SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' history of top Draft picks is littered with major hits, major misses and some all-time “what-ifs?”
Here’s the full list of San Diego’s top overall selection in each year’s Draft, dating back to the franchise’s first season in 1969. (In years with more than one first-round pick, only the top pick is listed.)
2021: Jackson Merrill, SS, Severna Park (Md.) High School (No. 27)
A 6-foot-3 left-handed hitter, Merrill was the 2021 Capital Gazette Player of the Year in Maryland. He tied his school record with 13 home runs and batted .500 with 39 RBIs. Merrill led his high school team to a 17-1 record and a runner-up finish in the 4A state championship -- and he did so while playing through pain after spraining his ankle midseason.
2020: Robert Hassell III, OF, Independence (Tenn.) HS (No. 8)
Hassell spent his first professional season at the team’s alternate site during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, and he was a standout there. He began his Minor League career at Low-A Lake Elsinore in ’21.
2019: CJ Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity Catholic (Ga.) HS (No. 6)
Abrams skyrocketed toward the top of prospect rankings with his elite wheels and bat-to-ball skills. He impressed the Padres, too, during 2021 Spring Training, before starting the season at Double-A San Antonio.
2018: Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto (Tenn.) HS (No. 7)
Weathers’ path to the big leagues was a quick one. He became the first player in Padres history to make his Major League debut in a playoff game, tossing 1 1/3 no-hit frames against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the 2020 NLDS.
2017: MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville (N.C.) HS (No. 3)
Gore, MLB Pipeline’s top-rated pitching prospect, posted high school numbers that were downright absurd at the time of his drafting. He went 11-0 with a 0.19 ERA during his senior season.
2016: Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford (No. 8)
The son of former big leaguer Paul Quantrill, Cal was coming off Tommy John surgery when the Padres selected him with the first of their three first rounders in 2016. Quantrill spent parts of two seasons in San Diego before he was dealt to Cleveland in the Mike Clevinger trade.
2015: Austin Smith, RHP, Park Vista (Fla.) HS (No. 51)
The Padres didn’t have a first-round selection in 2015 after an offseason spending spree saw them land free-agent right-hander James Shields. They used their second-round pick on Smith, who hasn’t yet reached the big leagues.
2014: Trea Turner, SS, North Carolina State (No. 13)
Turner was drafted by the Padres and promptly dealt to the Nationals in the three-team trade that sent Wil Myers from Tampa Bay to San Diego.
2013: Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State (No. 13)
Renfroe had big-time power in college, and he brought that big-time power to the big leagues, homering 89 times for the Padres before he was sent to Tampa Bay in the Tommy Pham/Jake Cronenworth trade during the 2019-20 offseason.
2012: Max Fried, LHP, Harvard Westlake (Calif.) HS (No. 7)
Fried, dealt to Atlanta in the deal that brought Justin Upton to San Diego, was high school teammates with big league right-handers Jack Flaherty and Lucas Giolito.
2011: Cory Spangenberg, 2B, Indian River State College (No. 10)
Spangenberg had a decent five-year career with the Padres, hitting .256 with a .704 OPS. But this Draft class was absolutely loaded, and the Padres selected him just after Francisco Lindor and Javier Báez and one pick ahead of George Springer.
2010: Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley (Fla.) HS (No. 9)
Whitson didn’t sign with the Padres, instead choosing to play college baseball at the University of Florida. He would play only one season of pro ball after being selected by the Red Sox four years later.
2009: Donavan Tate, OF, Cartersville (Ga.) HS (No. 3)
Tate’s baseball career never took off, as he was limited by injuries and off-field issues. But Tate would return to college to play football at the University of Arizona.
2008: Allan Dykstra, 1B, Wake Forest (No. 23)
A San Diego native, Dykstra was traded two years after being selected by the Padres in 2008. He played 13 games for the Rays in ’15.
2007: Nick Schmidt, LHP, Arkansas (No. 23)
Schmidt posted a 4.63 ERA across seven Minor League seasons, but never reached the Majors.
2006: Matt Antonelli, 3B, Wake Forest (No. 17)
Antonelli would play a total of 21 big league games, all for the Padres in 2008. His career was cut short due to injuries.
2005: Cesar Carrillo, RHP, Miami (FL) (No. 18)
Carrillo made three appearances for the 2009 Padres, posting a 13.06 ERA. He would later spend time in the Phillies, Astros, Tigers and D-backs organizations before a notable career in the Mexican League.
2004: Matt Bush, SS, Mission Bay (Calif.) HS (No. 1)
Bush’s Padres tenure was plagued with off-field and legal trouble and he was released in 2009, one of baseball’s biggest busts in the No. 1 overall slot. Bush endured further legal trouble after his release, and spent time in prison after a DUI. Bush would return to baseball and reached the Majors with Texas as a right-handed pitcher.
2003: Tim Stauffer, RHP, Richmond (No. 4)
Stauffer signed for a bonus well below what a traditional No. 4 pick would receive because he disclosed that he’d been battling shoulder soreness, which turned out to be a joint issue. Still, he would pitch 10 seasons in the big leagues, including nine for the Padres during which he posted a 3.87 ERA.
2002: Khalil Greene, SS, Clemson (No. 13)
Prior to the arrival of Fernando Tatis Jr., Greene was arguably the greatest shortstop in Padres history. He batted .248/.304/.427 across six seasons in San Diego and is still the team’s all-time home run leader among shortstops with 84. He helped lead the Padres to consecutive division titles in 2005-06.
2001: Jake Gautreau, 3B, Tulane (No. 14)
Gautreau spent seven seasons in the Minors racking up 81 home runs, but never reached the big leagues
2000: Mark Phillips, LHP, Hanover (Pa.) HS, (No. 9)
Phillips spent four seasons in the Minors with a 4.34 ERA.
1999: Vince Faison, OF, Toombs County (Ga.) HS (No. 20)
Faison was selected with the compensation pick the Padres received for the Dodgers’ signing of Kevin Brown that offseason. He posted a .704 OPS across nine seasons in the Minors and climbed as high as Triple-A Tacoma in 2004.
1998: Sean Burroughs, 3B, Wilson (Calif.) HS (No. 9)
One of the game’s top prospects upon his arrival, Burroughs spent seven seasons in the big leagues including four with the Padres. He hit a walk-off single against Giants reliever David Aardsma in the first game ever played at Petco Park.
1997: Kevin Nicholson, SS, Stetson (No. 27)
Nicholson played 37 games for the Padres in 2000, tallying a single career home run – a solo shot off Ron Villone in Cincinnati.
1996: Matt Halloran, SS, Chancellor (Va.) HS (No. 15)
Halloran spent six seasons in the Minors between the Padres’ and Rangers’ systems, batting .219 with a .571 OPS.
1995: Ben Davis, C, Malvern (Pa.) HS (No. 2)
Davis was a solid big league catcher for seven seasons, but he’s perhaps most beloved among Padres fans for his controversial bunt single to break up Curt Schilling’s perfect game in the eighth inning.
1994: Dustin Hermanson, RHP, Kent State (No. 3)
Hermanson spent two seasons with the Padres before he was dealt to Montreal for second baseman Quilvio Veras. In 12 big league seasons, Hermanson posted a 4.21 ERA.
1993: Derrek Lee, 1B, El Camino (Calif.) HS (No. 14)
Lee went on to an underrated excellent 15 year big league career, during which he racked up 34.5 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference, and earned a 2003 World Series ring with the Marlins. The Padres shipped Lee to Florida in the December 1997 deal that netted Kevin Brown.
1992: Todd Helton, 1B, Knoxville Central (Tenn.) HS (No. 55)
Yep, the very same Todd Helton who tormented Padres pitching for 17 seasons with the Rockies. The Padres didn’t have a first-round selection in 1992, but they made a pretty good choice with their second-rounder -- only to see Helton decide to play football at the University of Tennessee instead. He would share a quarterback room with Peyton Manning while also playing baseball before he was selected eighth overall by the Rockies in 1995.
1991: Joey Hamilton, RHP, Georgia Southern (No. 8)
Hamilton burst onto the scene with one of the best rookie seasons for a Padres pitcher in franchise history in 1994, and he was an integral part of the team’s ’98 National League pennant. Hamilton spent five seasons with the Padres, posting a 3.83 ERA.
1990: Robbie Beckett, LHP, McCallum (Texas) HS (No. 25)
Beckett boasted an electric fastball in the high 90s but never quite figured out the command side of things. He walked more than a hitter per inning in the Padres’ system, before he was claimed off waivers by the Rockies in 1996. Beckett made seven big league appearances for Colorado.
1989: Ken Felder, OF, Niceville (Fla.) HS (No. 46)
Felder opted to attend college at Florida State rather than sign with the Padres. He was drafted by the Brewers in the first round three years later and would play five seasons in the Minors.
1988: Andy Benes, RHP, Evansville (No. 1)
Benes spent seven seasons with the Padres amassing 69 wins and a 3.57 ERA, and is regarded as one of the top right-handed starting pitchers in Padres history. He was dealt to Seattle at the 1995 Trade Deadline.
1987: Kevin Garner, RHP, Texas (No. 10)
Garner played seven Minor League seasons with 92 home runs.
1986: Thomas Howard, OF, Ball State (No. 11)
Howard played three seasons with the Padres and 11 seasons in the Majors with six different clubs. Howard’s best career numbers would come across four seasons in Cincinnati.
1985: Joey Cora, SS, Vanderbilt (No. 23)
Cora only played three seasons with the Padres before he was dealt to the White Sox on the eve of the 1991 season. He went on to a solid 11-year big league career, mostly as a second baseman, and he was named an All-Star with Seattle in 1997.
1984: Shane Mack, OF, UCLA (No. 11)
The Padres would lose Mack to the Twins in the 1989 Rule 5 Draft. He spent nine years in the big leagues with an .821 OPS and was a key contributor during Minnesota’s 1991 title run.
1983: Ray Hayward, LHP, Oklahoma (No. 10)
Heyward pitched only seven games across two seasons with the Padres, before he was dealt ahead of the 1988 season as an extra piece headed to the Cubs in the Goose Gossage trade.
1982: Jimmy Jones, RHP, Thomas Jefferson (Texas) HS (No. 3)
Jones had a solid eight-year career in the big leagues, pitching the first three of those seasons with the Padres, and he’s currently a pitching coach for the Padres in the Minors. Arguably his best start as a Padre was his first. Jones pitched a complete-game one-hitter in his big league debut.
1981: Kevin McReynolds, OF, Arkansas (No. 6)
Quite a Draft for the Padres in 1981. McReynolds played four seasons for the Padres and was a key contributor on the team’s run to the ‘84 pennant. Of course, two rounds later, the Padres selected a young outfielder from San Diego State named Tony Gwynn.
1980: Jeff Pyburn, OF, Georgia (No. 5)
Pyburn spent three seasons in the Minors, climbing as high as Triple-A Hawaii. He posted a .295 average in those three seasons but never reached the bigs.
1979: Joe Lansford, 1B, Wilcox (Calif.) HS (No. 14)
The brother of longtime big leaguer Carney Lansford, Joe played parts of two seasons with the Padres in 1982-83. His only career home run came against Mark Davis, who would go on to win a Cy Young Award with the Padres six years later.
1978: Andy Hawkins, RHP, Midway (Texas) HS (No. 5)
Hawkins played 10 years in the big leagues, including seven with San Diego, but he’s perhaps best known as the only pitcher in Padres history to win a World Series game – Game 2 of the 1984 Fall Classic against the Tigers.
1977: Brian Greer, OF, Sonora (Calif.) HS (No. 8)
Greer holds the distinction of the youngest Padre to ever receive an at-bat. He played one game in 1977 at 18 years, 122 days old. But Greer would appear in only four more big league games, all with the Padres.
1976: Bob Owchinko, LHP, Eastern Michigan (No. 5)
Owchinko played 10 seasons in the big leagues, including four with the Padres in which he posted an ERA of precisely 4.00. He was dealt to Cleveland for Jerry Mumphrey in 1980 and was later dealt from Cleveland to Pittsburgh in the deal that sent Bert Blyleven and Manny Sanguillen the other way.
1975: Mike Lentz, LHP, Juanita (Wash.) HS (No. 2)
Lentz pitched four seasons in the low Minor Leagues with a 5.05 ERA.
1974: Bill Almon, SS, Brown (No. 1)
Almon had a solid 15-year big league career, spread across seven teams, but he spent more time with the Padres than any other team. His best season came in 1981 with the White Sox, where he garnered MVP votes.
1973: Dave Winfield, OF, Minnesota (No. 4)
Without question the Padres’ best first-round pick of all-time, Winfield played 22 seasons in the big leagues including the first eight with the Padres. He was the first player inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Padre, and Winfield’s 32 bWAR with San Diego is second most in franchise history. Only Tony Gwynn (a third-round pick) had more.
1972: Dave Roberts, 3B, Oregon (No. 1)
One of three different players in Padres history of the same name, “Dave Roberts the third baseman” played six solid seasons in San Diego, then another four split among Texas, Philadelphia and Houston. He is one of a small handful of players to be drafted and begin his career immediately in the big leagues.
1971: Jay Franklin, RHP, James Madison (Va.) HS (No. 2)
Franklin made three big league appearances, all for the Padres in 1971. He surrendered Hank Aaron’s 638th home run.
1970: Mike Ivie, C, Walker (Ga.) HS (No. 1)
Ivie had a strong 11-year career in the big leagues, the first five of which came with the Padres. He batted .291 in 140 games with the Padres in 1976, but was traded to the Giants for Derrel Thomas ahead of the ’78 season.
1969: Randy Elliott, 1B, Adolfo Camarillo (Calif.) HS (No. 24)
The first Padre ever taken in the amateur Draft, Elliott played in parts of two seasons for San Diego, posting a .207 average in 27 games.