The San Diego Padres first draft pick of the 2015 MLB Draft did not pan out. We look at redrafting the second round and what could have been.
AJ Preller’s first draft as general manager of the San Diego Padres could not have gotten off to a worse start. Without a first-round pick for the first time since 1992, it was already an uphill battle for a team that finished 77-85 the year prior. The Padres watched 50 picks evaporate from the draft board before having a chance to make their first selection.
Round 2, 51st overall: Austin Smith, RHP
And with the 51st overall pick, the Padres tabbed right-hander Austin Smith as a rotation asset of the future. The 6-foot 4, 250-pound hurler from Park Vista Community High School was one of the most highly-touted pitching prospects in the state of Florida. But Smith posted a 5.26 ERA in 25 appearances – including 15 starts – for Single-A Fort Wayne in 2016, and has been converted to relief since the middle of the 2017 season.
He made 21 appearances for High-A in 2018 but after posting a 7.56 ERA, Smith spent all of 2019 back in Fort Wayne. His ceiling appears to be a back end of the bullpen guy, but with an already crowded pen at the big league level, it’s difficult to envision where he plugs in within the next couple of seasons. And that’s assuming he doesn’t have any more setbacks along the way either.
Round 2, Re-Draft: Brady Singer, RHP
Drafted just five spots after Smith, Singer was considered to be one of the best high school pitching prospects. After concerns over his medicals impeded the Blue Jays from signing him, Singer was a star at the University of Florida, posting a 2.55 ERA in 17 starts with a strikeout per inning while helping the Gators win the first College World Series title.
Grabbed by the Kansas City Royals with the 18th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, Singer was projected to be part of the team’s Opening Day rotation this year. The 23-year-old posted a 2.85 ERA in 26 starts between two levels of Royals’ minor league affiliates last season and was recently pegged as the 59th best prospect in the game.
Identifying the fit
Given the uncertainty not only with the fifth starter in the Padres’ rotation but also the long-term health of guys like Garrett Richards and Dinelson Lamet, Singer would have provided a solid insurance plan. One that also includes the likes of MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patino, Adrian Morejon, and potentially Michel Baez.
The drafting of Singer wouldn’t change the plans of selecting Gore in 2017, but it would likely alter the intentions of making a trade for Zach Davies and Trent Grisham. Perhaps the latter comes over in a separate deal, but it’s difficult to speculate on that. Still, could you imagine a future rotation of Chris Paddack, Lamet, Gore, Patino, and Singer?