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MLB Draft 2017: Reviewing the Padres’ first two days

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The dust has settled from the first ten rounds, and it’s time to check out which pogs flipped over.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at San Diego Padres
“Golly gee willikers, it sure is fine of you all to come out today!”
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

With the first two days of the 2017 MLB Draft complete, it’s a good time to take a look at the players selected by GM A.J. Preller and his staff. Here’s a table of the players the Padres selected along with some general information about them and their draft positions:

Padres 2017 Draft: Rounds 1-10

RD PICK RANK PLAYER SCHOOL POS B/T CLASS PLAYER INFO APPROX. PICK VALUE
RD PICK RANK PLAYER SCHOOL POS B/T CLASS PLAYER INFO APPROX. PICK VALUE
1 3 4 Gore, MacKenzie Whiteville HS LHP L/L HS 6'3" 180lbs DOB: 02/24/99 $6.7M
2 39 64 Campusano, Luis Cross Creek HS C R/R HS 6'0" 200lbs DOB: 09/29/98 $1.8M
CBB 69 90 Hunt, Blake Mater Dei HS C R/R HS 6'3" 180lbs DOB: 11/10/98 $858.6K
3 78 83 House, Mason Whitehouse HS CF S/L HS 6'3" 190lbs DOB: 09/10/98 $732.2K
4 108 195 Keating, Sam Canterbury School RHP R/R HS 6'3" 175lbs DOB: 08/31/98 $497K
5 138 -- Homza, Jonny South Anchorage HS 3B R/R HS 6'0" 185lbs DOB: 06/13/99 $371.2K
6 168 -- Leasher, Aaron Morehead State LHP L/L JR 6'3" 190lbs DOB: 04/28/96 $278.5K
7 198 -- Margevicius, Nick Rider U LHP L/L JR 6'5" 220lbs DOB: 06/18/96 $217.1K
8 228 -- Basabe, Olivier Faulkner U SS R/R JR 6'0" 190lbs DOB: 07/15/97 $172K
9 258 -- Cunningham, Alex Coastal Carolina RHP R/R 5S 6'0" 195lbs DOB: 06/21/94 $147K
10 288 -- Taccolini, Dominic Arkansas RHP R/R SR 6'3" 215lbs DOB: 09/28/94 $136.6K
MLB.com

The first thing that stands out to me is that the first five players were selected at draft positions that were well ahead of MLB.com’s rankings. One of the strategies employed in a draft room is to pick players that may sign for less than the value attached to their draft slot, so that the money saved can be spent later in the draft to entice players to break their college commitments. This was the case last year and it appears to be the case again this year. The Padres were successful in signing all of the players they selected in the first ten rounds last year, and they used some of the cash they saved early in the draft to sign 28th round selection Ethan Skender for $465k, a player that many schools stayed away from because they knew it would take some cash to woo him away from his commitment to Arizona State. While the draft process is interesting and takes the bulk of the press, the weeks that follow where signings happen and draft pools get spent is where the real magic happens.

Here’s my quick rundown of these picks. I am not a scout, but I once stayed at a Holiday Inn Express and I can google a little bit:

Round 1: MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville High School

Jim Callis said that Gore was the best player in the draft and that he would have picked him first overall. The top five palyers seemed to be a consensus group, it was just a matter of where the cards fell. Hunter Greene seemed to be the popular name, but he was off the board, so the Padres selected a lefty with four well-developed pitches, a mature frame with a polished delivery, and a pedigree for success. Gore features a four-seam fastball that sits in the low 90’s with excellent command along with a 1-to-7 curveball, a slider, and a changeup, all of which he can throw for strikes. They come from a 6’3” frame with broad shoulders and plenty of room to fill out. He has a great-looking high leg kick that not only gives him some deception, but he loads his body well, suggesting that his delivery wont’ be as stressed as someone who relies on arm strength alone. He may be less of an injury risk than the triple-digit hurler Greene, and he might sign for less than the $6.6M slot value as he was routinely ranked toward the bottom of the “top five” names in this draft. He has the electric arm and repertoire of a potential ace.

Round 2: Luis Campusano, C, Cross Creek High School

A defense-first high school catcher, Campusano has a cannon of an arm with the accuracy to control the basepaths and is working to improve his other behind-the-plate skills. With the bat, he has plus power from a loopy swing that produces a lot of hard contact and the stout frame that should be able to shorten the loop while maintaining the bat speed through the zone. His father was a catcher in the minor leagues.

Comp. B: Blake Hunt, C, Mater Dei High School

Hunt is hailed for his receiving skills and his excellent baseball IQ let his coaches trust him with calling games on his own. He has a strong and accurate arm and very good footwork, allowing him to keep runners quiet on the bases. The bat is questionable, but it sounds like there are mechanical issues that can be improved.

Round 3: Mason House, CF, Whitehouse High School

Drafted as a CF, House is likely to move to a corner outfield position. At 6’3” with a frame to add quite a bit of mass, he could develop into a powerful left-handed hitter, but he has the quickness and athleticism of a centerfielder right now. The big question mark on him is that he hasn’t seen much quality pitching, so some expect him to struggle at the plate at the next level.

Round 4: Sam Keating, RHP, Canterbury School

Keating was a “pop-up” draftee, a player whose stock rose significantly this year as he showed increased velocity and some development to his curveball. Another 6’3” pitcher, Padres scouts see a body that moves well and has the athleticism to be molded into a nice player. As with most high school pitchers, he’ll require considerable work, but the player development folks won’t have to undo college instruction to get him headed the right direction.

Round 5: Jonny Homza, 3B, South Anchorage High School

The two-time Player of the Year for the state of Alaska, Hozma can play SS and 3B but his stocky frame and powerful arm have him pegged for the hot corner. With the glove he moves with fluidity and purpose, and at the plate he has a compact, direct, level swing that screams gap-to-gap hitter.

Round 6: Aaron Leasher, LHP, Morehead State (Jr)

The 6’3” lefty was named to his All-Conference team in 2017 and showed flashes of brilliance, including a 15-strikeout complete game shutout. He’s a power pitcher who racked up a flurry of K’s while limiting the walks throughout his college career, after an impressive high school career.

Round 7: Margevicius, Nick, LHP, Rider Univeristy (Jr)

The tall (6’5”) lefty worked as a starter for most of the season with Rider University but may project as a reliever. I love the quote in his twitter bio: “I hate deep counts and long innings. Work smarter not harder.” That’s the mentality of a starter that I love to see.

Round 8: Basabe, Olivier, SS, Faulkner Univeristy (Jr)

A 6’0” Venezuelan shortstop who hits from the right side, Olivier has been praised for his strong arm, good hands, and quality footwork. He has a level swing and makes consistent contact, while the power has yet to develop from his 170lb frame. My suspicion is that this is a kid that Preller’s been watching since before he went to college as an international candidate.

Round 9: Alex Cunningham, RHP, Coastal Carolina (5-year Sr)

A preseason All-American, Cunningham graduated in 2016 and has been working on his Masters of Business Administration. In 106 inning pitched in 2017, he racked up 117 strikeouts against only 24 walks while holding opposing hitters to a .195 batting average. At 6’0”, he’s the shortest pitcher taken by the Padres so far, but the team must love the polished repertoire and excellent command, so he could be a quick riser if the performance carries over to pro ball. He was drafted by the Tigers in 2016 and failed to sign with them, so he’s been through the negotiation process once. As a fifth year senior, he has no incentive to return to college ball, but he still might be a tough sign for the team.

Round 10: Dominic Taccolini, RHP, Arkansas (Sr)

Yet another 6’3” starter, the highlight of his season was a 10-strikeout, zero-walk, ten-inning shutout. It’s tough to compare eye-popping numbers from kids in lower conferences versus someone who competed in the tough SEC, but he’s a big kid with the developed body of a power starter. In high school he was a rightfielder with plus range and a power bat.

Settle down, it’s only the draft!

It’s easy to get all wrapped up in scouting analyses and YouTube video snippets this time of year. Once the team signs these kids, all of them will require at least some time in the minors to develop their tools. Surely Gore will have pressure on him from day one due to his draft position and signing bonus, but it’ll be years before we see any of these kids make their MLB debut. In the meantime, let’s mark where these seeds are planted and watch them slowly grow into future friars!