Robert Hassell, a Tennessee prep outfielder could be San Diego’s top choice in this year’s draft. Photo Credit:

On the eve of the shortest draft in major league history, San Diego Padres’ executive Vice-President and General Manager A.J. Preller and Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Conner reiterated that they would follow the same strategy that they have in their previous drafts: take the best player available.

“If two guys are pretty much identical that is when you start looking at some areas of strengths and weaknesses throughout the organization, but both Mark and I have had plenty of conversations in the past that if we take six pitchers in the draft, then it’s six pitchers,” said Preller in a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

“If its six high school players, then it’s six high school players.

“Each year is a little bit different and you have to play to the strengths of each year’s draft because the next could be different.”

The COVID-19 outbreak, which ended the high school and college seasons significantly changed the way in which players were evaluated, forcing the organization to rely more on reports from the summer and previous years and yes, Zoom chats with potential draft picks.

Gopher’s pitcher Max Meyer could also be one of the possibilities for San Diego. Photo Credit: Minnesota Gophers.

“We did a lot of Zoom calls like this,” said Mark Conner on this year’s changes. “We had a better opportunity to get know the players as people, their backgrounds throughout the country and we did a lot of them.

“Also, we looked for different ways to research players, talked to different people so I think we actually feel better about the makeup of these players we are getting this year after not having that Spring session which will leave a little bit of a question on the physical side.

“The conversations went in all type of directions talking families, goals and all that good stuff.”

San Diego will have three of the first overall 45 selections, and the eighth overall pick, so despite the shortened format, the 2020 draft will only make an already strong system stronger. As we wrote in an earlier article, the four main publications that follow the baseball draft – ESPN, The Athletic, MLB Pipeline and Fangraphs primarily have the Padres attached to a high school outfielder from Tennessee, Robert Hassell who is yet another Vanderbilt University commit as was Ryan Weathers and Xavier Edwards from the 2018 draft.

College outfielder Heston Kjerstad could be an option for the Padres’ eighth pick. Photo Credit:

There are two other potential options, 6-foot-5 Florida prep outfielder Zac Veen, who is thought to be the player San Diego will take if they get an opportunity and 6-foot right-handed college pitcher Max Meyer from the University of Minnesota is another possibility. Finally, a name that has emerged recent days is 6-foot-3 left-handed-hitting University of Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad, a graduate of Amarillo, Texas’s Canyon Randall High School, home of the Sod Poodles.

As discussed on Keith Law’s podcast on Monday with Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline, because of the lack of Spring games, the media has not been able to see team’s general managers or scouting directors getting multiple looks at players they are thinking of selecting.

Which makes the 2020 MLB amateur draft even more of a guessing game than in previous years.






Posted by John Conniff

John grew up in Poway and has written for MadFriars since 2004. He has written articles for Baseball America, FoxSports San Diego, the El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Amarillo Globe-News, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and Pacific Daily News in addition to appearing on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He can also break down the best places to eat for all five of the affiliates. There is no best place to eat in Peoria, Arizona.

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