Padres don't hesitate to be bold in Rule 5 Draft

San Diego trades for Nos. 1-2 selections, grabs RHP, C, SS with trio of top picks

Padres don't hesitate to be bold in Rule 5 Draft

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- It's becoming something of a Padres tradition to rule the Rule 5 Draft.

After a quiet first three days at the Winter Meetings, the Padres -- who owned the No. 3 pick at the event -- made a splash on Thursday morning, trading up for the first and second selections, as well.

2016 Rule 5 Draft results

With that trio of picks, they drafted, in order: right-hander Miguel Diaz from the Brewers, catcher Luis Torrens from the Yankees and shortstop Allen Cordoba from the Cardinals. 

"They're all guys that our scouting group really likes, guys we've been tracking for a while now," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller, who heralded the day as a success for his talent evaluation team, led by pro scouting director Pete DeYoung.

Per the Rule 5 Draft's stipulations, all three must remain on the Padres' roster for the duration of the 2017 season or be offered back to their original club.

Padres' Top 30 Prospects

Perhaps just as notably, the Padres didn't lose any players in the Draft. Internally, there was some concern the club might lose right-handers Yimmi Brasoban and Michael Kelly, who were left unprotected last month. Preller called that move "a gamble," but the Friars came away unscathed, and they even added El Cajon native Trevor Frank in the Triple-A phase of the Draft.

Diaz, pushed hard by top scouts Keith Boeck, Chris Bourjos and Cory Wade, pitched for Class A Wisconsin in 2016 where he posted a 3.71 ERA in 26 games (15 starts). Expect the Padres to use him out of the bullpen, though he projects as a starter long term -- similar to their plan for Luis Perdomo last season. Diaz boasts a mid-to upper-90s fastball, but he needs work on his offspeed pitches.

Preller acquired Diaz as part of a three-team deal with the Twins and Angels. Minnesota, which held the top pick, received right-hander Justin Haley, and the Angels will get cash or a player to be named later -- most likely cash.

Hot Stove Tracker

For Torrens, the Padres traded cash and a player to be named to the Reds, who had selected Torrens from the Yankees with the second pick. Torrens, a 20-year-old defensive-minded catcher, batted .230/.348/.317 for Class A Charleston last season. He could have a spot on the San Diego roster as a third catcher, behind Austin Hedges and Christian Bethancourt. Cordoba might be the riskiest pick of the group. He raked for Johnson City in the Appalachian League last season, batting .362/.427/.495 with 22 steals. But the 21-year-old shortstop has never played above Rookie ball.

"I think it's very challenging to keep someone who has been on a short-season club on a Major League roster," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "But a team that had the space and might not be trying to contend this year can roll the dice. But I still think there's a pretty good chance we get him back."

Baseball operations director Nick Ennis pushed the selection, which was cross-checked by Kurt Kemp. The Padres have already said they'd like to add a shortstop to compete for the starting job with Luis Sardinas -- and Cordoba will not be that guy. That would seem to leave very little roster space for Cordoba, who, at the very least, could provide a speed option off the bench.

"He's a big league type of talent, and we felt this may be the right year to take him," Preller said. "Obviously, he's not played at a high level or at a full-season level. So he's going to have a challenge in front of him. ... But it's a guy that has tools across the board."

Preller is no stranger to Rule 5 success. Last year, he drafted four players, two of whom -- Jabari Blash and Perdomo -- completed the season with the club. Perdomo was one of the great success stories for the Padres in 2016, as he developed a sinker midseason and became arguably their most effective starter.

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