San Diego Padres Draft: Three gems with 34th overall pick

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

With all eyes on the eighth overall pick, the San Diego Padres will be able to find great value as well in round two of the MLB Draft.

While the San Diego Padres hold the eighth overall pick, they will be able to find terrific value in the second round, where they hold both the 34th and 45th overall picks. The team’s first-round is a sign of where the franchise currently stands but also holds much hope for where they want to go.

It has the potential to be a Mackenzie Gore-like selection that can completely change the direction of a baseball organization. And with the positional talent in this draft, they should be able to land one of the top college or high school arms in this class.

That said, when they close the book on Round One of the draft, another one will open in Round Two, where the Padres have the opportunity to continue to add to their highly-touted farm system. Let’s look at three players that they may consider with the 34th overall pick.

C.J. Van Eyk, Florida State

Van Eyk may very well end up sneaking into the first round to a team like the Dodgers, who hold the final pick. He was originally selected by the New York Mets in the 19th round of the 2017 MLB Draft but chose to play baseball at Florida State. As a true freshman, he made 19 appearances – including five starts – and struck out 71 batters in 56.2 innings.

He had the propensity to walk a few batters but cleaned that up in his sophomore year. In 2019, Van Eyk made 18 starts for the Seminoles and posted a 3.81 ERA while striking out 129 batters in 99.1 innings. Prior to the shutdown, he was off to a great start, posting a 1.31 ERA in his first four starts.

At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Van Eyk has three above-average pitches in his fastball that touches the mid-90s, a curveball that consistently sits in the high 70s, and a changeup that sits between the two. He reportedly has a slider as well, but the pitch remains to be a work in progress.

Justin Foscue, Mississippi State

Another first-round fringe player, Foscue experienced a monumental leap between his freshman and sophomore seasons. In 2018, he posted a .241/.332/.353 line with three home runs and 20 RBI with a 1:1 BB/K ratio. However, he participated in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League that summer – a wood-bat league – and posted a .913 OPS with two bombs and nine RBI in just 17 games.

That propelled him into a household name as a sophomore, where he posted a .331/.395/.564 line with 14 home runs and 60 RBI and, again, a 1:1 BB/K ratio. He was off to an even better start this year before the shutdown, which is promising for his future team.

Foscue has primarily played second and third base at Mississippi State, but his defense was shaky at best. He likely profiles as a corner outfielder but could stick on the infield if he improves his defense. Regardless of where plays, he already has a terrific approach at the plate.

Jeff Criswell, Michigan

Originally drafted in the 35th round by the hometown Detroit Tigers of the 2017 MLB Draft, Criswell pursued collegiate baseball at Michigan. He made all 24 appearances out of the bullpen as a true freshman, posting a 2.23 ERA while striking out 32 batters in 32.1 innings. He limited opponents to a .168 average but also posted a 5.3 BB/9.

He played in the Cape Cod League that summer, making ten appearances and striking out 18 batters in 18.1 innings. The following year, Criswell transitioned in the rotation making 22 appearances – including 17 starts – and struck out 116 batters in 106.0 innings. He posted a 2.72 ERA and limited batters to a .232 average while improving his walk rate to 4.2 BB/9.

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Like Van Eyk, Criswell has a three-pitch arsenal, including a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, but scouts consider his slider and changeup to be just average right now. Still, he profiles as a future starter in a rotation if he can command his pitches better.

We will have another post for three gems at the 45th overall pick, so stay tuned for that one.