Draft brings 'big influx of talent' to Padres

GM Preller feels really good about players San Diego selected

Draft brings 'big influx of talent' to Padres

SAN DIEGO -- It'll be half a decade, perhaps longer, before the Padres' front office can be accurately graded on its performance over the past three days. In the short term, however, there's plenty of cause for excitement within the organization.

The Padres held three first-rounders and five Day 1 selections in this year's Draft -- more than any other club. Their six picks in the top 85 were five more than a year ago. Essentially, no organization had a chance to infuse itself with more young talent this weekend, and the Padres feel as though they capitalized.

"It's a big influx of talent into the system," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. "Again, the Draft, you never really fully know until a few years down the road exactly. But I feel really good. We added a lot of top-end prospects, a lot of depth into the system."

Padres snag Stanford righty Quantrill at No. 8

Preller's first selection came as no surprise, with Stanford right-hander Cal Quantrill having been linked to the Padres for more than a month. Quantrill, the son of former Padres reliever Paul Quantrill, missed the 2016 college season because of Tommy John surgery, but he's fully recovered and expects to pitch this summer.

Later that day, the Friars took high school shortstop Hudson Sanchez at No. 24, Kent State lefty Eric Lauer at No. 25, University of Florida center fielder Buddy Reed at 48 and high school right-hander Reggie Lawson at 71. They opened Day 2 with another high-upside righty in Mason Thompson.

Now, the focus turns to signing those top picks, and the Padres have the third-largest bonus-pool allotment to work with. Their abundance of early selections gives Preller flexibility to mix and match. But he added, "My guess is we'll probably come close to spending every penny."

Padres draft RHP Quantrill No. 8

Extra picks allowed Padres to take chances

Among the many benefits of the Padres' early selections was their ability to take risks on players with high ceilings.

Coming off Tommy John surgery, Quantrill certainly qualifies. So, too, does the 17-year-old Sanchez, the third youngest of the top 100 players selected.

"Truthfully, what we see in them, it's not risk," said Padres scouting director Mark Conner. "We are getting guys with upside and feel like once we implement them into our system of player development, it's going to come to fruition. It's a probability play for us that other people see as risk because they didn't do the same work."

Still, it's worth wondering whether the Padres would've been so aggressive without so many early selections. Given his athleticism, Reed boasts enormous upside, but has holes in his swing. Lawson -- who many believe possesses first-round talent -- struggled in his senior season and had a setback with an oblique injury. And Thompson, like Quantrill, is coming back from Tommy John.

"The Draft's not a crapshoot," Preller said. "If you do the work and the process is good, there should be production."

Padres draft SS Sanchez No. 24

Preller goes all-in on athletic pitchers

Beginning in lottery Round B with Lawson, San Diego selected eight straight hurlers. Overall, 10 of its first 12 picks and 24 of 43 overall were spent on pitching.

Pitching, pitching and more pitching for Friars on Day 2

The international signing period begins next month, and the Padres have been linked to several top position players. But evidently that didn't factor into the club's decision to go with pitching talent early and often.

"Honestly, they were the best players available," Conner said. "There were a lot of good position players out there, but when we lined up our board and looked at all the factors, as we made each one of those picks, it just happened to be that we had a pitcher over the position players."

More specifically, size and athleticism were priorities of the Padres.

Five of those eight consecutive hurlers stand taller than 6-foot-3. Ben Sheckler, the club's 6-foot-8 eighth-rounder, was a basketball star in high school, for whom 2016 was his first year playing baseball exclusively. Fifth-rounder Lake Bachar was the kicker and punter on Wisconsin-Whitewater's back-to-back NCAA Division III championship teams.

"Big leaguers come in all shapes and sizes, but in general, [size] definitely helps," Preller said. "It's a long season, and eventually at the end of the year, you're going to play 180-plus games, counting postseason. If you can have big, strong, athletic people playing the game, it's a positive. It's a good place to start."

Padres draft RHP Lawson No. 71

Tommy John recoveries don't concern Padres

Perhaps it's a sign of the times, but the Padres seem unconcerned that two of their top six selections underwent major elbow surgery in March 2015 -- and have thrown a combined total of one competitive inning since.

Thompson's effort in TJ recovery pays off

Granted, both Quantrill and Thompson were scouted by the Padres before their injuries. And they've worked out several times for Friars scouts since. Both have fully recovered and are expected to pitch in rookie ball this summer.

"It's all individualized," Conner said. "... Knowing the rehab process that each individual did, knowing the doctors that did it, knowing the program they were on -- to us, those are a lot of the factors that made us very comfortable with the picks."

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.