High Padres’ draft picks who have failed to live up to the hype

Credit: AZL Padres

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(Grant Little) Credit: A. Brault/ EVT News

A look at some highly drafted picks who have not panned out for the San Diego Padres during the A.J. Preller era.

Several players failed shortly after being drafted by the San Diego Padres.

Not every high pick is guaranteed success, and this list is proof of this statement.

The following 13 men were drafted within the first ten rounds of the MLB draft by the Padres. Some may still turn their careers around (there is undoubtedly hope), but others are no longer with the franchise. Some are entirely out of organized baseball altogether.

Scouting is not an exact science, and the Padres are not the only team to have players fall short after being selected early. That is just the nature of the beast. Do not fret Padres fans; the team has done exceptionally well under the A.J. Preller regime. Several players have emerged from the lower rounds to solidify the Padres as a top organization in baseball.

Year by year, let’s review some of the errors that took place on draft day.


Grant Little– (OF) 2nd round

With a .658 career OPS in over 400 at-bats and zero home runs, Little is certainly starting to worry the Padres. There is time for the right-handed hitter to become a relevant offensive force. There is speed to his game, but he is not a significant threat on the basepaths. The Texas Tech product is an adequate fielder capable of playing all three areas in the outfield. The 22-year-old will need to show some gap power in the coming years to be considered a top prospect in this system. For a second-round pick, the early returns are not good here.

Alexuan Vega– (LHP) 6th round

This southpaw was selected out of a high school in Puerto Rico. There is a lot to like about his arm, but he has failed to even come close to throwing strikes at the minor league level. The 20-year-old is young enough to get better, but a 2.150 WHIP in 42 innings isn’t a great early indication. Vega issued 37 walks in that time and allowed 37 hits in two years in the system. A 7.87 career ERA dictates that he will try to make the Tri-City roster out of late spring. Sixth-round picks aren’t supposed to have this much trouble advancing.


Mason House– (OF) 3rd round

Drafted with the hope that the bat was the real deal, House just has not been able to catch up to high-velocity pitching in the minors. In high school, he never participated in any of the showcases throughout the country, but the Padres took a chance on him. The left-handed hitter owns a career .695 OPS in 380 at-bats, recording 179 strikeouts. At 21, it is way too early to write off this Texan. It will take hard work and a better timing mechanism for him to develop into his potential. I contemplated leaving him off this list, but a third-round pick with three years under his belt should have played with a full-season team by now. 2020 will be significant for Mason House.

Credit: Journal Gazette

Sam Keating– (RHP) 4th round

This right-handed pitcher has not been able to progress. A career 6.67 ERA in 143 innings is concerning to the organization. The majority of that time was spent as a starter, and it could be time to make the change into a relief role for this pitcher. He has struggled striking batters out, recording only 90 in his career. Keating’s command has been an issue as 62 walks are not going to do anyone a favor. At 21, there is still time for Keating to get better and endure these painful growing pains. Pains are one thing, but his numbers just don’t add up to a fourth-round pick.

Alex Cunningham– (RHP) 9th round

One of the worst selections in the Preller era was this right-handed pitcher from Coastal Carolina. In February of 2018, he received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for amphetamine, a stimulant banned under the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The Padres released him May of that season, and he is not currently playing organized baseball. A sad story and something that was probably not the fault of the Padres. Cunningham had a dark secret, and it cost the Padres a ninth round pick.

Dominic Taccolini– (RHP) 1oth round

After two years in the desert with the Padres AZL teams, this right-handed pitcher was released and unclaimed by anyone. His career consisted of a 7.36 ERA in 22 innings of relief for the Friars. He struck out 28 in that time, showing an ability to punch tickets. But there was little else to be excited about. Taccolini was injured shortly after being drafted and never got on track after that. Tenth round picks are supposed to have more of a career than what the native Texan produced for the Padres.


Mason Thompson– (RHP) 3rd round

I really did not want to add this big Texan on this list, but he has disappointed the team so far. There is still upside with him as he was clocked at 98 mph last year in Lake Elsinore. Injuries have been a factor for Thompson as he has not been able to go out there and pitch consistently. He owns a 5.08 ERA in 159 innings pitched. The hurler progressed through low Single-A and could breakout in 2020. The soon to be 22-year-old pitcher is young enough to have a productive career when it is all said and done. I predict he will get better. For a third-round pick, it has been a bumpy ride, though.

Will Stillman– (RHP) 6th round

The Padres did not receive an excellent return from this right-handed pitcher. After just over two years in the system, he was released in May of 2018 from Single-A Fort Wayne. A 5.93 career ERA and a 1.537 WHIP were certainly not what the Padres envisioned when they selected him so highly in 2016. Stillman only pitched in relief at Wolford College, saving 28 games in three years. The Padres tried everything with him, including making him a starting pitcher, but nothing worked. Sixth round picks should have more of a career than what Stillman produced.

Boomer White– (2b) 10th round

A football star at Texas A&M, the Padres, wasted a high draft pick on this hitter in 2016. Wells lasted a year and a half with the organization before being released from the Lake Elsinore Storm in October of 2017. His career ended with a .590 OPS in 287 at-bats. The Padres got very little value from this right-handed hitter. A tenth round pick only lasting a year and a half in a system is a real shame for San Diego.

Credit: Journal Gazette


Austin Smith– (RHP) 2nd round

A.J. Preller’s first draft selection as general manager of the San Diego Padres was this right-handed pitcher out of a high school in Florida. Smith is still with the franchise, but he has not been able to get out of Single-A. He owns a 5.22 ERA in just over 300 minor league innings. Once a starting pitcher, the Padres now have him pitching out of the pen to mixed reviews. Velocity issues are concerning, but there is still time for him to get back on track. Still, second round picks should be more advanced than what Smith has shown so far.

Josh Magee– (OF) 5th round

Another player who is no longer with the franchise is this outfielder. Magee retired in March of 2018 after recording a .555 OPS in three minor league seasons with the Padres. The right-handed hitter showed very little power and struck out too much to be effective. He is currently still 22 years old, so it’s a bit of a mystery as to why he left the game. No matter the reasons, Magee was a horrible pick for the team in the fifth round.

Aldemar Burgos– 8th round

This 22-year-old outfielder was released in August of this past year after recording a .585 OPS in five minor league seasons with the Padres. The right-handed hitter made it to Lake Elsinore, showing some power, but very little else. The native of Puerto Rico is currently looking for work. The Padres got nothing in return from the eighth round pick, and that is not good.

Justin Pacchioli– 10th round

This outfielder was the first interview I did for EVT. The Padres got very little value from him initially as he put up a .664 OPS for Tri-City. The right-handed hitter was released in January of 2017 in a surprising move by the team. I am not sure exactly what happened here as the outfielder was given his walking papers so early in his career. He played three years of independent baseball before recently retiring from the game for good. For a 10th round pick, the Padres should have easily gotten more value.

2 thoughts on “High Padres’ draft picks who have failed to live up to the hype

  1. There are plenty of hits and misses, but a bigger factor is, perhaps, those who were passed up, who could have (should have?) been selected. It would be a fascinating article on how many good/great (at least potentially) players were missed in the 2016 draft alone. To make matters worse, the Padres had 3 first round picks.

    For example, in the second round they passed on top hitting prospect Bo Bichette (especially when they needed a SS/3B/2B), and Pete Alonzo (HR record holder for rookies and ROY), and picked a not-overly urgent, superfluous OF (Buddy Reed), whom they recently threw away for nothing.

    The first round is even worse, especially when they passed on several other top players, including two top SS’s, one of which is the 2nd rated prospect AND went to the hated Dodgers instead (Gavin Lux, the other being Carter Kieboom). They also passed on 2 more top 15 prospects in Alex Kirilloff and Forrest Whitley (Kieboom is rated 20th, and Dylan Carson is 24th, Matt Manning is 27th, and, ironically, they passed on Taylor Trammel, and had to trade for him, and he now sits at 28th). There are several others, all in the first couple of rounds, and it seems the Padres are very close to being O-fer. And yet Preller is still proclaimed to be a genius at scouting talent.

    1. Like you stated Tommy, as a GM you’ll have some hits and misses. To answer your question, the reason why Preller is a genus scout is because he created the #1 farm system in baseball almost overnight ( 1-2 years). It’s easy to go back and say “ we should of drafted this guy here, or that guy there.” But the fact in all of this is he created a farm system of at least 50-60 stud ball players deep but yet your coming to question his scouting talents because he missed on 10 draft picks over the last 4 years lol. GTFOH

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