Pitching the Padres' Draft focus on Day 1

July 18th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Three picks might not qualify as a trend, but there’s at least a commonality to the Padres’ selections on Day 1 of the 2022 MLB Draft on Sunday.

The club went after pitching with plenty of room for growth.

The selections on Day 1:

• No. 15 (first round): Right-hander Dylan Lesko, Buford High School in Buford, Ga.
• No. 39 (Competitive Balance Round A): Left-hander Robby Snelling, McQueen High School in Reno, Nev.
• No. 53 (second round): Right-hander Adam Mazur, University of Iowa

Lesko, 18, was among the top Draft prospects this year before dropping because he underwent Tommy John surgery in April. With the best changeup in the Draft class, per MLB Pipeline, and a fastball that already touches 97 mph, he has a strong foundation for development after his rehab.

Snelling, 18, was a Division I prospect as a football linebacker and he pondered playing both sports in college before committing to LSU as a baseball player only. He, too, boasts a 97 mph fastball and he has plenty of room to grow after concentrating on baseball development full time.

Mazur, 21, is a late bloomer. He didn’t pitch at all until his junior year at Woodbury High School in Minnesota. He started his college career at South Dakota State University, which didn’t have a pitching coach on staff for part of his time there. With a five-pitch mix, Mazur blossomed in the Cape Cod League over the summer of 2021, before he transferred to Iowa and became the Big Ten pitcher of the year in ’22.

The Padres have a bonus pool of $10,088,900, 11th-highest in the Majors. That should help as they try to lure Lesko away from Vanderbilt University and Snelling away from LSU.

Though the Saturday night lights of Death Valley are not in play for Snelling, he has longstanding ties to Tigers baseball coach Jay Johnson, who got to know Snelling and his family while serving as the University of Nevada baseball coach from 2014-15.

“Robby, for us, was the highest-rated makeup kid on our board,” Padres amateur scouting director Chris Kemp said. “His background, the athleticism. His family background -- dad’s a high school football coach, his uncle’s a football coach. Robby grew up playing everything. His competitive nature, just everything about Robby -- the way he’s wired, the way he’s built -- really intrigued us.”

The Padres have a long way to go to match the Angels’ all-pitchers Draft of last year, but it certainly can’t hurt to replenish the ranks. At the big league level, Joe Musgrove, Sean Manaea and Mike Clevinger are potential free agents after this season. Yu Darvish and Blake Snell are signed only through 2023.

“Every year in the Draft, you always try to pick the guys you think are going to be best for you now and in the future,” president of baseball operations and general manager A.J. Preller said. “You don’t want to be shortsighted. It’s, ‘Who’s going to best for us in the next five-plus seasons?’ There’s really nothing different in that process.”

Day 2 of the Draft gets underway at 11 a.m. PT on Monday, with Rounds 3-10 on the slate. The final day, featuring Rounds 11-20, begins at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.