With the MLB Draft just weeks away, its time to start thinking about who the Padres will be selecting with their picks.
The team has four selections in the first 78 picks, and will be looking to maximize talent while improving their already flourishing farm system.
The Padres own the third pick in the draft and have been rumored to be interested in Hunter Greene, Mackenzie Gore, Kyle Wright, and Royce Lewis. Who they select with that top pick has much to do with who is available when they draft. No matter who is selected before the Padres pick, you can be sure the team will get a fine young prospect.
The Padres own the #39 pick in the draft as well, and should land a decent player with that selection.
Recently in our EVT podcast, we had Hudson Belinsky of Baseball America. He told us about a few players the Padres have been linked to that fit the mold of being second-round picks. Among them, is a powerful right-handed thrower out of a junior college in Florida, named Nate Pearson.
The 20-year-old right-handed pitcher has had a breakout year this Spring/Summer. He has always had an above-average fastball, but in a recent bullpen session, Pearson was clocked at 101 MPH. That is not a typical speed for his fastball, but it shows you the arm strength and ability this young man has. 101 is no joke, and the scouts had a field day reporting on his recent velocity increase.
At 6′ 6″, he is an imposing force on the mound. He has excellent size and strength, but like any young player, there are some question marks to his game. The first concern is that he had to have a screw inserted into his throwing elbow when he was in high school. That was more than two years ago, and his arm strength does not appear to be an issue anymore, but there are certainly red flags when you see that. The Padres’ medical staff would certainly have to be positive that his elbow is structurally fine.
Pearson’s ability to throw fastballs by hitters has never been an issue, but some question if his secondary pitches will be solid enough for development in the pros. That is the second issue that some scouts question. Pearson repeatedly throws mid to high 90’s fastballs, but his delivery is not repeatable. His mechanics and motion need a little refinement as you can see in this video below. While the issues are evident, so is the electric stuff he possesses while toeing the rubber.
The San Diego Padres coaching staff can work with this young man. His slider looks serviceable in the above video. Word is, Pearson’s slider is a far more refined pitch at this point in his career. He also throws a curve and a change, but neither pitch is above average at this point. The arm is lively, and with his recent bullpen session exhibiting a triple-digit fastball, he will be selected high come draft day. Will that team be the Padres? Only time will tell.
Here is a link to a detailed report on Pearson that Hudson Belinsky wrote for Baseball America. The young man has been durable this 2017 season, recording a 5-2 record in 13 starts for Central Florida Junior College. He struck out 118 batters in 81 innings and 13 starts, while walking 23 and posting a 1.56 ERA. This after going 1-1 the previous year as a freshman at Florida International. He maintained a 2.70 ERA in 19 games (one start) and 33 innings pitched, while striking out 33. In an attempt to be closer to home and gain more opportunity, he transferred to junior college. It seems to have been the correct move, as he is surely to be a top-50 selection in this June’s draft.
I am not sure if Pearson will be there when the Padres pick at 39, or if the team even has any serious interest in him, but he is a name to keep an eye on. His stock is improving and at nearly 21, he has the ability to potentially climb the minor league ranks at a decent pace, something that the Padres may value as they look to gain relevance in a very tough National League Western Division.