Potential Early Round 2018 Draft Picks for the Padres

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

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.

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.

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.

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.

Long Shot
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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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Patrick Cusick
Since he was a little kid he wanted to be one of those guys at the game who had the headset on, listening to the Colonel and Uncle Teddy, he has grown out of that, but the love is still there. Padres' coverage will be biased at times, but mostly an honest dissection of the team he loves.

This article has 1 Comment

  1. For me, Nolan Gorman , LH 3B Power/Bat prospect, at 18 years old, is the right choice for our team. Go for the Cuban OF instead International FA. Then take High Ceiling guys the rest of the way, HS guys who we can mold and develop. We don’t need any college bats who still take 4 years to get ready to play ML baseball anymore.

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