A.J. Preller has overseen the San Diego Padres undertakings in the Major League Baseball draft since 2015, first as the general manager and now as president of baseball operations. His goal for this weekend’s festivities is to replenish the minor league talent pool.
Since 2021, Preller traded away seven of the Friars top 10 prospects to acquire Juan Soto and Joe Musgrove. It is the cost of trying to build a postseason contending roster. In last year’s draft, Preller selected four pitchers (Dylan Lesko, Robby Snelling, Adam Mazur, and Henry Williams) in the first 91 picks. And each has risen quickly through the system to earn the top spots in the Padres top 30 prospect rankings this season. No question, Lesko, Snelling, Mazur, and Williams are on the path to becoming major league pitchers in a few seasons.
The Friars have only two picks (25 and 96) in the first 100 selections of this year’s draft. They lost their second-and-fifth-round draft picks after signing Xander Bogearts to a free-agent deal last December. But the potential of these two picks should not be underestimated, as the Padres have a great chance of selecting a future major leaguer.
Why? Well the experts have deemed the 2023 draft class to have great depth. Partly, due to some of the players using the extra year of collegiate eligibility (COVID guidelines) to work on their game. And it should not take long for the first 100 prospects to thrive in the majors. Still, it is hard to project what direction the Padres are going in the first round. The hope is the player selected will be hanging their gear in a major league locker shortly.
Several mock drafts have projected the Friars selecting a position player with the 25th overall pick, but it is unsure if Preller will go the college route or choose a highly-touted prep player. The odds are good that he will remain using his successful formula of drafting the best player on the draft board.
Will this trend continue this Sunday? Here are three draft scenarios for the Padres:
Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland
Maryland shortstop Matt Shaw could fall into the Padres lap, as he has been tumbling on draft boards because of his defensive deficiencies in the field. Scouts love his prowess at the plate, which makes him the closest major-league ready hitter in this year's draft class. In three collegiate seasons, Shaw batted .320/.413/.623 and shown to have a keen eye. He patiently waits for his pitch. Too often, Shaw has turned a mistake pitch into an extra-base hit. If drafted, the Friars will look into a possible position change to help accelerate his progression to the majors.
Tommy Troy, SS, Stanford
Another collegiate player linked to the Padres is Stanford shortstop Tommy Troy. Scouts believe he has the prettiest right-handed swing in this year’s draft class. They project Troy to become a top power hitter once he develops upper-body strength. Last summer, he teased everyone with his hitting skills at the Cape Cod League. Troy batted .310/.386/.531 and showed great launch angles in 30 games. Keep an eye on him when the Padres go on the clock in the first round this Sunday. And do not be surprised if they select Troy and move him to the outfield. His arm and lateral footwork translate well to a corner outfield position.
George Lombard Jr., SS, Gulliver Prep (FL)
One of the top high school prep stars on the draft board is George Lombard Jr. of Gulliver Prep in Florida. He comes from baseball genes as his father (George Lombard Sr.), who was a top Atlanta Braves prospect in the late 1990s. The prep star is projected to be available when the Padres pick comes up in the first round this Sunday. Lombard Jr. is a promising young talent who will make a position switch once his professional career begins. Because of his tall (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) body frame, a move to third base seems logical for him. The odds are also high that once Lombard Jr. fills out, he should become one of top power hitters in baseball. Scouts love how he creates havoc during each at-bat. His production at the plate has put Lombard Jr. on the Padres radar.