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Padres used Draft to pick interesting prospects

'Physicality' is a word used by scouting director Conner

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Honestly, you never know how good a Draft is until five or six years after the Draft.

The players drafted this week won't likely reach the Major Leagues until 2018 at the earliest. And 2020 is when the Padres really know what they've reaped from this Draft.

But I like what the Padres did with this Draft despite having had to give up their first two picks and having no selection before the 51st overall selection.

They went after some players with high ceilings - opting in some cases for potential over production. And they went big in terms of size.

Eleven of the 23 pitchers drafted by the Padres are 6-foot-4 or taller with four going 6-foot-7 or taller. They also drafted a 6-foot-6, 256-pound first baseman (Brad Zunica in the 15th round) and 6-foot-4 catcher Austin Allen in the fourth.

'It was not exactly by design," said Padres Scouting Director Mark Conner. "Some of the guys we liked are bigger guys and they just happened to fall into place when our time came to pick. When we were going through and scouting, it was not just the skill set . . . it was physicality and the skill set."

On the pitching side, the Padres took a lot of bigger prospects with good arms. Again, "physicality."

Conner labeled second-round pick Austin Smith (a 6-foot-4 pitcher from Park Vista Community High in Boynton Beach, Fla., third-round pick Jacob Nix (a 6-foot-4 pitcher from IMG Academy in Florida) and center-fielder Josh Magee (a fifth-round pick from Frankinton High in Louisiana) as "quality prospects."

One intriguing pick is another center fielder. Chris Chatfield from Spoto High in Florida dropped to the 23rd round because of a strong college commitment. But Conner believes he might be signable (remember, Austin Hedges had a strong college commitment when he signed).

As for darkhorses - or diamonds in the rough -- in the Draft, Conner identified right-handed pitcher Brett Kennedy (11th round, Fordham University), left-handed pitcher William Headean (13th round, Illinois State), right-handed pitcher Nick Monroe (21st round, North Carolina-Wilmington), second baseman Tyler Moore (29th round, Southern California), right-handed pitcher Lew Distacio (32nd round, University of Rhode Island) and third baseman Ty France (34th round, San Diego State).

"Kennedy has good arm action," said Conner. "He throws a lot of strikes. He was a little under the radar, a good scouting pick. He knows how to pitch.

"Headen has a big body and throws fairly easy. His competitive side is a plus. France plays some first base at times. Moore can play first as well. Monroe throws hard, to 95 (mph). Distacio has good arm action and a good delivery."

Of course, the Draft is just part of the player procurement program. The Padres also figure to be active in the international market and Tuesday made another important announcement that got lost in the Draft news.

The Padres have named Acey Kohrogi as an advisor of their Pacific Rim operations. During his time with the Dodgers, Kohrogi played a major role in the signings of Hideo Nomo, Chan Ho Park, Takashi Saito, Hiroki Kuroda and Hong-Chih Kuo.

From the scorecard

• Second baseman Jedd Gyorko hadn't started a game this month when he was optioned to Triple-A El Paso on Wednesday. He was 1-for-6 in June with four strikeouts. He has made 14 starts at second in May and one as a designated hitter. He hit .135 in April and .279 in May with four doubles, two homers and eight RBIs. But he also struck out 19 times in 61 at-bats. Overall, he was hitting .210 with two homers, 11 RBIs and 35 strikeouts in 119 at-bats. His on-base percentage was .282 and his slugging percentage was .311.

• Right-handed reliever Kevin Quackenbush was also struggling recently before being optioned to Triple-A El Paso. Over his last seven appearances, Quackenbush had allowed four earned runs on 13 hits and three walks with four strikeouts in a total of six innings - driving his earned run average up from 1.88 to 3.10. Quackenbush had gone from working late innings in winnable games to a middle-inning role.

• Catcher Austin Hedges is hitless in his last 16 at-bats. He is hitting .083.

• Right-handed starter Tyson Ross made an eighth straight start Wednesday night without allowing a home run. He has worked 49 straight innings without allowing a homer. Wednesday also marked the eighth straight start - and 12th time in 13 starts this season - that Ross allowed three or fewer runs in a start.

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