never imagined Nick Schmidt would be on the board, especially when the talk of his selection began with the eighth overall pick.

"It was a kid we had on the radar prior to the year," said Fuson. "Really low odds that we thought we had a chance to get him. When you look at our upper levels, we are still looking for help. To get a pitcher this far along in the game. He has four pitches and has performed at the highest level."

"We followed him and felt really comfortable with the last several looks we had," Gayton said. "He has solid stuff across the board."

Outfielder Kellen Kulbacki out of James Madison was the second player to be chosen by the Padres and is a mix of patience and power in the Fuson mold.

Given his advanced approach, he has a chance to move quickly through the system.

"I was really excited to get him at 40," Gayton said. "The first swing I saw he hit a home run. The next swing he hit a home run."

"He has been a home run hitter every year he has been there," Fuson said of Kulbacki.

Drew Cumberland is a fast player that doesn't profile to have much power in his body but will be a catalyst at the top of the lineup – something this system sorely lacks.

"Cumberland is another guy we talked about early," Gayton admitted.

"Young, live-bodied shortstop," Fuson added.

The Padres added a catcher, another shortstop, a second baseman two centerfielders, a second left-hander and two righties to finish off the first day.

"Being a former scouting director, I know the work these guys put in, the process," Towers said. "These two are tremendous evaluators. The job they do will make my job as a GM easier. I am very proud of both of them."

Day two begins early tomorrow and the Padres are expecting to take a few more gambles on high school players that may have slipped.

"It is going to be interesting to see if these players fall – we are interested in a few and we thought about a few today but had players we were attracted to," said Fuson. "You might see us jump in that game."

While the first five rounds may provide the meat, the next wave will also have its share of successes.

We will also put the full 45-minute press conference up on Friday night with 15 minutes in a private setting.

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