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Padres have different mindset when drafting

Padres have different mindset when drafting
SAN DIEGO -- If there was any particular theme to the Padres' approach to the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, it was their not-so-subtle interest in selecting "young, projectable arms."

After all, of the 44 players the Padres drafted, half were pitchers.

Few of those pitchers come more projectable than the left arm belonging to the Padres' final pick of the Draft, their 40th-round selection -- Terrance Owens from the University of Toledo.

But if you're looking for background on Owens, don't bother looking up his baseball statistics for Toledo. You'll be better off heading to the Rockets' two-deep football roster, as Owens could end up as the Rockets' starting quarterback.

Owens told the Toledo Blade newspaper he was stunned to hear that he was selected in the Draft, not just by the Padres but by any team.

"I was just surprised. Kind of confused, really," said Owens, who pitched for Glenville High in Cleveland, though he hasn't done so in college.

Still, Owens' coach at Toledo, Matt Campbell, sounded as if he understood what the Padres were trying to do with the low-risk, high-upside pick.

"With his background in baseball and seeing how live his arm is, you can see where an organization would use a late-round Draft pick on someone like that," Campbell told the newspaper.

That's precisely what the Padres were thinking when they drafted Owens. He's 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, he can run well, has a strong left arm and they believe he's oozing with upside.

These aren't just the kind of players the Padres want to draft. But it's also the kind of player the organization is drafting.

"Every organization looks for athletes ... but we put even more emphasis on it," said Padres director of scouting Jaron Madison.

During the winter, the Padres gathered their scouts for a meeting that was also attended by hitting coach Phil Plantier and manager Bud Black, as well as front-office special assistants and former big leaguers Mark Loretta and Brad Ausmus.

"They talked about what works in the big leagues," Madison said. "All of the guys had the same thought -- athletes. It's really been a big emphasis of what we're looking for here. We're constantly looking for players who have natural athleticism."

Enter Owens, a player who floated on the radar of Padres assistant general manager of player personnel Chad MacDonald last fall -- as he happened to be somewhere when a Toledo football game was playing on a nearby television.

"That night, I was at dinner with some of my staff, and we were watching Toledo play," said MacDonald, who was still the Mets' scouting director at the time. "The QB stood out. He was athletic, had a compact, super quick arm stroke.

"I told Ian Levin [the scouting coordinator for the Mets] that we should see if he plays baseball and that maybe we should draft him and give him a chance."

The Padres did just that, now the trick will be to convince Owens to sign before the July 13 deadline.

"This was something where we'll take a flyer on the kid," Madison said. "He's a guy who throws a football where he wants to. Maybe he can throw a baseball where he wants to as well."

This has become the Padres' way under Madison, who presided over his third Draft. For MacDonald, this was his first with the team. It hasn't been difficult to see what they're trying to do.

A year ago, the Padres took second baseman Cory Spangenberg with the 10th overall pick, an athletic infielder who can run, has a quick bat and sharp baseball acumen. He signed fast and is already playing in the Class A California League, where he's hitting .298 with 20 stolen bases.

The Padres used one of their compensation picks last week (44th overall) on Stony Brook University outfielder Travis Jankowski, who, over the weekend, helped his team to an upset victory over LSU in the Super Regionals to send the team to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series.

Jankowski, who was 8-for-16 in the three-game series against LSU, was MVP of the Cape Cod League a year ago. He's a left-handed hitter who has plus speed and is a potential tablesetter who heads to the College World Series with a .422 batting average.

In other words, he's just what the Padres are looking for.

"If we fill our team with low-upside safe players, we're never going to hit on those big impact guys who can help us win championships," Madison said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.

San Diego Padres, Terrance Owens