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Offense at forefront of Padres' Draft plans

The Padres have scuffled this season on offense, and though there's no telling what holes the team will have to fill when prospects from this year's First-Year Player Draft make it to the big leagues, it's clear that the team's front office is currently on the lookout for hitting talent.

For the second year in a row, the Padres selected position players with five of their first six picks, including an athletic shortstop and a power-hitting outfielder in the first two rounds.

Trea Turner, San Diego's first-round pick at No. 13 overall, is a talented shortstop prospect out of NC State who stole 26 bases in 54 games while also leading the Wolfpack in home runs (8) for the second year in a row. He hits for average (.321) and also exhibits impressive patience at the plate as NC State's leader in on-base percentage (.418).

The most promising prospect might be second-round selection Michael Gettys, an outfielder out of Gainesville (Ga.) High School, whom San Diego general manager Josh Byrnes compared to Mike Trout.

Though one shouldn't expect Gettys to be an MVP contender within two years of being selected, as was Trout, Gettys is a five-tool player who was being considered by San Diego in the first round, so the front office is ecstatic that they were able to grab Gettys with the No. 51 pick.

"We thought it was a terrific outcome," said assistant GM of Player Personnel Chad MacDonald. "To get Turner and Gettys, two premium athletes who play in the middle of the field and can impact the game on both sides of the ball, is great."

In the 28th round, the Padres also picked another "shortstop" whose selection made considerable social media waves -- Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (No. 837 overall). Manziel became just the fourth player to be drafted after winning the Heisman Trophy, joining Mike Garrett, Bo Jackson and Charlie Ward.

Last April, Manziel told the Associated Press, "I do miss [baseball]. I would love to play. But I chose a different path. Football became center stage in my life when I always thought I would play baseball."

A year ago, Manziel participated in batting practice and threw out the first pitch at Petco Park. It seems unlikely that his MLB affiliation will go far beyond that, but he now at least has the choice to become a two-sport star if he chooses to sign with the Padres and play in the Minor Leagues during the NFL offseason.

"[Manziel's] football career is certainly the priority, but you never know," said general manager Josh Byrnes. "It doesn't hurt to sort of formalize the relationship and see what happens."

Overall, San Diego showed a preference for college players over high school prospects. In the first 18 rounds, the Padres selected just two prep players -- Geddys and Northwestern Regional HS (CT) catcher Zach Risedorf, whom San Diego picked in the sixth round (No. 177 overall).

Perhaps the most accomplished collegiate player chosen was RHP Zech Lemond, who in his junior year broke the single-season saves record (14) for Rice, one of the NCAA's most historically successful programs. After starting 2014 as the Owls' closer, he moved into the rotation midseason while still exhibiting the mid-90s fastball that made him a lights-out reliever. In five starts spanning 36 innings, Lemond went 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA and 36 strikeouts.

After Lemond was the only pitcher San Diego chose in the first six rounds, the Padres went heavy on arms for the rest of their selections. They picked 17 over the next 20 rounds, including 13 consecutive pitchers from the 14th to the 26th round.

"You can't ever have too many arms," MacDonald said. "We take a couple guys who were starters for their clubs and all of a sudden you move them to the bullpen and their stuff plays up a little bit."

A prime candidate for that would be Logan Jernigan, a 15th round pick, who will be joining his NC State teammate Turner in the Padres' organization. Jernigan was the No. 2 starter in the Wolfpack's rotation behind Carlos Rodon (who went No. 3 overall to the White Sox) and exhibited a mid-90s fastball to go along with a curveball and changeup.

Jernigan actually outperformed Rodon for the first month of the collegiate season, recording a 0.73 ERA with 21 strikeouts and 11 walks in 23 2/3 innings in his first four starts. He ended the season with a 3.90 ERA, however, and concerns over his control (44 walks and 14 hit batters in 67 innings) dropped him down in the Draft.

With their final pick, San Diego drafted highly touted prep catcher Bryce Carter (Cascia Hall HS, Okla.) in the 40th round (No. 1,197 overall). Carter is regarded as an athletic catcher with good projectionable power, but fell to the final round because he is supposedly a solid commit to Stanford.

Carter would follow in the footsteps of another Oklahoma native if he did end up playing in Palo Alto -- Padres VP of professional scouting A.J. Hinch.

"Yeah, I don't know if that was a coincidence or not," MacDonald said. "He's a good player. I don't know if we'll be able to sign him, but it's good to keep relationships going."

Will Laws is an associate reporter for
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