As we approach the last few hours before the MLB Draft, the San Diego Padres sit in an interesting position. The Padres have been linked to several high school pitchers, while the top of the board is projected to be ripe with college players.
Carlos Collazo of Baseball America has seen many of these players first-hand. Collazo is in his first full year covering the MLB Draft for Baseball America. Previously, he interned for MLB.com, including a stint in San Diego, where he covered the Padres. Carlos gives us some insight into the draft class and what the Padres may do as we draw closer to the draft.
MadFriars: Overall, how is the talent/depth in this class?
Carlos Collazo: It’s deep but there isn’t a ton at the top. This draft has a clear-cut, number one, in Auburn RHP Casey Mize. After that, it’s wide open. There is a lack of college bats after the top round. There are a lot of good prep arms available and that class of players is deep.
Is there any possibility that Casey Mize drops out of the top spot?
Collazo: I wouldn’t rule it out. He’s the best player in the draft — there are rumors that the Tigers are checking into other players but that seems like more of a leverage move. The Tigers have had a history of selecting college power arms so Mize seems likely to go there.
At #7, it seems like LHP Matthew Liberatore seems like the most likely pick for the Padres. Is there anyone else who could go in that spot?
Collazo: We actually have Liberatore ranked as the number two player in this draft class. It would be huge if the Padres could get him. The Padres should have their choice of high school arms, although there is a chance that Liberatore could go higher. LHP Ryan Weathers had a good year and could go in that spot.
Liberatore is the whole package. He is a polished left-handed pitcher. He has as close to an ideal pitcher’s frame as you can get. He throws a fastball, curve, change and has added a slider. His fastball sits in the upper-80’s to low 90’s, although last summer he touched 96 mph. He has clean arm action as well.
One player who has fallen in recent months is shortstop Brice Turang. Is there any chance that he falls to the Padres’ second pick (38th overall).
Collazo: Turang would be a tough sign if he fell to the Padres at #38. He hasn’t hit as well as he would have liked. I have no concern with him staying at shortstop. He has good hands and I am higher on him than the industry as a whole. He has a high price tag — and a commitment to LSU.
Catcher Noah Naylor has risen up the boards. He is intriguing for his power but also because his older brother Josh is a prospect in the Padres’ system. Is he a guy that could fall to the Padres at #38?
Collazo: I would be a little surprised if he fell that far. He is a good match with the Blue Jays and the Marlins. Naylor could have the best bat in the high school class. He has a track record of hitting against professionals, with his experience with the Canadian National team. He could move to third base as well.
You previously said that this is a very good draft for prep pitchers. What kind of options could the Padres have with their second pick?
Collazo: They will definitely have options as far as prep pitchers go. I would be shocked if RHP Carter Stewart fell to that pick. Kumar Rocker is an interesting guy but he may go higher than that.
Rocker has some of the best pure, raw stuff in the draft. He is physically imposing and can touch 97-98 mph with his fastball with a plus breaking ball. He has a good slider too and presently has three above-average pitches. He has good arm action to go with really loud stuff.
As far as position players [Indiana high schooler] Nick Schnell homered at a ridiculous rate this year. Outfielder Jordyn Adams had a loud showing at the high school invitational and several clubs are interested. He has an offer to play football at North Carolina so he has some leverage.
The Padres essentially bought the #74 overall pick from the Twins in the Phil Hughes trade. What type of guys could we see as possibilities there?
Collazo: There could be quite a few interesting guys there. RHP Slade Cecconi hasn’t pitched as much ast others but was hitting 97 mph last summer and has four potentially plus pitches, but he would be a tough sign. With the prep pitchers, there isn’t a ton of separation, so there could potentially be some first-round talent at that slot.