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Padres 2014 Draft Recap- Johnny Baseball?? 

As the Padres front office might have noticed Saturday afternoon, the last day of the 2014 MLB First Year Player Draft, Padres fans are not exactly in the mood for a joke right now. The Padres selection of Cleveland Browns quarterback (and Heisman Trophy winner) Johnny Manziel in the 28th round of the draft comes in the middle of a losing home stand following a losing road trip in the front end of a losing season for a team that can’t hit or score runs with any consistency. Coming on the heels of a front office that added the “Final Piece” when trading for OF Seth Smith in the off-season, the ineptitude of this present Padres team has the local faithful on edge and angry.

Not exactly the right atmosphere to be pulling a prank on the Padres long suffering fan base. Padres team president Mike Dee had dinner with Manziel during the off-season and it could be construed that a relationship between the two fostered this decision. There is a precedence for these moves through the history of the draft, with several football athletes drafted “just in case” the whole football thing doesn’t work out but this would have been much better received if the local team was playing better baseball and hadn’t raised expectations before the start of the season.

That being said, there were some legitimate baseball players chosen over the three days of the draft and following is a brief review of some of the highlights:

Following the picks of Trea Turner, SS and Michael Gettys, OF in the first two rounds, the Padres went heavier on college bats in the early rounds but did pick a couple college arms with interesting profiles.

3rd round: Zech (pronounced Zach) Lemond, RHP,  Jr.  Rice University. 6-3, 175, 10/9/92,  who was ranked as the #58 draft prospect on MLB.com and drafted #86 overall. Lemond profiles out as a starter for the Padres who could be moved to the bullpen if need be. He was the closer for Rice in 2013 and was moved to the rotation in March. He developed elbow inflammation after five starts and missed several games but came back strong as a bullpen piece for the end of the season. He features a 92-96 mph fastball with a downward tilt and some arm side run. His 85 mph curve has a big spike and he can also throw a slider and change. He throws strikes with a season 1.34 ERA in 15 games and 5 GS with 52 SO in 53.2 IP (scouting report per MLB.com).

4th round: Nick Torres, OF,  Jr., Cal Poly,  R/R,  6-1,  220,  6/30/93. Ranked #109 in the MLB.com prospect list and drafted #117 overall, Torres is a corner outfielder who makes hard contact and has raw power. He has a good enough arm for right field and had a .322 avg in 2014 with 7 HR and 52 RBI in 242 AB for the season (MLB.com draft site).

5th round: Austin Bousfield, OF, Ole Miss. Drafted on the recommendation of Padres scout Andrew Salvo, Bousfield should stick in centerfield and should hit for average and power. His 2014 average of .349 included 6 HR, 48 RBI, 17 SB in 62 games. (Corey Brock, MLB.com)

6th round: Zach Risedorf, C, Northwest Regional HS(CONN), R/R. Risedorf was the 5th high school catcher selected in the draft and was scouted by Padres scout Jim Bretz. According to the scout-supplied information (Corey Brock, MLB.com) Risedorf has plus defense and a plus arm with the mentality of a baseball rat. Heady player with a good work ethic and, as the saying goes for pitching, one can never have to many catchers.

7th round: Ryan Butler, RHP, Univ. of North Carolina-Charlotte,  R/R,  6-6,  225,  2/23/92. Drafted in the 16th round in 2013 by NYY. Butler has a checkered athletic career over the last three years. He began at Marshall in 2011 but only pitched in 15.1 innings and transferred to Northwestern Florida State JC for 2012. His sophomore season was over after 24 IP with a sore elbow that lead to Tommy John surgery. After sitting out 2013, Butler worked out for the Yankees pre draft and threw 97 mph. He choose not to sign and  enrolled at Charlotte for the 2014 season where he clocked his fastball at 91-95 mph (top 99) with good sink but was unable to develop a quality breaking ball. He is said to be working on a curve and slider. It seems this is a draft and develop pick that could be high reward or a washout. (scouting report per MLB.com)

9th round: Ryan Vilter,  SS,  UC Riverside,  6-3,  220. Vilter is a big, strong middle infielder with power (10 HR leads team), and a .442 OBP. Scouted by Padres Josh Emmerick, Vilter is athletic with a good arm, good makeup and work ethic and could be moved to a corner infield spot as he develops. (Corey Brock, MLB.com).

10th round: Thomas Dorminy, LHP,  Faulkner University(ALA), Scouted by Andrew Salvo of the Padres, Dorminy is seen as a pitchability guy who can top out at 93mph on his fastball and has a curve and a change. Salvo threw out a Randy Wolf comp. He had 131 SO in 109 IP with a .222 avg against. This gave him a 11-3 record with a 3.22 ERA in 18 games and 16 GS with 5 complete games. (Corey Brock, MLB.com)

11th round: Yale Rosen, OF,  Washington St (WA), L/L,  6-2,  210,  5/9/93. Rosen is considered an on base guy with some power, average defense and average speed. His .294 average included 5 HR, 13 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 28 RBI and 25 BB. He worked out for the Padres prior to the draft and will be heading to Eugene (CougCenter.com and Cougfan.com).

15th round: Logan Jernigan, RHP, North Carolina St, R/R,  6-3,  200. A team mate of first round pick Trea Turner and the #2 starter after first rounder Carlos Rodon, Jernigan was the better pitcher at times but struggled in 2014. His fastball sits about 90 mph but can reach 93 and he can cut it. He pitches on a downward plane with a curve that shows promise but he was inconsistent and had control issues. If unable to stick as a starter, he figures to make a top bullpen prospect. (MLB.com prospect report)

After picking Manziel in the 28th round, the Padres made another wild grab in the 40th round. Bryce Carter, a high school catcher from Oklahoma has a strong commit to Stanford and was not drafted early on due to signability. He is considered athletic and has high projection as a power hitter but needs development. It is very unlikely he will be signed.

As for the draft pool, the Padres bonus pool for the first ten rounds was $6,098,600. The first round bonus is $2.73 mil with Gettys slotted to receive $1.08 million. There is some speculation it may take more than that to sign him away from his University of Georgia commitment. If he develops as everyone hopes, he could come back to the draft as a high first rounder. But the Padres have expressed confidence in being able to sign him.

The third round pick slots out at $632,000 with the following rounds at $445,000, $333,000, $249,000, $187,000, $159,000, $148,000 and $139,000 respectively. Zach Risedorf, the 6th round draftee, is committed to the University of Conneticut.

In the first 18 rounds the Padres selected only two prep athletes (Gettys and Risedorf) and ten pitchers. From rounds 14 thru 26 it was all pitchers. So despite the claim to concentrate on bats in the draft there is still a heavy draft of pitchers. To be fair, this was not considered a good draft for prep bats and the good college bats were all taken early. Although more balanced than some previous years, the draft was still more heavily favored toward arms.

The signing deadline is now July 18 and I will post a list of the signed players and where they will be playing after signing. After the season there will be a brief overview of their first partial professional season.

Let the games begin.

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