Padres seek impact position players early in Draft
Front-office staff aims to end San Diego's first-round woes with right fit at No. 13
SAN DIEGO -- There have been far more first-round misses than hits for the Padres in the last decade, but assistant general manager of player personnel Chad MacDonald and scouting director Billy Gasparino are definite in their resolve to buck that trend.
Since 2004, only the Phillies have a lower combined WAR (wins above replacement) from the players they've selected in the first round (minus-2.1) than the Padres (2.9).
Of course, the Phillies spent most of the last decade drafting lower in the first round, the result of their five postseason berths, including their World Series in 2008.
Not that an entire Draft is judged on the first round alone, but the Padres didn't get anything from Matt Bush (No. 1 overall, 2004) or Donavan Tate (No. 3 overall, 2009).
That said, the Padres have still done a good job getting players to the big leagues in the last decade (51). They just have not made much of a high impact once they get there.
"I think we're all aware of the history here and what we need to do," Gasparino said. "No one puts more pressure on ourselves than us. We're putting as many resources as possible into this as we can. I really think our process is good and our resources to find the right guys are there."
This will be MacDonald's third Draft with the Padres and Gasparino's second in his current role and they feel that, drafting at No. 13 overall for the second time in as many years, they'll land the right player to get their Draft started.
"We're not sure who it's going to be yet, but comfortable we'll get someone we want at 13," Gasparino said.
MacDonald went heavy on arms in 2012 (three of the top four picks) and then on bats a year ago (six of top eight). This time around, don't be surprised at all if they jump on a college position player at No. 13.
"We have identified some position players in the college and high school ranks that we would like to get. We're going to target some bats and position players, but won't walk away from a guy who we think can be an impact arm," MacDonald said.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 3 p.m. PT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 4 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 9:30 a.m. PT on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
In about 50 words
The Padres went heavy on pitching, especially early, during the 2012 Draft. Then they spent six of their first eight picks on position players a year ago. They won't shy away from adding more quality arms to the system, but the organization will infuse the system with more position players.
Position players, anyone? The Padres, who don't have many position players with the potential for high impact, could stand to infuse their system with an advanced bat.
Finding it, however, isn't always easy.
"I think there are always more arms in the Draft that you like than bats," MacDonald said. "Hitting in the big leagues is tough and it's tough to evaluate [players]. There are fewer performers in the college ranks. Last year, we took three bats early on Day 1.
"We're going to target some bats and position players, but we won't walk away from a guy who we think can be an impact arm."
Don't be surprised at all if the Padres jump on a college bat with the No. 13 overall selection. Of course, there's no way of knowing how the first 12 picks will shake out, though the Padres have some players they have targeted in case they fall that far.
Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto, University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer and North Carolina State shortstop Trea Turner could be possibilities at No. 13, though many believe that Conforto and Turner will be gone by the time the Padres pick. Indiana University's Kyle Schwarber is another college bat who looks intriguing. He's a catcher, but his future could be elsewhere.
Padres bonus pool
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool.
The Padres have $6,098,600 to spend on their first 10 Draft picks. The pick value for their top pick, No. 13 overall, is $2.723 million.
Teams that cover over its allotted pool will be taxed at a high rate and, depending on how far they go over, could lose Draft picks.
The Padres, like every other Major League team, won't use the Draft to fill immediate need, though if, say, a college position player is there at No. 13 -- someone who could potentially move faster through the system -- that might be tough to pass on.
Currently, the organization, through trades, international signings and drafting and developing players have filled its system with arms. The need moving forward is to add as many quality position players as possible. The team won't reach -- and wouldn't bypass another talented arm with upside -- but the emphasis will be on the position-player side of things.
This will be the third Draft that MacDonald has presided over -- and the second Draft for Gasparino. The organization will again focus on finding impact players, most notably position players to help fill a farm system that is mostly devoid of them.
MacDonald's first two Drafts have certainly reflected that approach -- regardless of position. The Padres went heavy on pitching in 2012, but landed outfielder Hunter Renfroe with their first pick in 2013. He's off to a fast start and could eventually land at Double-A San Antonio by season's end.
The system is in good shape in terms of pitching -- I know, you can never have too much -- so don't be at all surprised if the Padres load up on position players.
* RECENT DRAFT HISTORY *
Catcher Austin Hedges (No. 82 overall, 2011 Draft) is more than holding his own in Double-A and could probably, defensively at least, catch in the big leagues now. Another 2011 Draft pick, right-handed pitcher Matt Wisler (seventh round), who started last season in the California League, was recently sent to Triple-A. He's not far off.
Shortstop Jace Peterson (No. 58 overall, 2011) came up to the big leagues for a brief time earlier in the season to cover for injuries and is currently in Triple-A. The club thinks highly of him, too. Pitcher Joe Ross, who just turned 21, is off to a fast start at Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and could end up in the Texas League before too long. His older brother, Tyson, is on the big league roster.
With pitcher Brad Brach having moved on to the Orioles and Kyle Blanks traded to the A's earlier in May, the Padres are without any true Cinderella story guys, as both players were drafted after the 40th round.
That said, the Padres feel they got a steal in the 18th-round of the 2008 Draft when they picked local guy, Nick Vincent, who is from nearby Ramona. In his first 96 big league games, Vincent had a 2.27 ERA with a 6.3 hits-per-nine inning mark. He also has a knack for stranding inherited baserunners.
In The Show
Players on the current 25-man roster who have been drafted and developed by the Padres include: RHPs Kevin Quackenbush, Vincent and Tim Stauffer, second baseman Jedd Gyorko, third baseman Chase Headley, first baseman/outfielder Tommy Medica and outfielder Will Venable. RHP Dale Thayer signed as a free agent with the team in 2002.
The Padres recent top picks
2013: Hunter Renfroe, OF, Class A Lake Elsinore
2012: Max Fried, LHP, Class A Fort Wayne
2011: Cory Spangenberg, 2B, Double-A San Antonio
2010: Karsten Whitson, RHP, didn't sign