Over the past half-decade, the San Diego Padres farm system has undergone a fairly drastic change.
It is arguably at its weakest point in the past five or so years since it was ranked as baseball’s best in back-to-back seasons. While the organization has been able to hold on to nearly all of its more elite-level prospects, such as C.J. Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, Robert Hassell, and Luis Campusano, the once robust middle-tier of their system has been eroded by the many high and low profile trades swung by general manager A.J. Preller in his bid to build a strong contender.
While some, such as outfielder Esteury Ruiz, have done more than their share to push their way into higher consideration in the Padres system due to their play, the system’s biggest shakeup will come during All-Star week starting on July 17, which marks the first day of the annual MLB Amateur Draft. Luckily for the Padres, the 2022 draft class is particularly strong in the areas they will be picking in the first five rounds, especially in the first few rounds where the Padres hold three of the top 53 picks.
Let’s take a look at some of the more prominent yet still realistic targets the Padres can take with the 53rd overall pick in Round 2 and the 91st overall pick in Round 3.
Quick Note: This will be based on MLB Pipeline’s recently updated Top 200 Draft Prospects list. Different scouts and outlets have different rankings, so some names may be ranked differently elsewhere. Secondly, the MLB Draft is very unpredictable, so not only may some of these names go dramatically earlier or later, but the same may apply to other players with different rankings. These rankings also may have been updated, so tool grades may be subject to change.
We’ll continue to focus more on positions where the Padres will need more depth, particularly starting pitching and outfielders.
Jonathan Cannon | Starting Pitcher | Age: 21 | Height: 6’6 | Weight: 215 pounds
Throws: R | Fastball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Cutter: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 60 | FV: 50
A towering right-hander with plus command, Cannon has one of the higher floors of any starter in the 2022 class.
The pitcher sits in the mid-90s with a heavy sinker and pairs it with a plus high-80s cutter that leaves hitters off balance and guessing which direction his fastball will break. Cannon also mixes in two solid offerings in his slider and changeup, though his cutter remains his best put-away pitch.
Cannon’s ability to repeat his mechanics and pound the strike zone is the biggest selling point and should allow him to remain a starter at the highest level.
Jacob Melton | Outfielder | Age: 21 | Height: 6’3 | Weight: 210 pounds
Bats: L | Throws: L | Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Field: 55 | Arm: 55 | FV: 50
After flashing impressive hitting abilities in 2021, Melton carved out a 2022 campaign so impressive that he is now a lock to go in the first two rounds of the draft.
Melton showed the ability to hit for both average and power from the left side of the plate, though scouts don’t quite feel they’ve seen enough from him to grade either of his offensive tools as anything above average. A big reason for Melton’s hype stems from his abilities on the other side of the ball. Melton is an above-average runner, and that, combined with plus defensive instincts and an above-average arm, gives him a plus defensive profile in all three outfield positions.
Melton will need to prove his offense from 2022 was no mere fluke to stick at the highest level, but his defensive profile should provide him with ample opportunities for playing time on a big league roster.
Roman Anthony | Outfielder | Age: 18 | Height: 6’3 | Weight: 200 pounds
Bats: L | Throws: R | Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Field: 50 | Arm: 50 | FV: 50
Anthony first gained attention with a 450-foot home run in Coors Field at age 17, but after a monster season at Stoneman Douglas High School, he’s rocketed up boards well into the top 100.
The outfielder has a fair bit of swing-and-miss to his game, but the power he generates from his left-handed swing is very real and could be plus someday.
Anthony isn’t anything special on the base paths or the outfield, but he has plenty of experience in center field and would be a solid defender in either corner.
Cole Phillips | Starting Pitcher | Age: 19 | Height: 6’3 | Weight: 200 pounds
Throws: R | Fastball: 70 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | FV: 50
Another target that could be dependent on previous picks, Phillips made huge strides on the mound until his season was ended by Tommy John Surgery.
Phillips’s fastball sat in the mid-to-upper-90s before his injury, reaching 99 mph and easily overpowering hitters.
Phillips also flashed an above-average slider and a solid changeup, with command not being an issue for the projectable right-hander.
Dalton Rushing | Catcher | Age: 21 | Height: 6’1 | Weight: 220 pounds
Bats: L | Throws: R | Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 20 | Field: 45 | Arm: 55 | FV: 50
Rushing is one of many offensive-minded catchers in this year’s draft, though he may just be the most well-rounded of the group.
Rushing showed an impressive set of offensive skills at Louisville in 2022, hitting for both average and power while recording nearly as many walks as strikeouts.
There’s no doubt his bat will be above-average at catcher, but Rushing’s skills behind the plate will need work before he becomes a decent receiver. Rushing has a strong arm and should be able to throw out his fair share of runners.
Jackson Cox | Starting Pitcher | Age: 18 | Height: 6’1 | Weight: 185 pounds
Throws: R | Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | FV: 50
Despite being one of the more undersized starters in the upper echelon of the draft, Cox has turned quite a few heads with his powerful profile.
Cox features high spin on both his fastball and plus curveball, with the former regularly reaching the mid-90s and the latter being a legitimate put-away pitch against all types of hitters. Cox also throws a solid changeup along with average control.
While teams will likely want to see Cox grow a bit more, his ability to generate velocity and spin will undoubtedly lead to his name being called fairly early in the draft.
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