Everything to know about Padres' 2020 Draft

June 12th, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' Draft came together like a six-piece puzzle.

They gambled early on high schoolers with upside, while pooling money for a mid-round splash. In the third round, general manager A.J. Preller struck, landing right-hander Cole Wilcox -- a first-round talent -- at No. 80 overall.

San Diego capped the two-day event with a pair of unknown commodities at pitcher, likely ensuring that they'd be able to maneuver some of their pool money to sign Wilcox.

"You're constantly looking at talent,” said Preller. “But you’re also looking at the price points and trying to balance that out."

Here's the full list of Padres Draft picks from this week:

• OF Robert Hassell, Independence HS, Tennessee (8th pick)
• RHP Justin Lange, Llano HS, Texas (34th)
• OF Owen Caissie, Notre Dame Catholic SS, Ontario, Canada (45th)
• RHP Cole Wilcox, University of Georgia (80th)
• RHP Levi Thomas, Troy University (109th)
• LHP Jagger Haynes, West Columbus HS, North Carolina (139th)

Now what?
The signing deadline this year is Aug. 1.

If a club exceeds its assigned pool, it faces a penalty. Teams that outspend their allotment by 0-5 percent pay a 75 percent tax on the overage. At higher thresholds, clubs lose future picks: a first-rounder and a 75 percent tax for surpassing their pool by more than 5 and up to 10 percent; a first- and a second-rounder and a 100 percent tax for more than 10 and up to 15 percent; and two first-rounders and a 100 percent tax for more than 15 percent.

In eight years with these rules, teams have exceeded their allotments a total of 149 times but never by more than 5 percent. Twenty-one of the 30 teams outspent their pools last year.

The Padres have a pool of $10,674,000 to spend on their picks -- the sum of the suggested values for each of their six picks. Wilcox will almost certainly sign for above his slot's value of $767,800.

Scouting director Mark Conner reiterated his confidence that the two sides would work out a deal. He harkened back to a season ago when the Padres took a similar risk in drafting Hudson Head at No. 84 overall.

"Part of the Draft now is understanding the dollars and managing some things,” Conner said. “At the end of the day, I'm pretty confident we'll get something done."

Trend wrap
The Padres played a risk/reward game with a few of their selections. But if they can sign all six of them, they'll have three players -- Hassell, Lange and Wilcox -- who have clear first-round ceilings.

Preller posited that in a normal year, all three might have boosted their stocks this spring and likely been unavailable at the picks the Padres used.

In total, the Padres ended up using four of their six picks on high schoolers and four of their six picks on pitchers.

First-round fact
Hassell played travel ball with fellow Padres first-round pick Ryan Weathers. Weathers was the No. 7 overall selection in 2018 out of Loretto, Tenn.

"I'll probably play some Fortnite with him tonight," Hassell said Wednesday. "We'll have to celebrate."

Name to watch from Day 2
Has to be Wilcox. He was MLB Pipeline's No. 23 overall prospect entering the Draft, and the Padres landed him with the 80th pick. Assuming he signs, it's a coup for the Padres.

Wilcox’s fastball hit 100 when he pitched in relief, but it sits in the mid-90s as a starter. He also owns two put-away offerings -- a changeup and slider.

It also shouldn't be lost that Wilcox shared a rotation at Georgia with Emerson Hancock, who was taken No. 6 overall by the Mariners.

Said Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin: "They compete in everything they do. They had an accounting class together and they were competing, who was gonna get the highest grade. One got a 97 and one got a 96. I’m not going to say who won, but that’s how competitive those two guys are. … Cole got off to a great start for us this year, and that was pushing Emerson. So watching those two guys compete with each other and just continue to get better and better, that was fun to watch.”

NDFA strategy
Earlier this week, Preller expressed a willingness to be active in the non-drafted free-agent market, though he added a caveat: "It's got to be somebody that comes in and brings value."

Preller noted that “value” might come from a player with big league-caliber upside -- or it might come in the form of a solid Minor Leaguer who can push other prospects in the Padres' loaded system.

"I think we'll use the next couple days just to put everybody's thoughts together, put together a target list and start the process of contacting the guys and seeing: Who wants to start their pro career? Who wants to sign up to be a Padre?” Preller said. “Exactly how we're going to do it -- it's still a little up in the air, because it's a new process."

The last word
Without an amateur spring season, a number of teams played it safe and drafted proven college players. The Padres, instead, gambled on upside, with picks like Hassell, Lange and Caissie. Even their two college selections -- Wilcox and Thomas -- were on-the-rise arms with limited 2020 data.

"Extremely proud of how they handled this pandemic and what it did to the scouting landscape," Conner said of his scouts. "It changed everything about how we went about our process. Instead of going game-to-game, we were searching for information in so many different avenues, trying to getting to know these guys.

"These six players that came to light … we're pretty excited about them.”