An Early 2019 Padres Draft Preview

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Credit: Baseball America

As the calendar moves into September, many Padres fans have started to get excited by the number of young players on the roster.

With a starting rotation containing four rookies and an entire starting lineup under the age of 29, the 2019 season can’t come quick enough. Are the Friars are ahead of schedule and can they play meaningful games come next September? Those are big questions.

However, before we get ahead of ourselves, the Padres are still a terrible team. With a current record of 55-85, the team is in line for the No. 3 overall draft pick in next years 2019 MLB Amateur Draft in June.

Current Padres’ top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore was selected in that No. 3 spot in 2017. A.J. Preller can hopefully select another young stud if the Padres manage to “tank” the rest of the season away and earn such a high selection.

In this article, I will go over some potential players Preller can  pick in that slot. We will account for talent, signability, and slot ramifications. Just remember a lot can happen between now and June, so these names should be taken with a grain of salt.

SS Bobby Witt Jr.

No talk about the top of the 2019 draft would be complete without Witt’s name in it. He is the consensus top high school position player and the favorite to go No. 1 overall, especially if the Orioles are drafting in that spot. Witt hails from Colleyville Heritage HS (Texas) and has been on most everyone’s radar for the past two seasons. The right handed hitter is the son of former big league pitcher Bobby Witt, a 16-year veteran. He possesses plus foot speed and a good all-around offensive profile, and the ability to play shortstop at the major league level.

The 6-foot-1, Texan can also hit 97 mph on the gun from the mound, but his future seems destined for the infield. He is currently committed to the University of Oklahoma, but if he does manage to slip to No. 3 for Preller, they will probably select him. Drafting him could cause some good problems down the road for the franchise. With Luis Urias already on the big league roster and Fernando Tatis Jr. close, the Padres have enough all-star capable shortstops. Not to mention the depth there presently is in the system beyond these two. Witt is only 18 years old and is still likely three or more years away from debuting in the majors. By then, Tatis will likely already be an established starter, if not a perennial all-star candidate, and thus making room for Witt will be difficult. However, talent should trump organizational fit, and if there is no room for Witt, he can always be traded for other assets that better fit the organization.

Credit: OSU

OF Riley Greene

Another name to watch out for is outfielder Riley Greene out of Hagerty HS (Florida). His calling card is his exceptional hit tool and plate discipline, and while a good bat can play anywhere, his defensive profile would allow him to slot into any of the three outfield positions. He hits from the left side, and his wiry frame shows he has room for growth in the power department.

He is currently committed to the University of Florida. While the Padres currently have a logjam of talent in the outfield at the major league level, if Preller sees something in Greene that he can’t pass him up, room can be made for an elite hitter with both great contact skills and plate discipline. The Padres currently lack a stud in the outfield; more a collection of young, unproven talent that could blossom, but no true all-star caliber players. Greene is definitely a name to watch for barring his strong commitment to Florida.

C Adley Rutschman/C Shea Langeliers

I put Rutschman and Langeliers together because they are both collegiate catchers with plus offensive profiles. To start, Rutschman is a switch hitter who possesses growing power, which is similar to Padres top catching prospect Francisco Mejia. He is currently enrolled at college baseball powerhouse Oregon State. He is also described as being an asset behind the plate, with a good arm and the ability to frame and block effectively. While he will likely never be as good of a defender as Austin Hedges, he seems to have both the offensive and defensive profile from behind the plate to be both viable and valuable as a player in the organization.

Langeliers is the starting catcher at Baylor University, and is seen as a top-level righty bat with plus power that plays well in games. He also has a good arm from behind the plate. The backstop does need to grow with his receiving and blocking skills, but his bat will play anywhere. Both would likely be blocked by Mejia and Hedges for the time being, but neither has established themselves as a catcher; Mejia defensively and Hedges offensively. With catching always in demand around the league, deals could be made to fit the organization.

RHP Brennan Malone

If this feels like deja vu, that’s because it is. Malone is a high school pitcher who hails from North Carolina whom the Padres could select with the No. 3 pick in the draft. Sounds like MacKenzie Gore, right? While Gore is a lefty, Malone chucks it with his right arm and can hit as high as 97 mph. He usually sits in the low 90’s however, and he doesn’t just rely on overpowering hitters. He possesses two plus secondary pitches in his changeup and curveball. The changeup sits 83-85 mph with fading action, while his curve sits 74-76 mph with sharp, 12-6 action. Malone provides a better organizational fit than the other names listed above because he is a pitcher. And while the Padres system is absolutely stacked with pitchers, room can always be made for another young stud either in the rotation, bullpen, or as a depth piece, because you can never have enough arms.

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