Editor’s Note: We interviewed Carlos before the below-slot signing of Josh Mears was announced.
The Padres wrapped up their draft on Wednesday, selecting 41 players to further add to one of the game’s finest farm systems. San Diego selected high school shortstop C.J. Abrams with their first pick and made a few interesting selections in the middle rounds.
While no one will know how the class pans out for several years, it is interesting to try to figure out how the Padres did immediately after the draft ended. Few people cover the draft like Carlos Collazo, who is the lead draft writer for Baseball America.
Over the past year, Collazo has spent countless hours doing all of the dirty work: watching games and showcases, talking to coaches and scouts to compile the information that makes Baseball America one of the go-to places for all things draft.
Collazo spoke to us after the draft to give us some perspective about what the Padres did and to give some information about the players that the organization selected.
MadFriars: When you look to see how a team did in the draft, is it something that you see immediately or is really something that you need to have three or years worth of data before reflecting?
Carlos Collazo: You can tell what drafts excite you immediately, just based on the players that you personally like, or if you’re really confident in — for instance — our rankings. I do think you need a lot of time between the draft and these players going into pro ball and developing before you can really say what was a good or bad draft.
People like to grade drafts right away because they just want to know ‘did my team do [well] or bad’ but realistically, the way that the baseball draft works, you don’t really know until like six years down the line.
You mentioned that you can tell what drafts excite you right away. For you, what would you define as an exciting draft?
Carlos Collazo: One draft that stands out as exciting is the Mets’ draft. They were able to get Brett Baty (12th overall) and [high school pitcher] Josh Wolf with their first picks on day one and then they got [RHP] Matthew Allan who slid and a lot of people, including myself, assumed he was going to college when he wasn’t taken on the first day. The fact that they got creative with their money and got Matthew Allan in the third round, I think that is very exciting.
Getting players at a spot that you didn’t expect them to be or getting players that maybe you thought would be going to school because of how long it took them to be picked is exciting. Personally, as a fan, it’s a lot easier to get excited by a guy who has high upside even if those aren’t necessarily the smartest picks based on the track records we’ve seen from different demographics. So sometimes drafts that look a little bit bland and safe, those are the ones that actually pan out and you get more major league value. I guess it just depends on what personally gets you excited but those are some of the things that jump out to me.
When you look at the Padres’ draft, it seems like they made the obvious choice, based on what was left on the board in C.J. Abrams. What were your thoughts on that pick and is he a guy that ultimately moves off shortstop?
Carlos Collazo: I think if I had to guess shortstop or outfield, I would probably guess outfield because that seems like the more likely landing spot. It’s very tough to play major league [level] shortstop. But with that said, I think C.J. has all the natural skills and tools necessary to play the position.
When I got to see him this spring — at the National High School Invitational — with his high school team, I got to see him make a number of different plays: to the left, up-the-middle, to the right, at his backhand. I got to see how his feet and hands worked and his arm strength. In that look, he looked like he had all the chance in the world to stay at shortstop, so I think it just depends on the day and how much history you have with the kid.
I know some of the biggest questions are does he have a consistent enough arm to play [at short]. Can he throw from multiple angles? Can he throw from multiple slots? Does he have enough arm strength in the hole to make those plays that you want a major league shortstop to make? Those would be the questions. Obviously, C.J. thinks he is going to be able to play the position and obviously the Padres should be willing to run him out at that position until he can’t play it.
But I would say — and I’ve asked scouts these questions throughout the spring — what are the chances [of Abrams sticking at shortstop] and most of them give a higher percentage of him in the outfield when it is all said and done and I would tend to agree with those people because they have been doing it longer than me. I don’t want to say he has no shot — I would say it’s 60/40 outfield but who knows really?
Looking at their next pick, Joshua Mears was a guy that seemed a little under-the-radar on some publications but I know he ranked in your top-200. Was that a pick that was unexpected or did he go kind of where you expected?
Carlos Collazo: I did see some people thought that was an off-the-board pick; for us, he was a top-100 player. We had him ranked number 93 on our BA 500 board, so I didn’t think it was far off-the-board. The scouts that I talked to in the Northwest really liked his tools and the physicality that he has. He’s a big kid at six-foot-three and 235 lbs. is what we have him listed at.
He’s got quick hands in the box and plus bat speed. He’s got natural strength that comes with that frame. He has plus raw power to the pull side right now. He probably needs to refine his approach to really tap into that [power] to all fields. I think he has really impressive athleticism, despite his size. He’s not the fastest guy; he’s an average runner now and that might even tick down a half-a-grade or a full grade as he continues to mature. He’s already a big kid for a high schooler. He’s most likely a corner outfielder and I think there’s a chance for him to have a really exciting impact with the bat. So I don’t think it was too off-the-board and as I said, he was a top-100 player for us. I think the Padres’ next pick was a little bit further off the board.
So what can you tell us about Comp Round B pick, catcher Logan Driscoll? For me, it seemed like an obvious under-slot deal but what were your thoughts?
Carlos Collazo: We almost didn’t have him in our BA 500 at all. I think it makes some sense [that he could be an under-slot pick]. When you look at some of the guys they took after the 10th round and there’s a guy like [11th-rounder LHP] Mason Feole who I feel might cost some money but is a good value to have and is a good talent. [14th-rounder LHP] Bodi Rascon and [15th-rounder CF] Andre Tarver have some upside and I just think looking at what San Diego did, they were a team that targeted upside.
Joshua Mears fits that category and [3rd-rounder OF] Hudson Head is a high upside guy. A lot of these prep kids and even Feole after the 10th [round] are going to cost them money so maybe you save some money with Driscoll there.
But [Driscoll] is a guy who has skills on both sides of the ball. He has above-average arm strength, he’s got some receiving skills he can work with and I think he has some power in the tank as well. He hit well this spring and as I said, he’s a guy that we almost didn’t have ranked. But as we go through our list and go over the players and then continuously cross-check them leading up to the draft, I got to Driscoll’s name and I [reviewed] at some of the scouting notes and thought ‘this guy is pretty good.’ We threw his name on the last about a week-and-a-half before the draft and I’m glad we did because clearly a team out there thought he was a day one pick.
You mentioned Mason Feole seems like a pretty obvious bet to sign for more than $125,000. What were your thoughts on him?
Carlos Collazo: We had him ranked at #176 on our list, so we would expect him to sign for more than the $125,000. He’s a guy that I got to see on USA Baseball collegiate national team over the summer. In 2018, his 120 strikeouts were the most by a Connecticut pitcher since 1979.
He’s a guy who’s pretty interesting. He has a funky, unorthodox delivery with a lot of moving parts and a pronounced head-whack. There’s some funk in the delivery for sure but I think that helps give him some added deception and allows his stuff to play up. He’s got a fastball that’s mainly in the upper-80s or low-90s and gets up to 93 mph. He has a really high spin, 12-to-6 curve that has some depth in the mid-70s and I think that is probably his best pitch. It’s a plus offering when he is on. Then he’s shown a changeup at times that could be a plus pitch as well. Like a lot of amateur pitchers, he doesn’t use it a ton.
I am not sure if he’s a starter or reliever profile — it depends on the velocity. You’d probably expect him to gain a little more on the fastball to be a starter but he was a very interesting day three pick to lead off with.
The Padres drafted a lot of college arms on day two but Head was the one upside pick they seemed to have in the third round. Is that where you expected him to go?
Carlos Collazo: Yeah, I think for us, we were kind of split on Hudson Head. There were a lot of teams who really loved the toolset. I think no team that we talked to would deny his raw physical tools. I think a few teams were a little concerned with the ability in the bat, but again, San Diego is a team that isn’t afraid to take a chance on some guys and go for some risky players who have upside and that is something that Head does [have].
I think for the teams that do like him, this was around the range they liked him in. He’s got above-average bat speed, a chance to stick in center field, he’s a plus runner and he’s got more pop than you’d expect from a guy who’s smaller but still has a wiry frame. My question with him is how much is he going to hit because he did put some gaudy numbers as a high school kid but he didn’t play against the best competition in Texas, so how well he adjusts to the pro game will be a question for him. If he manages to hold his own offensively, I think you have a really exciting, up-the-middle outfielder.
When you have later picks like Maurice Hampton and Josh Rivera who seem pretty adamant about not signing and going to school because they slid in the draft, what is the logic for drafting those guys? Is it to have a little time to try and build a relationship in hopes of changing their mind?
Carlos Collazo: I think [trying to change their mind] definitely goes into it. There are a lot of these guys that a team likes but there ‘ok, we aren’t going to have the money but we really like this kid and we probably know he’s not going to sign but we will take him just as a sign of respect.’ Or maybe, you draft him because you just want to talk to him before he goes away to college.
Every year, teams draft these high school players who have tools and upside but slide for whatever reason. Whether that is signability or just that the kid’s price isn’t what teams were willing to go for. Honestly, if the draft were fewer rounds than 40, then you wouldn’t see as many players taken who have no chance of signing. But both [Hampton and Rivera], when they went this low, we kind of expected that they wouldn’t sign.
Hampton in particular because he is going to be a two-sport athlete at LSU on the football field and as well as baseball. But sometimes you see these high school kids get drafted and three years later, the same team will draft them again, so we will see what happens. I would be surprised if they did sign but if something happens up-top or someone doesn’t sign who was expected to, then maybe you have a little bit more money, even after losing a bonus pool spot, if you were trying to overslot somebody.
The least you can do is give yourself a chance with a player, even if it is unlikely.
Are there are any day three high school players that you think that the Padres have a chance to sign?
Carlos Collazo: I think in general, if you draft a player in the 11-15 round range, those are guys that presumably you think that you will sign. You have the entire night after day two to figure out signability and do some math and see how much the top-ten guys are going to cost and where you’re going to save some money, so I’d imagine those guys in the 11-15 round range are going to sign.
[14th round pick LHP] Bodi Rascon and [15th round pick CF] Andre Tarver have some big upside, so they could probably do better for themselves if they went to college and performed but if they are two guys who are really not into the whole college thing and just want to play pro ball, I wouldn’t be surprised if either of them signed.
I think Feole is a lock to sign because in general, when I see a team draft a guy in the 11th round, I expect him to sign. A lot of these college players in the 10 to 30 round range sign every year; now which ones sign is hard for me to tell from the outside looking in. A number of these guys will sign.
What is it about Rascon and Tarver you like?
Carlos Collazo: I saw both of these guys last fall in a Perfect Game tournament in Jupiter. Tarver is just very physical with some strength and athleticism in the outfield. He’s a talented, two-way guy as a wide receiver as well. I saw him impact the ball very well. I think there is a lot of power that you can tap into. I think he has a pretty well-rounded package. The power projection is probably the biggest tool you’re looking at. He has a chance to play center field depending on how much you like him and how much you think his body is going to be able to hold up with his current speed. He was a bit of a split-camp guy; some teams were higher on the bat and some teams thought that he needed a lot of seasoning and more refinement offensively. Obviously, the Padres were one of those teams that bought into him. He’s exciting to me from an offensive standpoint.
Bodi Rascon is a huge, six-foot-five, 200-pound left-hander. He doesn’t have huge stuff now but with his frame and the athleticism he has shown, you got a chance for some really big upside. He’s been up to the low-90s, maybe 93 mph. He has a lower-slot delivery and gives lefties a tough look. I think he’s got the frame that you hope that he can start eventually as he continues to progress, but it’s a projection play with Rascon. With the frame and some of the spin he’s shown, it’s an exciting pick.
Do you think the Padres will save bonus money on guys like Joshua Mears and Logan Driscoll?
Carlos Collazo: I don’t know that [Mears] would get full-slot but it’s tough for me to really say. Just based on where we have them ranked on talent, maybe you can save a little bit. I don’t think you are going to save a lot with Mears because unlike some people, we do think his talent is really impressive. But like you said with Driscoll earlier, I think maybe that is a spot where you can save some money. He does have some leverage still — it’s not like he is one of these senior signs that the Padres did take in the first ten rounds and will sign for $5,000-10,000. But maybe Driscoll is an area where you can save a little bit.