As some of you may be aware, every year John Sickels and Minor League Ball conduct a mock draft of the first three rounds of the MLB draft. Teams are represented by an individual member of the site. Being a Padres fan (owed in part to seeing some of their guys come through the minors), I decided to take on the challenge of masterminding their giant draft haul this year. I wanted to solicit feedback from all of you folks to hear what players or types of players you'd be interested in adding in the draft. I would have posted this over here sooner, but as I've been occupied with work a whole lot lately, a proper post honestly slipped my mind. Anyway, here's what we have to work with: picks 7, 33, 44, 55, 66, 70, and 102. Whew. So this might be a bit of a long post, but I wanted to give you all a good idea of what I'm thinking about, and then we can see what might make sense. As a handy reference, Baseball America just posted their top 100 draft prospects list.
The Minor League Ball Mock Draft is typically driven by a heavy emphasis on upside; turns out prospect junkies hate "safe" and want the lotto tickets. Consequently, while prep SS Carlos Correa has been mocked in some professional sources to the Padres, there is not a chance that he will be available anywhere close to our first pick. I'm looking to add a player who has a relatively high ceiling, but who also has a decent floor to give the draft class some flexibility in later picks. Possible players I like who have a chance at being available at 7:
Florida HS OF Albert Almora - Toolsy and polished, plus defensive CF at this point. Some concern over future power projection, he doesn't hit for much at this point but some suggest he can be at least average there. He seems to have a lot of helium, though, and may go as high as No. 4 to Baltimore here (he is the cousin of Orioles prospect Manny Machado)
Florida HS RHP Lance McCullers - Son of the former major leaguer of the same name. He's a little small but very athletic, and has a mid-to-high 90s fastball with an excellent slider. He had major issues with control and command prior to this year, but a reworking of his delivery has led to significant improvements here and he is now projected to have a solid chance at being a starting pitcher. If not, he could always make for a dynamite closer, but that would be some years away.
California HS LHP Max Fried - 6'3" 170 pound athletic southpaw with the best curveball in the draft. He doesn't throw too hard at the moment, living in the high 80s to low 90s, but he's gotten up as high as 94 mph in the past and there is plenty of reason to believe there is more in the tank. If he gets stronger, he could be an excellent pitcher with three strong pitches. In a recent outing, there was some concern as he only worked 86-88 mph. May also be off the board at our pick, upside being what it is.
Texas HS OF Courtney Hawkins - Athletic two-way player will hit as a pro. Built like a linebacker, he has some of the best raw power in his class. He plays CF for now but will probably play RF as a pro. One concern is that he is already physically mature. Another is that he struggles with breaking pitches at times, but he is a true five tool talent.
Stanford RHP Marc Appel - He'll go higher than this in real life, but he has three strong pitches in a 6'5" frame. Fastball has been sitting 92-93, touching 95. Struggles at times with consistency and being hittable, but has made gradual improvements all three years of college. He'd give a great base for picking heavy on HS talent later.
Louisiana HS SS Gavin Cecchini - Brother of a Red Sox prospect. No standout tools, but lots of solid-to-good ones, and a very polished bat. Not much power at the moment, but is too good a natural hitter to not develop some. As you might imagine, some doubt over whether he plays shortstop at the highest level - he has a solid arm but needs to work on accuracy, and his range may be in question. Optimists believe he can be average-to-above-average with time. Pessimists think he is a second baseman.
I'm open to discussing other players, but those are the guys in my mix at the moment. I really like Duke RHP Marcus Stroman, but there seems to be a lot of resistance to using the No. 7 pick on a 5'9" pitcher, so oh well.
With the rest of the draft being very fluid, there are a lot of ways we could end up going with the next few picks. I'd like to add some quality talent in the middle infield, and high upside pitching prospects make a lot of sense given the huge number of Padres prospects nearing the majors. Following the Jace Peterson mold would seem to be the best way to bring in college players.
At pick 33 I'm targeting California HS SS Tanner Rahier, who doesn't have big tools and is likely to move to 3B but has a terrific bat. I'm also thinking about Minnesota HS RHP Mitch Brown (an athletic kid who has shot up in the last few weeks), North Carolina HS RHP Ty Buttrey (an athletic 6'3" kid), and Oregon HS 3B Carson Kelly (a big power bat who is underrated being from the Northwest).
At pick 44, I'll likely go with a college player to diversify the class a bit, perhaps a power arm. Stony Brook OF Travis Jankowski reminds me of Curtis Granderson in some ways with his untapped raw power and cold-weather background. Georgia LHP Alex Wood had Tommy John in 2010 but is fully recovered and can throw in the mid-90s. Vanderbilt LHP Sam Selman is a terrible performer at present but has a big arm. Alternately we can look for a late-inning arm - Florida RHP Austin Maddox and Arkansas RHP Nolan Sanburn both have that kind of potential. One sneaky alternative would be to go for another prep player who would make for an easy sign at this slot.
Picks 55, 66 and 70 will be BPA, although with the new spending restrictions on the draft I'll have to pay heed to not drafting too many kids out of HS, lest some of them don't sign.
Hopefully you're still with me - please let me hear your thoughts and I'll look forward to engaging in some discussion. If you have certain players that you think would make for strong selections, feel free to name them. A lot is going to change in the next couple of weeks, the draft being on Saturday, May 26th.