The 2019 MLB Amateur Draft gets underway at 4:00 PDT Monday afternoon and the San Diego Padres hold the sixth overall pick. It’s their fourth straight year with a top ten pick, but if this and future seasons go the way the team expects, that won’t happen again for quite some time.
Last week we had a Q&A with Padres’ Scouting Director Mark Conner on the organization’s draft philosophy and on the day of the draft, we have a quick primer of what to look for as a variety of tweets, instant messages and DM’s come across your phone.
Who the Padres Will Take in the First Round
Post draft we will again have interviews with Keith Law of ESPN, Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline and Carlos Collazo of Baseball America for some insight on who San Diego selected.
All of them have posted several of their mock drafts, with the latest being listed below.
Law, Callis, and Collazo all project the Padres taking, C.J. Abrams, a prep shortstop/center fielder from Georgia who is believed to be the fastest player in the draft. Until Monday morning, Longenhagen and McDaniel saw San Diego selecting Riley Greene, a prep corner bat from Florida, who the others think will already be off the board. In their most recent projection though, they see a pivot away from the six position players who’ve largely been tagged as the top end of the draft to Texas Christian University lefthander Nick Lodolo.
Everyone has had Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, going first to the Baltimore Orioles, followed by Texas prep shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. to the Kansas City Royals for weeks.
What the White Sox do with the third overall pick now appears to be the first big wildcard. The public sources seem to think they’ll take 5-foot-11 Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn, but there’s less certainty about that. If they go a different direction, it may cause the Marlins to move off Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday, who the Padres drafted late in the 2016 draft out of high school with little hope of signing him.
“I think they would be really happy with either Abrams or Greene,” said J.J. Cooper, the Executive Editor of Baseball America. “I know there has been a lot of talk that A.J. Preller [the Padres General Manager] really likes Riley Greene, but Abrams might be the best athlete in the draft, and is certainly one of the fastest – and we know A.J. likes his athletes.”
Our Guess: The White Sox take Vaughn and the Padres get Abrams, who will eventually be a center fielder.
How it Works
The MLB draft is 40 rounds spread over three days. The first 78 picks will be announced Monday night, with the Padres picking again at number 48 and 73. Clubs regroup for rounds 3-10 on Tuesday and then sprint through rounds 11-40 Wednesday with the Padres picking sixth in each round.
Each draft slot in the first 10 rounds is assigned a signing bonus value, starting at a bit more than $8.14 million for the first overall pick and going to $142,400 for the final pick of the 10th round. The total value of all a team’s picks – in the case of the Padres, $10,758,900 – is their draft pool. Teams can distribute up to 105% of that pool amount however they’d like across their top 10 round selections without penalty, but they lose the slot amount tied to a pick if they fail to sign their pick. This provides strong incentive for teams to make sure they have an understanding of what a player will cost.
The Padres have agreed to significantly over-slot bonuses to early-round high school hitters each of the last two years. Early strong returns from Xavier Edwards – who earned almost $750,000 more than slot at number 38 overall last year – show the reward of that approach, though they’ve gotten less out of premium investments in Blake Hunt and Sam Keating from the previous year.
In order to finance those high costs, the club has doled out minuscule bonuses to college players in rounds eight through 10 under the current management group. Jerry Keel ($10,000 as a ninth-rounder in 2015), Jesse Scholtens ($1,000 as a 2016 10th-rounder) and Steven Wilson ($5,000 in the eight round last year) have emerged as interesting prospects for the Padres despite getting little acclaim or cash coming out of college in the back end of the draft’s second day. Others who have signed for four- or five-figure bonuses, though, have moved out of the system quickly.
Some of those savings each year have been deployed to cobble together a couple of signing bonuses equivalent to fourth- to sixth-round money for higher-profile picks on day three each of the last several years. Any player drafted in the 11th round or later can sign for up to $125,000 without issue. But when the Padres and 12th-rounder Sean Guilbe agreed on a $300,000 bonus last year, the overage counted as part of their pool spending. The club has generally built their draft class with the idea of spending on two late-round picks each year. Thus far, Joey Cantillo ($302,000 in 2017) and Jack Suwinski ($550,000 in 2016) show the most promise for paying off.
The Padres have also aggressively signed high school and junior college players in late rounds for the maximum that doesn’t impact their pool amount. Payton Smith, Tyler Mortensen, Jason Pineda, Noel Vela, Jaquez Williams, and Dom DiSabatino are all players interested enough in starting their professional careers that, despite flaws as prospects that might have otherwise sent them to four-year schools, earned them six-figure bonuses despite hearing 400 or more names called before their own.
While much of the narrative around Ty France‘s big-league debut focuses on overcoming odds as a 34th-round pick, the Padres were intrigued enough by his talent that they paid him the then-maximum amount of $100,000 – 20 times the amount of 10th-rounder Justin Pacchiolli. Draft position and perceived relative value are not always linked.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated at 9:45 Monday, June 3 to reflect new mock draft coverage by Fangraphs.
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