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Padres ready to add to stacked Minors system

MLB.com @AJCassavell

LOS ANGELES -- The Padres' farm system is the best in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, and the past three Draft classes of general manager A.J. Preller and scouting director Mark Conner have played no small part in establishing that high standard.

The 2018 Draft begins today with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 3 p.m. PT. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 9:30 a.m. PT. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at 9 a.m. PT.

LOS ANGELES -- The Padres' farm system is the best in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, and the past three Draft classes of general manager A.J. Preller and scouting director Mark Conner have played no small part in establishing that high standard.

The 2018 Draft begins today with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 3 p.m. PT. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 9:30 a.m. PT. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at 9 a.m. PT.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

Go to MLB.com/draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.

Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Padres, whose first selection is the seventh overall pick.

In about 50 words
For Conner and Preller, it's their fourth Draft together at the helm of the Padres. They're already beginning to see the fruits of their labor. Early 2016 picks Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi have found places in the starting rotation, while Phil Maton (2015) has become a bullpen asset. The Padres will pick seventh, 38th and 74th on Day 1 this year. They own picks in both Competitive Balance rounds but have no second-round pick, which they forfeited when they signed Eric Hosmer during the offseason. (They acquired the 74th pick in a trade with Minnesota on Sunday.)

Video: NYM@SD: Lucchesi strikes out 6, allows just 4 hits

• Padres Top 30 Prospects

The scoop
It's the third straight year in which the Padres own a top 10 pick, having selected righty Cal Quantrill in 2016 and lefty MacKenzie Gore in '17. Entering this year's Draft, they're both ranked among the top 40 prospects in baseball. Don't be surprised if the Padres lean toward another high-upside arm. They've been linked with high school left-hander Matthew Liberatore from Mountain Ridge High School in Arizona.

Video: Rundown: Jonathan Mayo on high school pitchers

First-round buzz
Callis has the Padres selecting Liberatore, and that move would certainly fit their recent philosophy. According to Callis, Liberatore is one of four prep pitching prospects in play for the Friars, alongside right-handers Carter Stewart (Florida) and Cole Winn (Orange, Calif.) and left-hander Ryan Weathers (Tennessee).

Video: PDP: Matthew Liberatore from Peoria, Ariz.

Money matters
Each team has a bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds. (The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool.) The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $125,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total. Teams that exceed their limits will be taxed, with penalties varying based on the percentage by which that limit is exceeded. This year, the Padres have a pool of $10,462,200 to spend, including a suggested figure of $5,226,500 for their first pick.

Shopping list
The system is already loaded with arms -- specifically left-handers -- but that won't stop Preller and Co. from going that route again. Organizationally, if there's an area that needs to be shored up, it's probably the outfield. The Padres' farm is overflowing with arms and infielders, but it lacks a depth of big-time power hitters.

Trend watch
The Padres insist they're merely taking the best players on the board. It just so happens those best players have skewed toward pitching. In each of the last three seasons they've used their highest pick on a pitcher. During that span, they've spent 21 of their 33 picks in the top 10 rounds on pitching.

Rising fast
When the Padres drafted center fielder Buddy Reed out of Florida in 2016, they knew they'd selected a defensive standout with remarkable athleticism. His bat was a question. In his first two professional seasons, Reed posted a .675 OPS, but he's turned things around at the plate this year. Entering play Sunday, Reed was batting .350/.385/.594 with eight homers and 23 stolen bases for Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore.

Cinderella story
Adam Cimber toiled in the Minors for five seasons following his selection by the Padres in the ninth round of the 2013 Draft. The sidearming right-hander overhauled his pitching philosophy before the 2017 season, and he's flourished since. Cimber posted a 2.90 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A last season. He was a surprise addition to the roster before Opening Day, and he's thrived in his first big league stint, having posted a 2.81 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings.

Video: SD@COL: Cimber fans Tauchman to retire the side

In the show
The rotation has already begun to feel the impact of the club's deep 2016 Draft class. Among all pitchers taken in that '16 Draft, Lauer and Lucchesi were the first two to arrive in the Majors. The active roster boasts four players taken by the Padres in past Drafts, including: Lauer, Cimber, Cory Spangenberg and Travis Jankowski. (Maton and Lucchesi are on the DL.)

Padres recent first-round picks
2017: LHP MacKenzie Gore (Class A Fort Wayne)
2016: RHP Cal Quantrill (Double-A San Antonio
2016: LHP Eric Lauer (Padres)
2016: 3B Hudson Potts (Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore)
2014: SS Trea Turner (Nationals)
2013: RF Hunter Renfroe (Padres, on DL)

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres