Padres believe in Draft process, philosophy

Padres believe in Draft process, philosophy

SAN DIEGO -- In his pre-Draft news conference Wednesday afternoon, Padres general manager A.J. Preller called Draft day, "Christmas morning for scouts."

To further that analogy, Preller -- whose Padres own the most selections (five) on Day 1 of the Draft today -- will have no qualms if he receives the same gift over and over this weekend.

Padres loaded with picks early in Draft

"From our standpoint, if we end up going 10 straight college pitchers, then we end up going 10 straight college pitchers, because we felt like that was the best on the board," Preller said of his Draft strategy. "When you start trying to play GM with the Draft ... ultimately, that's when you might not make as good of decisions."

Just about every team -- in every sport -- lives by the mantra of picking the "best player available." But for the Padres -- who own the eighth, 24th, 25th, 48th, 71st and 85th picks -- it's a legitimate question as to whether they'd like to diversify those selections between college and high school, or between pitching and hitting.

The short answer is no.

"It's all about getting quality, talented guys," Preller said. "You have seven levels in the Minor Leagues, your big league club, you'll find places for them to play. [The Draft] is really for guys who are going to be valuable to our club, guys other teams are going to want. Obviously if you have excess and surplus, you're going to be able to make trades."

2016 MLB Draft: June 9-11 on MLB Network, MLB.com

The 2016 Draft will take place today through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com today at 3 p.m. PT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 4 p.m., with the top 77 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,500 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

"The strength of the Draft is probably high school pitching," said Padres scouting director Mark Conner in his assesment of this year's talent. "It seems to be not extremely top heavy, but there's a lot of good quality depth throughout it. In the position players, there's a lot of outfielders throughout the country, both in the college and high school ranks."

With so many early selections, Conner said the Padres have left no stone unturned. This year's Draft is unique, Conner said, in that the Padres are in the mix for just about every player available. According to Conner, the Padres' Draft board goes about 820 players deep.

Padres Draft preview

Conner also stressed the importance of evaluating potential Draft choices as people, instead of simply looking exclusively at raw ability.

"Seeing tools and seeing talent and seeing just the overall skill set -- it's just surface level," Conner said. "It's pretty obvious at times. You go to a game, and you can pick out the best player on the field. But what drives him? What motivates him? The passion that they have for the game is a complete separator.

"We dig deep and try to figure out why they want to play. What's going to make them great when they hit bumps in the road here through the Minor Leagues."

Under Preller and Conner, the Padres have turned scouting the Draft into a year-round process. They're confident those efforts will pay major dividends this weekend.

"We don't think the Draft is a crapshoot at all," Preller said. "We think if you have good scouts and a good process and philosophy, you're going to get better players than some of the other organizations."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.