Padres 2014 Draft Preview: It’s a toss up
MLB is staging it’s 2014 First Year Player Draft on June 5-7. With those dates closing in on us there is little consensus of opinion among the experts as who will be picked after Brady Aiken, LHP out of Cathedral Catholic High School here in San Diego. All the draft analysis from spots 2 and throughout the first round differs on which team picks what player in their given slot.
The draft is heavy this year in pitching with six of the ten top players listed as favorites being pitchers (according to Baseball America). The top ranked position player, also out of San Diego, is Ranch Bernardo High School catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson. Both of those players will be gone in the first five picks. From there it seems to be almost anything goes for the first twenty picks or so. If you do a quick overview of the major draft sites you will see many of the same players mentioned repeatedly but in no particular order. Reading either Jim Callis or Jonathon Mayo on the MLB.com site will show you that any given team is rumored to be pursuing as many as five players in their given slot.
The one thing that seems very clear is that high school right handed pitchers dominate the list and there is very little depth in middle of the diamond position players.
Supposedly, no team drafts for present need so we can forget about the Padres drafting for power hitters, although they did go that route last year in drafting Hunter Renfroe. The going strategy is to draft the best player available when it is your turn so a pitcher might be selected, despite the fact that players/hitters are what this organization desperately needs. Especially high profile hitters.
I researched MLB.com, Baseball America, ESPN, Scouting Baseball, mymlbdraft.com, Bleacher Report and mlbdraftinsider.com to try and find some consensus as to who the Padres might be looking at when they pick at No 13 in the first round on June 5th. I would love to say that there is a high profile bat just sitting out there at that spot and the Padres brass will pick him but there is just as good a chance that it could be a pitcher as well.
In a recent online article by Corey Brock of mlb.com, Chad McDonald (GM of player personnel) and Billy Gasparino (scouting director) both acknowledged the need for impact bats in the system but also acknowledged that if an impact arm is available they won’t turn their backs on that player either. The 2012 draft was heavy in pitchers and the early rounds of last year’s draft emphasized hitters, so it will be interesting to see how this one pans out. Of course, a lot of it depends on what the twelve teams ahead of you decide to do with their picks and, once again, I refer to the mock drafts on line to highlight that most of the experts aren’t really sure how many of the teams are leaning. There is a lot of talent in the first round with many of them rated equally with slight advantages in one are or another.
The Padres bring a purse of $6,098,600 in bonus money for the first 10 picks. Their first pick, #13, carries a $2.723 million bonus and the way this is all calculated is listed in the drafting rules but is based on the previous years finish position as well as the previous draft and unsigned players, etc. Please feel free to go look that up and report back if you find the topic fascinating.
Following is a look at the several players that could be the Padres pick at No 13 on Thursday. From there on down through the 40th round there will be many players chosen. The first pick brings the most attention and provides for the most excitement. After the draft we will take a peek at the bulk of the draft class and highlight some players that appear the most interesting. Most of the information given comes from MLB.com’s draft site (which includes video for all of these players). I provide a synopsis of their scouting reports. To see the video on each player, check the Top 200 heading on the site.
Based on my own bias towards middle of the diamond talent, we will start with …..
Possessing plus speed, good base running skills and good instincts, Turner should be a major league leadoff hitter. According to the draft site on MLB.com he makes good contact, controls the strike zone and is able to get on base. His biggest fault is that he is a bit overzealous and needs to be more disciplined. He is quick with plus arm strength but needs more defensive work as he just switched to the shortstop position in 2013. Turner should stick at short but will need polishing in the minor leagues.
Pentecost is a offense first catcher who should be able to hit for average with some power and has a quick bat. His receiving skills need improvement but he has a good arm and could stick at catcher with some work in the minors. His foot speed is better than average for a catcher but just average overall.
Derek Hill, OF/CF, Sr at Elk Grove High in CA, 6-2, 175, R/R, Born 12/30/95. Commitment to Oregon St.
Noted for his plus speed, plus defense and solid arm, Hill should stick in center as well as show good bat speed, line drive power and plus approach to equal a solid hitter for average and gap power. He rates highest for his speed and base running skills could make him a strong leadoff candidate. His power is not there but, as a high school player, there might be more development as he matures and adds bulk to him frame.
Kyle Schwerber, C/OF, Jr. out of Indiana, 6-0, 230, L/R, Born 3/5/93.
His power bat ranks as his top skill with exceptional strength, good bat speed, strike zone control and an ability to put the barrel on the ball so that he should also be able to hit for average as well. His catching skills may not keep him behind the plate as his throwing and receiving are below average but he could profile at a corner outfield spot but does not have anything more than average to below average speed.
Brother of pitcher Kyle Zimmer, drafted by the Royals in 2012, Bradley could be a fast mover through the minor leagues. He has a sweet left handed stroke with good pitch recognition and possibly plus power if he develops some loft on his swing. He currently hits lots of line drives, has plus instincts and is a good baserunner. He is a good bet for right field if he is unable to stick in center.
Michael Conforto, OF, Jr at Oregon St. 6-2, 217, L/R, Born 3/1/93.
His claim to fame is his power stroke. Should be an average hitter otherwise, he has exceptional power hitting upside but needs to cut down on his strikeouts to succeed at the major league level. He profiles only as a corner outfielder as he has less than average arm strength, speed and range.
Kyle Freeland LHP, Jr at Evansville, 6-4, 185, L/L, Born 5/14/93. Drafted in the 35th round of the 2011 draft by Philadelphia.
A low to mid 90’s fastball, with a deceptive delivery, comes in heavy and induces lots of swing an misses. He has a good slider and can cut it, with an average change. Throwing from a lower arm angle, he keeps hitters off balance but is a max effort pitcher which raises concerns over durability. There is more projection there as he grows into his height and may develop more velocity.
The son of a Haitian politician, he has probably got the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the high school class. His upside could be terrific or he could bust as his main issue is control. His fastball tops out at 97, with a mid 70’s curve that has a big break and a mid 80’s change. His delivery is clean but he has problems repeating it. He has top of the rotation potential with lots of projection but it will be a risk for whoever drafts him.
Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU, 5-11, 185, L/L, Born 4/14/93. Drafted in the 45th round of the 2011 draft by Texas.
He can throw a high 90’s fastball, a low 80’s slider and a change. Durability could be a concern due to his max effort delivery. There is minimal projection due to his frame and he could possibly end up as a bullpen pitcher, possibly a closer, to prolong his career.
It should be noted that this is not an exhaustive list but just the names mentioned most often by the draft analysts at MLB and throughout the web. I would certainly not be surprised if someone else sneaks in there as the ability to predict the draft this year seems very high risk. It should also be noted there is no overwhelming favorite projected for the Padres pick. For those who feel they will draft a college bat there are just as many who feel they will go for a pitcher if that is the best player available when their turn comes.
Drafting power when you play in Petco Park is always a risk so drafting for average and speed could be a better choice. But getting a good arm means you can latter have trade bait in order to acquire a good bat. I certainly can’t decide which of these players I would pick if I were in the Padres spot.
The draft begins Thursday, June 5, at 4pm PT on MLB Network, rounds 1 and 2 will be carried live. Rounds 3-10 will be on mlb.com on June 6 and rounds 11-40 on mlb.com June 7, both of those at 10am PT. Representing the Padres on draft day will be Randy Jones, 1976 Cy Young Award Winner, and scout Jimmy Nelson. Randy will be one of four Cy Young winners present on draft day.
The Padres have no comp picks this year and have the 51st pick (2nd round), 86th pick (3rd round), the 117th pick (4th round) and then every 30th pick on rounds 5 thru 40. You are not required to pick a player with every pick but the Padres generally do.
Check back after the draft for more information on the picks and some of their stories.