The Padres, operating with a smaller budget and fewer picks than they’ve had since A.J. Preller’s arrival as general manager, completed their 2023 draft class Wednesday with a run of nine straight pitchers before finally breaking stride to select Korean-born infielder B.Y. Choi with their eighteenth and final pick.
The group featured several high-profile prospects, beginning with 11th-rounder Carson Montgomery, who was seen as one of the top high school arms in the nation in 2020, and Team USA participant Blake Dickerson. After that, the club that prides itself on scouting connections around the world called names from lesser-known ranks in high school, junior college, and universities.
“There was probably three or four times when I thought we had targets and we were going to land something,” said Padres scouting director Chris Kemp. “You’ve got to have a plan B and C really quick with how fast the picks go off. We had some high interest arms that ended up filling out our class.”
The Padres, who have been aggressive in recent years in identifying day three high school draftees, also selected lower-profile arms in righty Dane Lais and lefty Adler Cecil from the high school ranks. Cecil, out of nearby Temecula Valley High School, did not have an announced collegiate commitment. Lais, a big-bodied righty, was ticketed for his home-state powerhouse Oregon State before the Padres selected him in the thirteenth round.
Of the 11 pitchers the Padres selected in the 2022 draft, only ninth-rounder Dylan Nedved and twelfth-rounder Austin Krob appeared in games last season. They combined for just 13.2 innings total.
The club could be more aggressive in getting their pitchers introduced to professional ball this year.
“The high school arms will probably get going in the Instructional League I’d imagine,” said Kemp. “But some of these college guys they’re ready. We need to go back to the Cal League and win the Cal League title again.”
While day three focused heavily on pitching, the Padres were active with position players among their seven day-two picks. Starting with 17-year-old catcher J.D. Gonzalez and second-generation Padres draftee Homer Bush, Jr., the club focused on prospects who have, at least until now, played up-the-middle. Infielders Jay Beshears, Nik McClaughry and Choi could all be candidates to move to the corners quickly.
The club intends to let seventh-rounder Tucker Musgrove develop as a two-way player as he enters the system.
“He’s a guy who hit .400 for three straight years pretty much, and steals 30 bags. He ran a 6.5 at our predraft workout in Atlanta then got on the mound and was 93-94,” said Kemp. “He’s just one of these small school talents who didn’t get recruited out of high school. Kind of a late bloomer and it’s a great story.
Players will begin to report to the Peoria Sports Complex this weekend for physicals and could begin to appear in professional action by next week. In addition to their draft class, the Padres also expect to be aggressive yet again with undrafted free agents.
The influx of 25 or more players will necessitate a variety of moves for the Padres, who entered the draft with 11 spots available to stay under the domestic reserve cap of 180.
Padres 2023 Draft Class
|1||Dillon Head||OF||Homewood Flossmoor HS|
|C||Anita Otero Hernandez HS|
|4||Homer Bush||OF||Grand Canyon University|
|7||Tucker Musgrove||OF/RHP||University Of Mobile|
|8||Kannon Kemp||RHP||Weatherford HS|
|11||Carson Montgomery||RHP||Florida State|
|12||Blake Dickerson||LHP||Ocean Lakes HS|
|13||Dane Lais||RHP||Oregon City HS|
|14||Tyler Morgan||RHP||Abilene Christian|
|16||Sam Whiting||RHP||UC Santa Barbara|
|19||Adler Cecil||LHP||Temecula Valley HS|
|20||B.Y. Choi||INF||New Mexico Military Institute|