North Carolina State’s Trea Turner. Mandatory Credit: bigleaguefutures.net
Today is the First Year Player Draft in MLB, one of the most exciting days of the season. Months upon months of research has been done by every team, many sports blogs and just fans of the game. Draft day is one of the only days in sports where there is collective optimism, where any team has a chance to find the next superstar. Today, all of the suspense ends, as we find out who will help lead the Padres back to playoffs.
In case you’ve missed it, we’ve been previewing some picks for the Padres so far. We’ve done scouting reports on 15 prospects who we feel the Padres are very interested in. Here they are below:
I’ve also worked to put together a video playlist on the players mechanics and tools, available here.
The Padres continue to be interested in a college position player, according to Corey Brock. It’s no secret that the hitting has been awful (dead last is most offensive categories) and the pitching has been good. The prospect pipeline is flooding with talent, but there’s more pitchers than impact bats, such as Rymer Liriano.
Drafting the best player available is the usual strategy used my most teams, as you can trade off depth pieces for a shallower position. The drawback of drafting to a need is that you can end up passing on potential All-Stars, so we have to trust GM Josh Byrnes has scouted the prospects as much as he needs to make the correct decision.
Now, the mock draft board. Using the information given by a plethora of baseball writers and insiders, we can come close to projecting who is at the top of the Padres board. We aren’t going to include players who are unlikely to make it to them at 13, for the sake of relevancy. All of these players have excellent futures in front of them, and hopefully we get to see them at PETCO very soon.
1. Trea Turner SS NC State
Turner is one of the most athletic players in the entire draft class, and also one of the most fun to watch. He has 70 grade defense, maybe better depending on who you ask, with tremendous speed. His great baseball instincts help his tool set play up into one of the most impactful players on the board, who will end up in All-Star games and with more than his fair share of Gold Gloves. The knock on Turner is his lack of power, and questions about his swing mechanics. He won’t hit many bombs, but his weird swing could also see him struggle at the majors, resulting in the floor of a utility player. Turner’s other skills however are so great, the Padres won’t let him fall past 13.
2. Kyle Schwarber C/1B Indiana University
The IU product has arguably the best power in the draft, and almost inarguably the most usable power. He ability to connect on the ball lets him tap into his 70 grade power often and consistently. He has an advanced approach for someone his age at the plate, something that’s almost impossible to teach. The only concerns on Schwarber here are his lack of defensive chops at catcher, and a need to move off of it to 1B or even LF. With Yonder Alonso patrolling 1B for now, there’s no need to rush Schwarber, or Alonso could be used as trade bait in a year or two. Regardless, Schwarber is the clear choice here if Turner is off the board, and one could make an argument he could be even higher.
3. Touki Toussaint RHP Coral Spring Christian Academy
Drafting high school pitchers is always a risky way to go, especially high in the first round, but Toussaint is well worth it. He has huge risk tied to him because of awkward mechanics and a lack of consistency. But the upside is a frontline ace, something that cannot be ignored for any team in the draft. Toussaint could go much earlier, but Jim Callis of MLB.com says the Padres would take him if he’s available. Reports are confused whether he or Turner is higher, and there’s also the question of if he fits with the Padres draft strategy the way Schwarber does. But Toussaint, if available, would still be an absolute steal at 13 if the Padres can help him develop fully.
4. Max Pentecost C Kennesaw State University
The Padres love their catchers, and Pentecost would be a great addition to an already strong crop. His main value comes in defense, which is what the Padres have focused on in acquiring catchers under Josh Byrnes. His bat could reach .300 at its peak, but he only has gap power, with very little over the fence pop. Still, with studies thinking great defensive catchers can add a few wins just by framing a pitch well, Pentecost’s elite receiving skills make him among the most potentially valuable players in the draft. The Padres are still higher on the other three names, but Pentecost would be another good choice here.
5. Derek Hill OF Elk Grove HS
Hill is the least celebrated of the five draft prospects, but also the most likely to fall at 13. He doesn’t fit with the history of drafting college players, but he has awesome projection for his tools. He plays near 80 grade defense in CF, fueled by great instincts to help him get good jumps, and plus speed. His power output may never max out higher than the low teens, but good bat control will help him get a ton of singles and contact doubles. He could be a top of the order catalyst for any offense if he comes close to his projections, and the Padres can’t go wrong with him if he’s the only one left.
All of these players project as great players in the future, even with the risk associated. Drafting Trea Turner so high when there are better bats available is a mistake, to me. But Byrnes (should) know what he’s doing, as he’s helped put together one of the strongest farm systems in baseball.