Major League Baseball’s draft is coming up on June 4, 2018.
Although it still does not have the same allure as the NFL or NBA drafts, the draft has become bigger, and done so in an age where information is easily obtainable. Let’s dive into the Padres’ possibilities with their first pick at number seven and their competitive balance pick at 38.
First Round – Seventh Overall Pick: Pick Value – $5,226,500
The Front Runners
Most scouts have predicted that the Padres would be selecting from three high school pitchers: Matthew Liberatore, Carter Stewart, and Ryan Weathers, with some thinking that South Alabama outfielder Travis Swaggerty could possibly fall to them at number seven.
Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS (Glendale, Arizona)
The high school lefty has been linked to the Padres on several baseball outlets. He would fit into the Padres’ theme of grabbing a high school player early in the draft. Liberatore is rated by most to be the best high school arm of the group, but does not seem to be as far along as MacKenzie Gore was last year at the same time.
The 6-foot-5 pitcher is committed to Arizona, but it appears that he will sign with the team that selects him. He currently is the second-ranked prospect on Baseball America and the fourth-ranked prospect on MLB.com.
He has a four-pitch mix: Fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup, with scouts believing his fastball, curveball, and changeup are plus pitches. He seems to be a very well-balanced pitcher and probably the safest high school pitcher on the board.
— Sam Monroy (@Socal_prospects) March 1, 2018
Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS (Melbourne, Florida)
Stewart is a right-handed pitcher from Florida known for his off-the-charts curveball and a fastball that can touch 97 at a consistent rate, both pitches that Baseball America believes can be 70-grade pitches. He has a big body, and has a very similar delivery to Padres top prospect Michel Baez.
He has the most upside here at this pick, as the big right-hander has an easy delivery with a curveball that is already very advanced for his age. His changeup is a pitch that has not been seen enough yet, simply because he has not had the need to throw it often. It will be interesting to see if a bad final outing will affect his draft stock.
Carter Stewart and his 3500RPM curveball. 🤢😱 pic.twitter.com/ta2tELinLt
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 14, 2017
Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto HS (Loretto, Tennessee)
Weathers is the son of former Major League pitcher David Weathers, who pitched 19 years in the big leagues. He has a high floor arm and has consistently sat around 15 as far as rankings go. There seems to be some concern about whether he can control his body weight, but that should not bother too many who are high on him, as he was a very good basketball player who helped lead his team to a state title.
Weather’s best trait may be his lineage. It is going to help with his value. It very well should, as he grew up around the game and should have a good understanding about what it will take to succeed at the big league level.
I’m in Loretto, TN to see prep lefty Ryan Weathers, who has some top 10 buzz. A GM and two directors are among the high level guys here pic.twitter.com/V4hSRCelCy
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) May 8, 2018
Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama University
Swaggerty is arguably the best all-around athlete in the draft. He is a true center fielder with plus speed, above average defense, and a really good idea of how to get on base, with a .456 OBP in 184 at-bats in 2018.
Swaggerty started in center field with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in 2017, slashing .328/.449/.406 in a wood bat tournament. It may make the best sense for the Padres to take Swaggerty here because he might be the closest thing to big league-ready available at that selection, which could help the Padres sooner rather than any of the prep arms.
South Alabama folk hero Travis Swaggerty goes top 10 in our latest mock draft https://t.co/GkmP7gMkgi
There’s a lot to like with the Jaguars outfielder, as shown in this video pic.twitter.com/tuwRAtNLjC
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) April 5, 2018
The Padres have been known to reach early in the draft, taking guys ahead of slot to free up money for the later picks. That may not be the move this early in the draft, but do not count out A.J. Preller when it comes to drafting.
Noah Naylor, 3B/C, St. Joan of Arc Catholic SS (Mississuaga, Ontario, Canada)
If the name sounds familiar, it should. Noah’s big brother, Josh Naylor, is currently tearing the cover off the ball for Double-A San Antonio. The younger Naylor has been shooting up the draft boards, and while it once looked like he could fall to the Padres at the 38th pick, it now seems he will not make it out of the top 15. There is no secret that the Padres like the Naylor family, as they made a point of acquiring Josh from the Marlins in the Andrew Cashner trade, so why not take his little brother, who can play two positions?
Like his brother, Naylor is known for his bat, but in a different regard. He is more of a contact hitter, not having the pop that Josh had as an amateur. Having said that, he did win the High School Home Run Derby at the MLB All-Star Game in 2017.
Naylor would be a good fit for the Padres here if they wanted to take arguably the best prep hitter while trying to save money to reach on a player later in the draft.
C/3B Noah Naylor, number 16 on @prepbaseball‘s Top 100, has made real strides in the infield. Solid glove actions with a quick transfer. Arm plays across the diamond. Versatility to go along with a projectable bat/power combo. #BeSeen #2018MLBDraft @PBR_Ontario pic.twitter.com/wpqle4mF0M
— Ryan Friele (@rfriele) March 2, 2018
Competive Balance Round A – 38th Overall Pick: Pick Value – $1,878,300
With this second pick, it basically turns into throwing a dart against the board when trying to guess what the organization is thinking. The Padres tend to take players that people overlook for a number of reasons (see Joey Lucchesi), so these are all just huge hypothetical choices that could be taken around this pick.
Steele Walker, OF, University of Oklahoma
Walker is arguably one of the best hitters in the draft with a .358 average and a 1.049 OPS through 51 games. The left-handed hitter is not a prototypical corner outfielder as he only stands about 5-foot-11 and does not possess plus power or game-changing speed. In fact, the only thing Walker can really do well is hit, plus he has a tremendous baseball name.
Steele Walker lifts his 40th career 2B to right-center and OU’s lead is now 14-2! pic.twitter.com/s1hW9QGtrn
— Oklahoma Baseball (@OU_Baseball) April 12, 2018
Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek, Florida)
Edwards has a unique ability to takeover games with his speed and defense combination. The 5-foot-10 shortstop is very small in stature, but carries himself much bigger. The switch-hitter has a swagger about him that makes you take notice when he steps on a field. He could be a steal if the Padres can take him here.
2018 Vanderbilt commit Xavier Edwards leads off with a perfect bunt for an easy single 3.7 to first. Such an exciting all around player pic.twitter.com/lgr7DwgIn5
— Perfect Game USA (@PerfectGameUSA) March 10, 2018
Griffin Roberts, RHP, Wake Forest University
Roberts is the prototypical player for the Padres in this slot. He has a 3.94 ERA in 12 games started this year while striking out 117 in 82.1 innings. The threat with him is that most view him as a reliever because of the high energy delivery, but this is the exactly the kind of pitcher the Padres need in this spot, another decent-upside, low risk, collegiate arm that is undervalued by other MLB teams.
Enjoy this slider from @WakeBaseball RHP Griffin Roberts. Arguably best breaker in college baseball. Tunnels well & throws with conviction at 83-85 mph. Over first two living 92-94/95 with sink to both sides. Flashing feel for CH too @ 85-87 mph. #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/JMRSBbl2Fj
— Jheremy Brown (@JBrownPG) April 13, 2018
No matter what happens in this year’s draft, the process has turned into an enjoyable thing to watch for Padres fans. It no longer seems to be a guessing game, but a calculated risk, with the Padres selecting the best available players with the potential to produce.