The MLB Draft is a great moment for tons of young players. The San Diego Padres have an opportunity to add to an already strong farm system. In their attempt to do so, they added C.J. Abrams in the first round, Joshua Mears in the second, and they rounded out day one with Logan Driscoll in the Competitive Balance B pick.
The question is, what can Abrams, Mears, and Driscoll bring to the future of the club?
The Padres took Abrams sixth overall, the MLB draft experts ranked him as the fourth best player in the draft. To get the obvious out of the way, he is fast and he has some power. That, we know. The MLB guys give him a Dee Gordon comp, but with more pop.
Taking high school bats can be tricky. They tend to struggle more than college hitters when adjusting and advancing through the professional ranks. There are certainly exceptions, like Nolan Gorman from the Cardinals who has been fantastic. Though even Gorman struggled early on when branching out of the Rookie League.
The speed is something you can’t teach. Abrams will need to continue to develop his baserunning and defensive IQ in order to get the most out of his 75 grade speed.
However, his pop at the plate is what makes him exciting. He is listed at 6’1” and 178 pounds, which is a great frame to build on. What gives him that power from the left side of the are his quick hands through the zone. Don’t get carried away with the power though, unless he can find a true homerun stroke, he will struggle to exceed 15 bombs in a season.
All of that can be read in his draft profile. Abrams does bring good bat to ball ability, but in reviewing video of his swing it might take some time for that to translate at the next level. His hands have a tendency to keep moving through his load and right up to the point when he starts his swing. That could prove to be problematic once the fastballs get faster and the breaking balls break more.
His defensive profile is a little shaky, but the kid is 18 years old. That will become clearer as he progresses through the minors. From what I have seen and read, his absolute ceiling is an All-Star caliber player. As with any high school bat, patience should be preached to a fan base when likely struggles come.
With all of the potential Abrams has, keep in mind he is still very raw. His athleticism will serve him well, but he will take some polishing.
Abrams has tools that cannot be taught and he will be able to add a few more as an excellent San Diego farm system helps him to polish his game. If I were to go out on a limb, I would expect him to be moved to centerfield in the long run.
Overall, this is an excellent pick by the Padres.
Talking pure numbers, the San Diego Padres selected the 118th best player, per MLB Pipeline, 48th overall. The likely reason is to preserve some slot money for Abrams, or future pick plans. Either way, there are some things to like about Mears.
He is another high school bat who stands 6’3” tall and weighs 235 pounds. Mears is committed to Purdue for college, though he will likely forgo that. That size is something to love.
If I was overusing the word patience with Abrams, double it for Mears. He has some serious power potential. MLB Pipeline gives him a comp of Nelson Cruz. That being said, his raw power is what carried him to the second round of the draft.
Don’t picture a big brute who can only pull the ball, because that isn’t true. Rather, picture a guy who will make some loud contact with likely high strikeout numbers. At least at first. He profiles as a guy who will always have the strikeout problem, but with a polished approach he can draw walks.
From what I can tell from video, he generates a lot of his power from his strong upper body. He stays tall through contact, with a compact swing that creates good angles for the bat head through the ball. That being said, he has a tendency to lift his back foot when during the swing, which leaves some power from the lower half. There is no secret, he is a raw prospect with serious upside if it can be tapped into.
Defensively, he is not going to cover a lot of ground with his speed, so he will have to develop route efficiency to become a solid defensive option. He should turn into a serviceable right fielder.
Even on picks where teams reach to cover slot money, they do so with players they see a future in. I absolutely love this pick. With the kind of raw ability and size Mears has, there will be a ceiling that will have to come into focus later on. With that comes the downside that his floor could be very low.
Final thought: This could be a great pick for the San Diego Padres, and I truly believe it will be.
Driscoll is a catcher by trade, rated by MLB Pipeline as the 194th draft prospect and taken at 73. Unlike his predecessors in this draft, he is a college bat out of George Mason.
According to his profile, he has the floor of a solid backup at the big league level, which is nice. If he can put together his swing he might be able to reach his ceiling of an everyday player. Driscoll hit pretty well in college, but found struggles in the Cape Cod League.
Hearing the word backup on day one of the draft is not ideal, but Driscoll is a solid backstop with some upside. Even if his bat does not come around, he grades out with solid defensive skills and a slightly above average arm. Oh, and he runs well...for a catcher.
He hits from the left side of the plate, and as can be read, he showed a tendency to try to hit for power. That is not something he should be doing.
Video shows that he lacks the bat speed of Abrams or Mears, which is why he is going to be a contact first hitter. But as to be expected Driscoll’s swing is much farther along. If you are looking for a ray of hope, CBS reports that many scouts feel he was undervalued heading into the draft. That could be due to the abundance of catching talent in this draft.
His ceiling may be lower than the previous picks, but he may be viewed as safer too. If his swing translates to a wood bat professionally better than in the Cape Cod League then the Padres will get a good value out of Driscoll. All in all, this appears to be another solid pick to round out the first day of the draft.