The next two selections come at picks 74 and 84 for the San Diego Padres.
Pick number 74 comes from their recent trade with the Minnesota Twins for starting pitcher Phil Hughes.
At this point in the draft, anything is possible. Should the Padres grab high signability guys with at least one of their first two picks, they may be able to save a little money to throw towards their third pick, a high-upside prep player.
Nick Northcut, William Mason High School (Ohio)
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Northcut is committed to Vanderbilt University, meaning he will be a tough sign. Will a signing bonus north of $1 million convince him to join the Padres? His primary position is third base. The guys over at 2080ball.com believe he is athletic enough to stick at the position if he can improve his arm strength.
Featuring polished bat speed and the ability to hit breaking pitches effectively, Northcut can also toe the rubber. He doesn’t project as a pitcher, but he can throw in the high-80s.
With plus-power and the ability to hit for a high average, Northcut will more than likely elect to attend Vanderbilt in hopes of boosting his draft stock down the road. Can a big signing bonus and the prospect of playing in the top farm system in baseball sway the young man?
RHP Zack Hess, LSU
Standing at 6’6″ and over 210 pounds, Hess is a sophomore at LSU that moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation this season. As a reliever, Hess owns an upper-90s fastball and one of the best sliders in the draft. He doesn’t have a strong third pitch, other than a fringe changeup.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline believes that Hess could be the first player in this draft class to reach the major leagues, should he be converted back to a reliever.
OF Alex McKenna, Cal Poly
McKenna is a centerfielder who appears destined to become a third or fourth round pick, however, he’s one of the bigger sleeper prospects in the early rounds of the 2018 draft.
Looking over the list of players already discussed here, there’s no speed among the hitters. McKenna brings plus-speed and the ability to stick at centerfield at the major league level. He doesn’t have a lot of power at the plate but does have line-drive power over the entire field.
His ceiling is that of a Travis Jankowski type player with a better stick.
OF DJ Artis, Liberty University
Some believe Artis could sneak into the first round of the draft but realistically, he’s a second-third round pick. Artis has plus-speed and one of the best batting eyes in the entire country.
A Freshman All-American in 2016 and Big South Player of the Year in 2017, Artis has posted an eye-opening K/BB ratio each of the past three seasons.
2016: 52 walks, 28 strikeouts
2017: 62 walks, 30 strikeouts
2018: 51 walks, 46 strikeouts
Standing under six feet tall, Artis has a very low, crouching batting stance. It’s unorthodox but he’s a pesky hitter with elite speed, graded as high as a 65.
While this list discusses a lot of college talent, don’t be surprised to see more high-upside prep players make their way into the Padres’ organization. The lower minor league affiliates are home to many of the youngest players at their respective levels, hence the higher focus on more advanced college players in this wish list.
Make sure you tune in to the MLB draft June 4-6. Be sure to check back here after the draft where we will have a complete recap with notes on every single pick of the San Diego Padres.