San Diego Padres Draft Tendencies

Scout's Lead MLB draft analyst Jeff Ellis continues a 30 part series looking at the recent draft history and tendencies of every team in major league baseball. Next up is the San Diego padres who own the third pick in the 2017 draft.

The San Diego Padres are entering their third year with AJ Preller running things. Last year’s draft marked the first time that the Padres had a first round pick under Preller. While the amount of data is limited, there is still a lot of information one can glean from the picks that have been made, especially the picks that were made last year.

When it comes to a relatively new GM, one who has been on the job for three years or less, the first thing I do is look at the organization they came from. Teams poach management from teams that are successful, and those managers more often than not end up following an approach very similar to the approach of their previous organization.

Preller came from Texas, which had a very specific approach. They would, to use a colloquial phrase, “go big, or go home”. The Rangers would swing for the fences with picks, looking at youth, ceiling, and loud tools. They were not afraid to take risks on talent, and placed a heavy emphasis on athletes and up the middle talent.

In 2015, with their top pick, the Padres took Austin Smith, who fit the Texas model to a T. He is an athletic right hander with easy velocity. I had him mocked to the Rangers a few times in ‘15, because he seemed exactly the type of player they take. Instead of the Rangers taking him in round two, he went to the Padres.

In 2016, the Padres ended up with three picks in the top 25 and four in the top 40. The first pick was Cal Quantrill who, before an arm injury, had some talk that he would be the top pick in the draft. Rumors persisted that he had high promise and would take his time recovering from injury. Quantrill had not pitched in over a year and the Padres went over slot to sign him. Even though Quantrill was a college player, this was a gamble on talent. He has looked every bit worth it early on.

The Padres had two more picks, thanks to the loss of Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy. At 24 they grabbed Hudson Potts, though at the time he was named Hudson Sanchez. This was a surprise pick, as Potts was viewed as a late second or early third round candidate. Potts signed for well under slot, saving the Padres 1.19 million to use on later picks. I have to note how much Potts d fits the model I mentioned above. He didn’t turn 18 until October, plays up the middle, and is a plus athlete. It was a reach, but one that fits the mold and allowed them the freedom to sign other high upside talents like Mason Thompson and Reggie Lawson, who both had first round talk as prep pitchers before injuries. This shows that with Lawson, Thompson, and Quantrill, the Padres have no fear of injured players as well.

The last of the first round picks was Eric Lauer, a lefty from Kent State who dominated the MAC this year in a way I had never seen. I mean this literally, as he posted the lowest ERA by a starting pitcher in college baseball since before I was born. The Padres saved about 100K with this pick, so this selection was purely about talent. While he is a safe college talent, he fits the Rangers/Padres mold by being a plus athlete and throwing left handed. His physical resemblance to the player the Rangers took just five picks later, Cole Ragans, helps show this commonality.

So what will the Padres do in 2017? As of now, I would expect Kendall and Greene off the board, which leaves the Padres with their choice of any college arm they want. Preller has shown a preference for arms, both in the deals he has made and where he spent his draft capital.

Outside of the Cashner deal, every trade Preller has made this year had a central return of a pitcher, and even that one, in its original form, had a well thought of arm. Over the last two years, five out of the seven draft picks the Padres have signed for a million or more were arms. This leads me to believe that the Padres will more than likely grab the top college arm here. I would bet on Kyle Wright or JB Bukauskas. Bukauskas might be smaller, be he is the youngest of the top college arms in this class, not turning 21 until October. He is younger than Faedo and Wright by a year. The Padres have leaned towards bigger arms though which might eliminate Bukauskas. Wright is widely viewed as the arm with the biggest upside of the group. This will be just his second year as a starter and he has all the prototypical measurements one looks for in a future front of the line starter.

The Padres are in a great position and I expect that, in the end, they will go best player available with this selection to add more talent to one of the best minors in baseball.
San Diego Padres Cal Quantrill Austin Smith Eric Lauer Hudson Potts Kyle Wright Jacob Bukauskas


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