Going through a grind of a professional season, with the daily games and workouts is much more indicative of what a player could become than their tools or stats from high school or college.
In 2007, San Diego had eight of the first 87 picks, more than any other team. So far, the results have bore some fruit, but it was not the bonanza that many predicted either.
2008 statistics through July 15
|2008||Rehab (Tommy John Surgery)|
No one can help getting injured, but this has to be a tremendous disappointment to both the club and its fan base. He's scheduled to be back for instructs.
College/HS: George Mason
After a wretched start, Kulbacki so far has shown what the Padres expected him to be a great example of patience and power that may have be the left-handed version of Chad Huffman.
Even when he hit .221 in May for the Storm he still posted a .361 OBP. The big question for Kulbacki is if he can sustain this type of performance that he has put on in June and July? If he does we will see him in San Diego very quickly.
College/HS: Pace HS, Florida
A player with plus speed who is holding his own against players three to four years older than him. Cumberland's defense is picking up but still has a ways to go, especially with his arm strength at shortstop. The Padres believe he has the ability to stay in the middle of the field and as he fills out will become more of a gap hitter.
College/HS: Oregon State
His power has picked up every month this year, and Canham is everything the Padres want from a catcher offensively. Defensively, he does a good job getting down blocking balls, calling games and has solid leadership abilities. But he's still learning how to catch and needs to get better at throwing out runners.
College/HS: Ohio State
A very good control pitcher with a good fastball meets the California League and regresses. Luebke can throw three pitches for strikes, but the question is where the strikes are makes for difficult sledding in the desert. He put up some good numbers in the Low-A, but the question is can he refine all three of his pitches enough to keep batter off-balance at upper levels? Right now, the answer has been no and he is back in Fort Wayne to hone his repertoire.
College/HS: Georgia Tech
Payne showed an ability to get on base and play the outfield but is going to need more power to get some attention. He's been hurt most of the year and only began playing for the Wizards at the end of June.
Second Round Picks
College/HS: Arizona State
He's slowed down since a blistering April that saw him post an OPS of 1.049, but his overall numbers are very strong. He's shown he can play second and hit the ball into the gap, and with Antonelli falling into the abyss this year, he could emerge as strong second base prospect.
His on-base sills and defense are his calling cards, but he's going to have to hit the ball into the gaps more to have a chance in the big leagues. A player very similar to Danny Payne, the difference is that he's been healthy this year.
College/HS: Broward Junior College
A strained oblique has largely wrecked Latos second year, but he did show some flashes in limited appearances with the Wizards. When he's healthy, he still has the big mid-90s fastball with a 6-foot-6 frame behind it. According to the Padres, he should be back for the second half in Fort Wayne and according to his pitching coaches his secondary pitches have improved.
College/HS: Midwest City Junior College
A tremendous talent who needs to learn to develop and trust his secondary pitches more, especially his changeup. Once he can keep batter off-balance, the numbers will pick up. Until then, he has to learn that he can't simply blow away professional hitters, a lesson that will become more evident once he reaches the California League. McBryde is the classic example of someone that needs to learn how to pitch instead of throwing. Still, a potential big time talent.
Best Late Round Picks
College/HS: Oral Roberts
The best pitcher in Fort Wayne this year and has the best overall numbers of anyone the Padres selected in the 2007 draft. He throws three pitches for strikes, fastball, change and slider – the big question is will his fastball miss enough bats at upper levels?
College/HS: South Carolina
Solid pro debut after having to sit out the 2007 season with a busted kneecap. He can relieve or start, but right now the Padres want to find out how far they can ride him as a starter. Throws three pitches for strikes with a plus fastball.
Right now Kulbacki, Sogard, Canham and Cumberland appear to be the stars of the draft. Kulbacki is probably the closest to the majors but Cumberland could actually end up being the star if he can stick at shortstop. Latos and McBryde may end up being the best in the end, but they still have quite a bit of talent to harness.
With a high number of early picks, and the Padres stating that they were willing to spend some money, passing on high school uber pitching phenom Rick Porcello for the easier, and cheaper, Arkansas left-hander Nick Schmidt disappointed many San Diego fans who follow this process.
When Schmidt ended up joining fellow first round pitchers Cesar Carrillo and Tim Stauffer on the DL with "Tommy John" surgery it was particularly difficult for both the organization and a fan base than hasn't forgiven the Padres for squandering a number one overall selection in 2004 on Matt Bush.
Should the Padres have taken a chance on the young talented Porcello? It depends. There were 26 other teams that agreed with them and thought his salary demands were excessive. However, it was also hard to find anyone who didn't believe Porcello was not the best pitcher in the draft after David Price, who the Rays selected number one overall.
Bottom line: if you are going to develop a championship caliber team by building through the draft, you have to take the best overall player, regardless of the cost. The price tags that are associated with the draft are nowhere near the cost of playing in the free agent market and the payoff is an ability to have relatively controlled cost, i.e. cheaper players, for a six-year period, allows small and medium market teams an opportunity to compete.
Neither Tampa nor Arizona, two of the more successful homegrown teams, has shied away from paying premium prices for premium talent. For example, this year Tampa shelled out over $6 million for high school shortstop Tim Beckham, despite having many highly rated players both in the majors and in their system that play the same position or positions that Beckham could eventually wind up. The reason for his selection? He was the best player available.
Detroit, the team that ended up selecting Porcello with the 27th pick, believed a $7.3 million dollars spread over four years was worth the gamble for arguably the best high school pitcher since Josh Beckett.
With the Padres in last place at the midway point of the season and an expected high selection in the 2009 draft, it will be interesting to see if San Diego decides to take the player with the highest ceiling, a chance to acquire a superstar or a difference maker, instead of the highest ceiling and the lowest risk, which has been their philosophy.
It just depends on your definition of "the best player available."
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