General Manager Josh Byrnes has been with the Padres now for three drafts. In his first draft in 2011, the Padres selected Cory Spangenberg with their top pick, 10th overall. Corey was a left-handed hitting junior college Second Baseman who had already built a pretty good track record of being able to hit with wood bats for a high average. The next year, Byrnes and company selected left-handed high school pitcher Max Fried with the 7th overall pick. In the most recent draft, the Padres selected Hunter Renfroe, a raw but powerful outfielder from Mississippi State. In each of the three drafts, the player selected by the Padres was considered the “best on the board” at the time they were selected. This could cause one to think that there is no rhyme or reason to the Padres draft strategy, except to take the best player available. That is, until you crunch the numbers.
In the first 40 rounds of the draft, during the Byrnes years, the players taken look something like this:
- High School Hitter: 16
- College Hitter: 42
- High School Pitcher: 21
- College Pitcher: 41
There appears to be somewhat of a bias towards college players and why shouldn’t there be. The Padres starting lineup features Grandal (possibly), Alonso, Gyorko, Headley, Quentin and Venable who all came from the college ranks. Not to mention several pitchers to include Andrew Cashner and Huston Street. When looking at the numbers, other trends begin to emerge as well. Although the Padres had not picked any high school hitters until the 10th round of the 2012 Draft, they picked 6 of only 16 picked in the Byrnes era during the first 10 rounds of last years draft. Could this be a shift in focus or was it a one year effort to get younger hitters into the lower levels of the Minor Leagues?
In 2012 only one college pitcher was picked in the first 15 rounds. However, in 2011 and 2013 there were 5 taken in the first 13 rounds each year. The 2012 Draft seems to differ from the other two Byrnes era drafts in that it featured, almost exclusively, college batters and high school pitchers for the first half of the draft. It would appear from the outside looking in that maybe the team drafts pitchers and hitters in certain age categories every other year in order to replenish the system. If that is the case, then we could very well see another high school pitcher taken with the 13th overall pick this June. If it’s not a high school pitcher, history has shown that it will almost definitely be a college hitter.
If you’re a “prospector” like I am, then this time of year is doubly wonderful for you. Not only is it the start of the Major League and Minor League seasons but it also is the beginning of the college and high school seasons. Here are the players that I have targeted that could be available for the Padres in the middle of the first round. Yes, the list consists almost entirely of high school pitchers and college hitters.
1. Derek Fisher – Outfielder (LH) – University of Virginia (2013: .293/.405/.483, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 8 SB, 40 K, 28 BB in 205 AB)
Fisher was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 6th round of the 2011 Draft but decided to attend college. It will turn out to be a very good thing for him. Much like last year’s pick Hunter Renfroe, Fisher has made very big strides during his time at UVA and during his Summers in the Cape Cod League. To follow up his 2013 stats that you see above, Fisher went to the Cape Cod League and batted .333 with 25 walks and only 19 strikeouts. At 6’3″, his swing is pretty big and loopy which could lead to a high number of strikeouts but, if he continues the progress made in Cape Cod, he could put up huge numbers for Virginia (currently ranked #4 in the country) this season. In a very small sample size (3 games), in 2014 Fisher is 5 for 11 with 1 walk and 2 strikeouts. He may not develop Hunter Renfroe power but, his decent speed could make up the difference. Scouting Video
2. Touki Toussaint – Pitcher (RH) – Coral Springs Christian Academy (2013: 6-2, 0.78 ERA, 83K, 29 BB, 45 IP)
If Derek Fisher is this year’s Hunter Renfroe, then Touki Toussaint would be this year’s Max Fried. Granted, he is right-handed and two inches shorter but, Touki is putting up very similar numbers as a high schooler. The worry with him is walks, just like it has been for Fried. Touki throws very hard, usually in the 96-97 mph range. He has a curveball that some consider to be the best in the class. If he were left-handed, I would say there is no chance of the Padres landing him at 13. If he comes out and has a good season, there is probably still little chance. That being said, Touki would be perfect for the Padres farm system. The system is loaded with arms at the top and could use an infusion of life in the lower levels. Perhaps this is the year that the Padres grab high school pitchers very early in the draft, just like 2012. Scouting Video
3. Grant Holmes – Pitcher (RH) – Conway HS (SC) (Impossible to find – thanks Conway HS!)
Despite my inability to find any stats for Holmes, it’s pretty obvious that the kid is good. There may not be any stats but, there are a million scouting reports around. By the way, my “thanks Conway HS” above may seem harsh so, I should explain that I graduated from Conway High’s rival, Socastee High School – Go Braves! But, I digress. If Toussaint is off the board, which is likely, Holmes is a very good consolation prize. The only real difference between the two is that Holmes is the same size but doesn’t look like he will get any bigger. Scouts love that Toussaint has room to grow. However, Holmes already has three plus pitches with very good control over all of them. His fastball can hit 96, just like Touki. His curveball falls off a table, just like Touki. His changeup is very deceptive and thrown from an almost identical arm slot as his fastball, not like Touki. Holmes appears to have it all going for him already at his young age. I guess the question is, do you want a polished young pitcher with a ceiling as a third starter or do you want a project with the ceiling of a staff ace? Scouting Video
4. Max Pentecost – Catcher (RH) – Kennesaw State University (2013: .307/.374/.410, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 22 BB, 27 K, 212 AB)
I know, I know, Austin Hedges is the Catcher of the future. I agree. But, as we discussed above, the Padres have shown a tendency of taking the best player available. Pentecost is older and could potentially reach the Majors quickly but, having two very good hitting Catchers both with phenomenal pop times (1.90 for Pentecost), is a problem that I think Josh Byrnes and Bud Black would like to have. The Rangers drafted Pentecost in the 7th round in 2011 and were unable to sign him. Just like Derek Fisher, it appears to have paid off. Like Fisher, Pentecost’s time in the Cape Cod League is what has really opened eyes. Last Summer, Pentecost put up a .346-6-29 line for the Bourne Braves. He is an above average defender and every year his bat gets better. So far in 2014 Pentecost is 8 for 13 with 3 doubles and 2 walks. If Pentecost is available and none of the three above are still on the board, he could very well be the guy. Although, there is not much difference in the overall rankings of Pentecost and our last three potential picks. Scouting Video
5. Mac Marshall – Pitcher (LH) – Parkview High School (GA) (2013: 1-1, 2.13 ERA, 32 BB, 80 K, 46 IP)
You gotta love 80 K’s in 46 innings pitched. You do not gotta love 32 walks in 46 innings pitched. Mac Marshall will be available at pick number 13. The question is will his 2014 season move him into the discussion at 13 or will he be down in the 20′s like most mock drafts have him slotted. Marshall doesn’t have the velocity of the previous two high school pitchers on the list but, low-90′s velocity for a lefty is acceptable. So is having a very hard biting curveball to go along with a decent change-up. If ever there was a project with huge upside, Marshall is it. He is 6’2″ and has a lot of room to add muscle to his skinny frame. Given time and the quality coaching that comes along with being drafted to the Padres organization, Marshall could turn out to be the steal of the draft. Scouting Video
6. Kodi Medeiros – Pitcher (LH) – Waiakea HS (HI) (Stats haven’t made it over from Hawaii yet)
Man, this kid is ridiculous. You have to watch the scouting video at the end of this paragraph. You know a pitcher is filthy when the Catcher braces himself for every pitch. Even if it’s a fastball, coming from Kodi’s left hand, it is a handful. His fastball sits around 92 and has a tailing action that would move it in on a left handed hitter. His slider is insane. It starts at a left handed batters ribs and moves all the way across the plate to the other batter’s box, and it’s 80 mph. His change-up is effective as well. On some mock drafts you see Kodi in the 13th pick area. On some he is in the top 10. On most he is in the Red Sox or Cardinals area of the first round (the end) or not in it at all. Why you may ask? Well, Kodi is only 6’0″ and doesn’t project to get much bigger. On top of that, he throws from a low 3/4 arm slot which is how he accounts for the nastiness of his two primary pitches. Teams may want to wait to pick him, knowing that he will most likely end up in the bullpen. If it was guaranteed that he could stick as a starter, he would be a top 5 pick. Scouting Video
7. Kyle Schwarber – Catcher/First Base (LH) – Indiana University (2013: .366/.456/.647, 18 HR, 54 RBI, 42 BB, 37 K, 235 AB)
Those are some good looking stats, huh? So why would he be available at 13? Because his defensive stats are pretty much the opposite of those. He wants to stay at Catcher but, it doesn’t look like it is going to happen. If he was to get drafted by the Padres I would think that a move to the outfield would be the first order of business. Someone who hits like Schwarber does can carve out a space on a roster for himself. With his average and power, he should not be content to be a back-up Catcher. A move would be good for him. It could also be good for the Padres. An outfield of Rey Fuentes, Alex Dickerson and Kyle Schwarber would be pretty exciting. Man, all this draft talk has my prospector juices flowing! Scouting Video
So, that’s the seven guys that I am going to be keeping a close eye on this season. Do you have any other players that you think the Padres will have on their radar by June? Let us know on Twitter: @FriarsonBase or find us here on Facebook. Thanks for stopping by!