Looking back at every Padres first-round pick since 2010
2012 marks the beginning of the Josh Byrnes era as Hoyer left San Diego to join Theo Epstein in Chicago to bring the Cubs to their first World Series in over 100 years. Armed with the seventh overall pick and three more in the supplemental round, Byrnes was handed the keys to constructing the future of Padres baseball in his vision.
Max Fried (Seventh overall, Left-handed pitcher)
The first pick of the Byrnes era was Fried, a left-handed pitcher out of Harvard-Westlake High School. His teammate, Lucas Giolito, was selected 16th overall by the Washington Nationals after a sprained UCL caused his Draft stock to fall.
Ranked as the seventh overall draft prospect by MLB.com, Fried was noted for having an excellent three-pitch mix along with solid command of said pitches. After luring him away from a UCLA commitment with a $3 million signing bonus, Fried reported to Arizona to work his way up the ranks.
Fried quickly became the top prospect in San Diego’s farm system thanks to his advanced command. His ceiling continued to rise, especially after pitching to a 3.49 ERA in 118.2 innings with Low-A Fort Wayne.
Injuries derailed his rise in 2014 as the left-hander made only five starts in the season before undergoing Tommy John surgery. After the surgery, Fried was packaged alongside Peterson in the aforementioned Upton trade.
Now a Brave, Fried has seen postseason action while serving as a mid-rotation starter and occasional relief pitcher after recovering from the surgery.
Zach Eflin (33rd overall, Right-handed pitcher)
With the compensation pick acquired after losing Heath Bell to the newly minted Miami Marlins, Byrnes set his sights on Eflin, a high schooler from Florida, with the 33rd pick.
Eflin had previously signed a letter of intent to play his college ball at the University of Central Florida. Still, a $1.2 million signing bonus enticed him to begin his professional career instead.
A bout of mononucleosis held Eflin back in 2012. Still, back-to-back campaigns of over 100 innings pitched proved Eflin’s durability, and a combination of plus command with the potential of a solid three-pitch mix showed all the signs of a mid-rotation starter.
Eflin never got to showcase that promise as a Padre. Instead, he was sent to Los Angeles in the trade that made Matt Kemp a Padre and was immediately shipped to Philadelphia in exchange for Jimmy Rollins.
Eight picks later, the Astros selected another Florida-based high school pitcher, Lance McCullers Jr., as the 41st overall pick. Houston developed McCullers into an All-Star. Eflin developed into an average starter who hasn’t posted an ERA lower than 4.00 despite pitching over 400 innings.
Travis Jankowski (44th overall, Outfielder)
After Aaron Harang signed with the Dodgers, the Padres received yet another compensation pick. This time, Byrnes set his sights on Jankowski, a lanky speedster out of Stony Brook college.
Ranked the 43rd overall draft prospect on MLB.com, Jankowski was hailed as an on-base machine that could spray the ball to all parts of the field while burning opponents with his speed. Jankowski graded well as a fielder, and prospect evaluators firmly believed he had the arm to stick in center field.
The lone caveat to his game was the absence of power in his swing. That didn’t stop San Diego from giving him a signing bonus of $925,000 and assigning him to the Arizona Leagues.
Like Peterson, Jankowski was a monster on the basepaths, stealing 71 bases in 85 attempts in his 2013 season with High-A Lake Elsinore.
Injuries, however, hounded him in his 2014 campaign, but a strong return in 2015 punched his ticket for his big league debut.
When healthy, Jankowski served as a top-of-the-order hitter while performing as a versatile Swiss-army knife in the outfield.
After being designated for assignment after the 2019 season, Jankowski was traded to the Cincinnati Reds.
Walker Weickel (55th overall, Right-handed pitcher)
The final first-round pick for San Diego in 2012 was another Florida high-schooler in Weickel, whose athleticism and above-average fastball had MLB.com rank him as the 31st overall prospect in the Draft.
Thanks to a lower signing bonus given to Jankowski, San Diego was able to sign Weickel to an over-slot signing bonus of $2 million.
Unfortunately, Weickel struggled in the minors as, after throwing just 14 innings for the Arizona Padres in 2012, he was hit hard in every stop he made as a minor leaguer.
A move to the bullpen did little to help and his 2015 season was cut short by Tommy John surgery. He recovered quickly enough to pitch ten innings in 2016 but was cut after the conclusion of the season, ending a five-year run in the Padres’ farm system.
After a whopping nine first-round picks in the last two drafts, San Diego only had one pick in the first round after a 76-86 finish in 2012. 2013 was also the first year that Billy Gasparino served as scouting director after the departure of Jaron Madison.
Hunter Renfroe (13th overall, Outfielder)
The decision to turn down the Red Sox after Boston drafted him in the 31st round of the 2010 Draft paid off for Renfroe, a power-hitting outfielder from Mississippi State, as he instead went 13th overall to San Diego three years later.
Rated as the 28th overall draft prospect by MLB.com, Renfroe was noted for having “outstanding raw power” alongside a powerful right arm. However, the swing-and-miss in his plate approach represented some risk for those who drafted him.
Byrnes and his staff took that chance by drafting him, and Renfroe rewarded their gamble by mashing 77 home runs from 2013 to 2016. While the power was there, so to were the strikeouts as Renfroe consistently posted high strikeout numbers at every stop in the Minors.
Despite this, Renfroe appeared in the 2016 Futures Game alongside fellow prospects Manuel Margot and Carlos Asuaje before being promoted to the Majors in September.
His performance in the big leagues was more or less the same as when he was in the minors: high power numbers (89 home runs) and poor on-base numbers (his career-high OBP was .302).
Renfroe remained a consistent starter in the outfield, and he seemed to have turned a corner after posting a .921 OPS in the first half of 2019. Still, after coming back down to Earth with a .592 OPS in the second half, San Diego traded Renfroe to the Tampa Bay Rays for Tommy Pham and Jake Cronenworth.
2014 was the final year that Josh Byrnes was in control of the Padres and their Draft before being replaced by the current General Manager, AJ Preller. In his final draft class, Byrnes selected a player who would go own to nearly win the National League Rookie of the Year, but not in San Diego colors.
Trea Turner (13th overall, Shortstop)
North Carolina State produced two first-round picks in the 2014 Draft: pitcher Carlos Rodon to the Chicago White Sox and Turner to the Padres.
The 14th overall prospect on MLB.com’s list, Turner made waves with his top-of-the-line speed ad overall control of the strike zone. He fell to 13th overall, where San Diego eagerly drafted him and signed to a contract with a $2.9 million signing bonus.
After playing 69 games after being drafted, Turner saw himself as the player-to-be-named later in the trade mentioned above with Washington and Tampa Bay. However, MLB rules stated that Turner, who was drafted in 2014, was ineligible to be traded within a year of him being drafted, thus forcing him to spend half a season as a lame-duck Padre.
Once a National, Turner developed into an above-average hitter with a unique combination of speed and power while manning both the center field and shortstop positions.
Turner finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2016 behind Corey Seager and was an integral part of Washington’sWorld Series win in 2019.
San Diego had no picks in the first round after surrounding their first pick after signing James Shields and trading away their Competitive Balance Round A pick to the Atlanta Braves to acquire Craig Kimbrel. The Kansas City Royals selected Nolan Watson with their pick in the compensatory round while the Braves selected Austin Riley with San Diego’s pick.
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I am currently attending San Diego State University while working on achieving a major in journalism. At SDSU, I write for The Daily Aztec while also hosting the sports radio show “Picked Off”, for KCR Radio. A loyal fan of San Diego sports, I hope to bring content that you will enjoy reading.
Ugh. 9 first round picks in 2 years, and a total crap out. Hard to believe. And Towers gets fired after winning 75 games, which is more than Preller has in any of his 6 years as GM.
Spangenberg was still a better pick than Jose Fernandez.