SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Graham Pauley didn't know where he was going to get to land when the 2022 MLB Draft arrived. And on Day 3, his question was answered when the Padres selected him in the 13th round.
"It's a blessing getting the chance to play pro ball," Pauley said. "But I wanted to prove to everyone who didn't think I was high as a Draft pick wrong and I feel like I'm in a really good spot."
San Diego's No. 11 prospect isn't just waking up everyone who slept on him. He is setting the standard for what a successful season in the Padres system looks like.
Pauley finished with a cumulative slash line of .308/.393/.538 between Single-A Lake Elsinore, High-A Fort Wayne and Double-A San Antonio. The 23-year-old third baseman slugged 23 home runs, drove in 94 runs and swiped 22 bases, becoming the only Padres' Minor Leaguer to produce a 20-20 season.
Still not convinced he is the real deal? Pauley also led the organization in average, slugging, OPS (.931), hits (148) and extra-base hits (60). So it wasn't a surprise that he earned recognition as the club's Hitting Prospect of the Year and was rewarded with a trip to the Arizona Fall League.
"I thought I was pretty locked in for a majority of the year," Pauley said. "I just wanted to carry that in and keep my mentality in the at-bats and my mentality in the field and keep doing what I'm doing."
And to no shock, Pauley has sustained his production at the plate in the desert. The Duke product clubbed his fifth home run of the Arizona Fall League in the Javelinas' 10-9 loss to the Scorpions on Tuesday evening.
Pauley has excelled at the plate with a .269/.370/.513 slash line, and he's tied for third in roundtrippers. But his priority heading into the prestigious rookie circuit was to take his defense to the next level.
While he is a natural at the hot corner, San Diego locked Manny Machado, one of the best third basemen in the Majors, to an 11-year deal earlier in the season. Pauley and the Padres discussed his versatility being key in his pursuit of the Majors. During the regular season, he split his time between third base (85 games), second (17) and left field (14), and with Peoria, he's split his time evenly in the outfield (eight in left, two in right) and at third (10 games) as he continues to sharpen his defense this fall.
"I think it's going really well," Pauley said. "For me, it's just a matter of getting as many reps as possible, whether that's in batting practice or in-game. I'm feeling a lot more confident out there and hopefully I can continue to play well."
Even despite his impressive résumé in 2023, Pauley wasn't voted in for the final National League spot in the Fall Stars Game. While he would have liked to have participated in last weekend's contest, that won't deter him from reaching his main objective.
"The ultimate goal is to be an All-Star in The Show," Pauley said. "So to me, that's just something that I can look forward to and it's something to fuel me more."
Pauley wasn't the only member of the Padres organization to make an impact in Tuesday's contest. Jakob Marsee (SD No. 12), one of the frontrunners for the AFL MVP Award, smashed a two-run homer to right field at an estimated 107 mph exit velocity in the fourth.
Trey Lipscomb (WSH No. 14) picked a perfect time to hit his first home run of the campaign, as his three-run dinger in the seventh gave the Scorpions the lead.