Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher. Mandatory Credit: ldnews.com.
Earlier I wrote that the Padres were either locked in on Touki Toussaint or the best position player available, and today it’s come to light that GM Josh Byrnes and company are leaning more towards position players than Toussaint, or any other pitcher for that matter. They remain diplomatic about drafting an arm, saying they won’t resist an impact arm.
ESPN insider writer Keith Law has posted his updated mock draft ($) which relies more on what he’s hearing from the industry than who he thinks should be drafted. He has the Friars drafting NC State shortstop Trea Turner at 13 overall, a confusing pick since Burnes was focused more on an impact bat than impact fielder.
Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus published a free article on FoxSports.com today on which teams do better in the draft. In short, the Padres produce an elite number of major leaguers, but many of them never contribute much to the team.
And as more information comes out, there are more potential targets for the Padres on Thursday. Here they are:
Aaron Nola RHP Louisiana State University
Nola is the “safe pitcher” of this draft, if such a thing even exists after the plethora of arm injuries. He’s a projected top 10 pick, with most thinking he doesn’t fall past the Phillies, but bigger drops have happened in the draft. Nola is a rare prospect who has an advanced feel for the art of pitching, something that helps his stuff play up, similar to Marlins prospect Andrew Heaney. Nola commands his pitches well and controls the strike zone with expertise, and both are absolute musts for pitchers these days. Because of his pitchability, Nola has a very high floor, and his ceiling can go as high as his stuff takes him.
He’s not blowing anyone away with his low 90s fastball, but he gets great movement on the pitch. He uses it to not only set up other pitches, but to rely on the run and sink for grounders. His changeup is also excellent, using the same arm angle and arm speed, but with a hard velo drop and great late fade. His curveball is average at best right now, and he will need to develop it more to be a valuable starter at the Show.
Nola’s low three-quarters arm slot scares off some teams, but he repeats his mechanics well and leaves little concern over future injury. The development of a good breaking pitch will determine just how great he can be, and he shows signs of being an easy number two starter on occasion. Whoever he lands with, Nola has a clear path to the majors.
Jacob Gatewood SS Clovis High School
Gatewood flashes some of the best power in the entire draft class, but don’t let the power potential blind you; Gatewood has bust possibilities as large as his power. His hit tool is below average thanks to mechanical flaws in his swing. Gatewood’s developing body and average speed will almost definitely push him off shortstop and either into LF or the hot corner at 3B if his arm and footwork are advanced enough.
He shows typical mistakes made by young hitter by opening up his hips too early and selling out for power too hard. This throws off his timing and mechanics, leading to huge issues with contact. Offspeed pitches give him tremendous problems for those reasons. His fielding is average across the board, and his arm could play at 3B.
The power is legit but his mechanical flaws limit how much he can tap into it. With the proper developmental team, Gatewood could be a one of the premier power hitters in the game, hitting 30-35 bombs annually. Gatewood is a huge boom or bust, and even though the risk is high, the upside is gigantic.
Derek Fisher OF Virginia
Fisher turned down a deal from the Rangers after drafting him in 2011 that would have made him a millionaire, but his commitment to Virginia is about to pay huge dividends. His consistency is lacking, which scares some teams off and is why he projects to go late first round, if he’s in the first round at all. But his lefty swing is one of the sweetest in the class, and if he can perform on a more regular basis, Fisher could turn out to be something special.
Fisher profiles best in left field, despite decent speed. His reads on fly balls are pretty brutal, and many catchable balls find the grass when he’s patrolling the outfield. Fortunately for Fisher and whoever drafts him, his bat is so good it might not even matter. He combines a plus hit to with a plus power tool, and still has some projection left. His swing has some issues with generating power, and needs to lengthen his stride to incorporate his legs better. He could also add better leverage to his swing, as he hits too many grounders to be a true power hitter.
There are plenty of issues with Fisher’s tools, but he could provide huge value for the Padres at pick 13. It would be a reach, but saves money later in the draft to add players with questionable signability, and Fisher’s ceiling is as good as any other bat.
Monte Harrison OF Lee’s Summit West HS
A standout two sport athlete, Harrison is committed to the University of Nebraska to play wide receiver. Hopefully the curse that UN put on Bubba Starling for abandoning his commitment to sign with the Royals doesn’t extend to Harrison, because he’s one of the most exciting athletes in the draft class. His speed is obvious, but he generates good pop with strong contact ability. There’s a lot of work to be done with the swing, just like with Starling, but there’s hope that Harrison is a legit five-tool ballplayer.
Harrison’s swing is fast and strong, but he needs to learn to use his whole body more. He stays too upright through contact, and could have plus power if he uses his legs and core more efficiently. But Harrison’s fielding ability is the real special tool he offers. His 4.3 second 40 yard dash is true wide receiver material, and combined with good jumps on balls in the outfield and he profiles as an elite defensive center fielder. His big frame looks to still fill out, which could push him to a corner, but he has the arm strength to play in right field if need be.
Harrison possesses some of the best athletic genetics in the entire draft class, but his swing needs a lot of refinement to uncover the diamond level player that’s underneath. The Padres may decide to play it safe and not take Harrison, especially after the horror story that is Bubba Starling, a very comparable player. But Harrison offers huge upside with a potentially cheap price tag.
Kyle Schwarber C/1B Indiana University
Schwarber has arguably the best usable power out of any draft prospect in this class, with some scouts giving it 70 grades. He has a huge frame that helps power balls out of any ballpark, and a good approach that limits strikeouts. His catching and receiving skills are still a work in progress, and he could wind up at 1B if his drafting organization wants his bat in the majors quicker.
Schwarber’s bat is enough to carry him to the show regardless of position, and fits perfectly in the Padres draft plan because of it. The industry is torn on whether or not to leave him as a backstop, but with depth in the system (Austin Hedges, Yasmani Grandal) he could stick to 1B and be on the fast track to San Diego. Because of Schwarber’s mix of power and position concerns, he’s been rumored to go as high as 8 overall, and as low as the second round. It’s a volatile ride for him, but there’s a great chance that Josh Byrnes could snag him with his first pick, adding an immediate impact bat through the draft.
Thanks for reading our continued draft coverage! Stay tuned for more news and updates, as well as our own favorite targets in the draft on Thursday.