Yesterday, we talked with Carlos Collazo of Baseball America about the day one of the 2020 MLB Draft. Today, we dive into what the Padres did with their four picks on day two of the draft, highlighted by the selection of Georgia RHP Cole Wilcox in the third round.
MadFriars: You never really draft for need in baseball but the selection of Owen Caissie in the second round filled a big hole in the system: left-handed power in the corner outfield. In your scouting report of Cassie, you wrote that the power is real but so are the swing-and-miss tendencies. How much of a concern is the swing-and-miss tendencies and would that a low grade on his hit tool?
Carlos Collazo: I think that is difficult to project now. We had him in the top-200. I don’t think his swing-and-miss concerns are more extreme than a typical player with his profile. I think it’s also worth noting that he is one of the younger players in the class. He’s from Canada, so once he gets to face better pitching more consistently, maybe that’s something that starts to disappear from his game.
He was a tough one because typically you get a better feel for these kids when they come down to Florida; obviously, he didn’t get a chance to do that this year. But we had him as one of the top-two Canadian prospects in the class. I think the power is real, he’s got a big physical frame and I think just speaking to drafting for need, I think this is probably a guy that you are going to take your time with. By the time he is ready for the major leagues, the Padres’ outfield makeup could be entirely different.
But I think the talent here is exciting and again, it’s the Padres going for an upside play, which I really enjoy. They are one of the teams that consistently targets these high upside players and that’s fun.
For me, I think Cole Wilcox was one of the most interesting picks that the Padres have made in the A.J. Preller era because of his upside and the fact that most publications touted him as a mid-first round talent and you get that player at the top of the third round. Was his price tag the reason we saw him drop, especially after the first 15 picks or so?
Carlos Collazo: Yeah, I think that’s exactly it. There were rumors that Cole had a pretty high price tag leading up to the draft and I think you pretty much nailed it. Once he started to slide, it was just a matter of is there a team that is willing to pay him what he wants to sign and is there a team that can create that flexibility and has the bonus pool space to do that.
You saw the White Sox get pretty aggressive with their first two picks. They took two first-round talents in Jared Kelly and Garrett Crochet and presumably they are moving money around to do that. The Padres also definitely got two first-round talents in their draft this year. We had Cole Wilcox in the twenties, Robert Hassell in the teens, so that’s two first-round talents, in addition to the upside of Justin Lange and Owen Cassie, I think you have to be pretty thrilled if you are a Padres’ fan. I mean that value in the third round at pick number 80 is one of the best values in the draft in terms of talent relative to the spot you are grabbing him.
It’s another guy who has massive upside — a big frame, huge and physical, plenty of strength, a fastball that touches 100 mph and hits the upper-90s regularly. The biggest question about Cole was throwing strikes and whether or not if he will be a starter and although it was a very small sample this spring, he was taking all the right steps forward in that department. If he can throw strikes consistently and find his secondaries, you’re looking at a really impressive player for a third-round pick.
Assuming that Wilcox signs, if he a guy that has the potential to move through the system pretty fast? Or would you think he might be more of a project because of some of the flaws you mentioned earlier?
Carlos Collazo: I think he moves faster than some of the high school guys we talked about, certainly faster than Lange. There are still some things that need to be fixed. I don’t think it’s any massive change he needs to make. I think it’s just refining that control. If he shows that he can throw strikes, I don’t think there is any reason why he can’t move quickly. I would imagine he will have the endurance to get through the rigors of a pro season. It just depends on how well he throws strikes. If he shows that he can be in the zone and not hurt himself on the mound, I don’t feel like there isn’t any reason why he can’t move quickly from a tools and physicality standpoint.
Levi Thomas was another guy that made the top-500. When I looked at his profile, to me, he seemed like a guy that could end up a reliever. Is he a guy that you could see developing as a starter as he transitions to pro ball?
Carlos Collazo: I wouldn’t want to say that he can’t start now. He isn’t the biggest guy and doesn’t have the biggest pure stuff. I don’t know if his stuff transitions that well to a bullpen arm, to be honest. I think you are probably hoping that he can work his way into a back-of-the-rotation kind of guy or maybe a swingman type. He’s a guy who’s track record is better than his stuff. If he can continue to perform at the next level, that would be impressive. Again, it’s a question of how does that stuff play at the next level. I think it’s an interesting question to see what he turns into. I don’t have a clear role in my mind for him at the next level.
Thomas is listed at five-eleven and 185 pounds. Is he a guy that can add a tick or two with his fastball?
Carlos Collazo: Yeah, why not. I am sure he could add more strength or maybe have some mechanical tweaks. There are so many guys these days that are adding velocity or adding a secondary pitch, but he’s definitely not a guy that you would look at say we can see him growing into more because traditionally the scouts we talk to say ‘yeah, he’s still got room to fill out or add more velocity.’
I wouldn’t bet on him adding a ton more but again I wouldn’t ever want to say that he can’t add more.
When the Padres took Jagger Haynes in the fifth round, it seemed to be a completely off-the-board pick. I know he didn’t make your top-500 and he’s not someone that you had a ton of information on. But as more has come out, he ended up getting a fairly significant signing bonus that wasn’t as far below slot as I thought it would be. Was he even on the radar to be selected, or was it just a complete surprise?
Carlos Collazo: Well, it wasn’t on our radar because we didn’t have a ton on him going into the draft. Maybe I should have since he’s a North Carolina commit and that’s where I went to school. He got around $100,000 under slot, so that’s pretty good value if you like the player here for a high school pick because typically those guys are expensive out of high school. North Carolina is a good school with a good baseball program, so the fact that they got him under-slot is good.
We didn’t have a ton of information on him but he sounds like an arm strength left-hander who is mostly in the upper-80s. I saw some video that was passed along that showed him in the lower-90s this spring. So I think it’s another projection play. I’m curious to see more of him as we get more information when he does start his pro career whenever that happens. But you can project on the body, you can project on the breaking ball and this pick is kind of out in the open. I am curious to see how it pans out. It’s always fun when teams take players that you don’t really know about because you want to know ‘why did I miss him and what does the team like here?’