Following the trade of Derek Norris and the non-tender of six other players last week, the Padres went into the Winter Meetings with only 33 players on their 40-man roster. With seven open spots on the 40-man, the Padres had plenty of options going into the 2016 Rule 5 Draft. Going into 2017 with little hopes of fielding a competitive roster, it was clear the Padres could benefit from making several Rule 5 selections as they did in 2015. Given the success of Luis Perdomo in 2015, it was evident that the Padres intended to repeat at least some of that magic.
As the Rule 5 dust settles on Thursday morning, it appears the Padres will come out of the draft with four new players, including three players from the Major League portion of the draft and one from the Triple-A portion. Similar to last year, the Padres selected two players for themselves, and acquired another two via trade. While last year was relatively successful over all, the Padres have a chance for an even higher upside with their 2016 selections.
In typical A.J. Preller fashion, the Padres made noise by acquiring all three of the top three selections in the Rule 5 Draft. Not only did the Padres make trades with the Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds to acquire RHP Miguel Diaz and C Luis Torrens, but they also made their own selection at number three, selecting IF Allen Cordoba from the St. Louis Cardinals. Prior to the acquisition of Diaz, the Padres acquired RHP Justin Haley from the Los Angeles Angels before flipping him to the Twins for Diaz. Beyond that, the Padres also selected RHP Trevor Frank from the Cleveland Indians in the Triple-A portion of the draft.
Of the three players selected at the top of the draft by the Padres, all three must remain on the Padres big league roster for the entirety of the 2017 season. Given the amount of open spots on the 40-man roster, and the Padres position in the NL West in 2017, this actually is a distinct possibility. Obviously these guys could all struggle, but there is a chance that all three could repeat that feat the same way Luis Perdomo did in 2016. Perdomo struggled early, but stuck it out and managed to greatly improve as the season went on. As for Frank, he does not need to be on the big league roster given the lack of restrictions on those players selected in the Triple-A portion of the draft, although he may see some playing time at the big league level regardless.
What follows is a look at the four players the Padres selected and how they potentially fit in 2017 and beyond:
Miguel Diaz, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (Selected and Traded by the Minnesota Twins)
Originally signed out of the Dominican in 2011, Diaz has never pitched above the Single-A level. According to MLB Pipeline, Diaz not only sports a mid-90s fastball but also has a good mid-70s slider that could be used as a strikeout pitch with increased command. Although Diaz has a plus fastball and his slider is coming along, it’s clear he lacks a strong third pitch, as his changeup falls greatly behind the other two. Diaz still looks to have a chance to start at the big league level, but he certainly has strong upside in the bullpen given his fastball/slider combo. It remains unclear how the Padres will use him in 2017, but there is definitely some stuff to like here if Diaz can straighten out his command and fully develop a third pitch.
Luis Torrens, C, New York Yankees (Selected and Traded by the Cincinnati Reds)
Signed out of Venezuela in 2012, Torrens has shown a good amount of potential despite struggling with injuries so far in his short professional career. Although a shortstop originally, the Yankees liked his potential as a catcher and shifted him to catcher after signing him. Despite still being relatively new to the position, Torrens has excelled on the field, using his strong arm and good hands to become a solid defensive catcher. At the plate, Torrens has a quality approach and is able to use all fields at the plate. The power is not quite fully developed yet, but with some added weight and strength he could become a fifteen homer player in the long term. It’s clear here that Torrens’ glove is more advanced than his bat, but the Padres have to like what they see to give him the chance to remain on the big league roster in 2017. If successful, Torrens could end up being the backup for Hedges next season.
Allen Cordoba, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
Signed out of Panama in 2013, Cordoba comes as a bit of surprise for the Padres, as he had yet to play above Rookie ball for his previous organization. In 2015, Cordoba won the MVP award for the Gulf Coast League, hitting .342 with an OBP over .400 to go with his 69 hits and 85 total bases. Cordoba followed that up with another strong 50 game showing in 2016, slashing .362/.427/.495 with 71 hits in just under 200 at bats to go along with 22 stolen bases. According to MLB Pipeline, Cordoba is said to have a very good feel for hitting to go along with a strong enough glove to stay at shortstop, and some versatility to play other positions as needed. Given the Padres dearth of MLB-ready shortstop talent outside of Luis Sardinas, Cordoba will get a real chance to win a job out of Spring Training next year.
Trevor Frank, RHP, Cleveland Indians
Last, but not least, the Padres selected right-handed pitcher Trevor Frank from the Cleveland Indians in the Triple-A portion of the draft. Originally from El Cajon, California, and a graduate of UC Riverside, Frank is a local kid who will now get the chance to play for his hometown team. In 43.2 innings pitched in High-A this past year, Frank finished with a 2.47 ERA with 43 strikeouts, a .191 batting average against, and a 0.92 WHIP. Frank has a solid, repeatable delivery, and has two solid pitches in his fastball and curveball. Given his selection in the Triple-A portion of the draft, Frank does not need to be kept on the Padres 25-man roster all season, and could be a solid long-term option out of the bullpen in San Diego.