To whatever degree you can say this current Padres team is built on anything, San Diego is generally
built on pitching. Through numerous GM’s, the club has stockpiled some nice young arms. Cory Luebke, Joe Wieland, and Casey Kelly are just a few names expected to have a great deal of success in the future. The problem, though, is the Padres may be getting too pitcher-heavy. With their home ball park, the price of getting a talented young pitcher verse a talented young hitter, and lack of true dedication to offense, the Padres are in danger of forgetting half the equation for winning; scoring runs.
As the MLB Amateur Draft approaches, it would be easy to see San Diego going hard at pitchers with their numerous picks (They have the 7th, 33rd, 44th, and 55th overall picks in just the first round and compensation round). The problem as outlined in my piece A Tale of Two Franchises is that San Diego needs a star. They need offense. They need a hitter. For them to get that player, they will need to start going hard at position players in this year’s draft.
Bleacher Report‘s mock draft has San Diego selecting RHP Lucas Giolito number seven overall. Giolito was at one time considered a number one overall talent, but a UCL sprain has reduced his value to many.
Through the Fence Baseball‘s mock draft has the Padres selecting LHP Max Fried seventh overall. He is a strikeout machine in high school a d has one of the best curve balls in the draft.
MLB Draft Insider‘s mock draft has San Diego seeking RHP Kyle Zimmerman number seven. Zimmer doesn’t have many years logged on his arm, so he is attractive to many teams. He has plus stuff on all his pitches and could develop into a stud.
That’s three different sites with three different players projected to go seventh overall to the Padres. The common theme, though, is that they are all pitchers. There are some position players out there who – depending on which mock draft you believe – could be available to the Padres instead of the above mentioned pitchers. Deven Marrero is someone we’ve covered here before, but there are others including Carlos Correa, Stephen Piscotty, and Addison Russell.
Each of the above mentioned players are infielders, and all but Piscotty are middle infielders. It’s no secret the Padres need help in the middle-infield department. But honestly, the Padres just need to draft a player with an elite upside. They need to give themselves an opportunity to boast one of the best young players in baseball. But that player needs to be a hitter.
Drafting a pitcher is safe. Pitchers work out much more often than hitters. If starters fails, teams can convert them to relievers and find success. It’s easer to see a pitcher’s skills in high school and college translate to the pros. But that’s the problem. The Padres need to stop playing it safe. They need to take risks. Instead of concerning themselves with how difficult it may be to sign a top-level talent like Bryan Buxton if he is available or any of the best position players out there, the Padres need to pull the trigger. If they don’t, they will never truly develop into a competitive team.
Drafting an elite pitcher with their first pick would not kill the Padres this season, but at some point, they need to draft a superstar hitter that can appear in 150+ games a year to help sell tickets. At some point, San Diego needs to let go of their long-standing belief that they can pass on the best players and save money on decent talent. That will no longer bring success. Teams are getting smarter. They are spending money on the draft. And quite frankly, the new CBA has made it easier for the Padres. Unless big spenders like the Yankees and Red Sox are willing to pay huge fees for exceeding the recommended slot bonus price for draftees, the Padres will not have a big concern about paying too much.
Pitchers will always perform well at Petco Park, even if the fences are moved in. The lack of offense, however, is something the team must eventually address. Altering the dimensions is not the end-all solution. This upcoming draft is a real opportunity to address their offensive needs. But, they will likely draft another pitcher.