The 2019 MLB draft is fast approaching but first, let’s look back on the 2018 class one year later.
The Padres are climbing out of their long rebuild, acquiring several high draft picks along the way. With right around one full professional season under their belts, let’s review the top 10 picks of the Padres’ 2018 draft class.
Round 1, Pick 7: Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto HS (TN)
A.J. Preller stuck with his trend of high school lefty pitchers, and this one is looking like a slam dunk. He showed promise in his first dip into professional ball last season, starting with a 3.86 ERA in 9 1/3 innings in Rookie ball before being promoted to Single-A Fort Wayne, where he made three starts with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.82 FIP. However, this season, he looks like he has made an even bigger leap towards being one of the most elite lefty prospects in baseball.
At just 19 years old, he is fourth in the Midwest League with a 2.34 FIP in just over 30 innings pitched, with the third-best walk rate at 1.2 walks per nine innings. The way he is pitching, he should be in Lake Elsinore before too much longer. He is currently the 79th-ranked prospect overall in baseball and the tenth-best lefty. He should soar up the mid-season boards after a strong showing so far in 2019. So far, so good with the Padres’ seventh overall pick.
Round CBA, Pick 38: Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep HS (FL)
Edwards is your prototypical athletic shortstop that can fly around the bases with ease. His hit tool was graded as an average 50 by MLB Pipeline, but it has been anything but average in his first full year of pro ball. He has already played at three different levels and has had a wRC+ of no worse than 135 with his lowest OPS being .799. He has virtually no power, but his other tools make up for that as he has also stolen 36 bases in less than 100 pro games.
This season, it is much of the same for Single-A Fort Wayne, where he is hitting an astounding .378, which is the highest average by qualified hitters in the entire Midwest League by over 50 points. His on-base tool is perhaps his best, as he boasts a .435 on-base percentage this season, which is also tops in the Midwest League much thanks to a nearly 10 percent walk rate. In a system that is deep on shortstops, Edwards could quickly become either a coveted trade piece or a part of another big wave of talent just offshore in San Diego.
Round CBB, Pick 74: Grant Little, OF, Texas Tech
Little came in with a solid, mature approach at the plate out of college and so far that has manifested itself at two different pro levels. He started last season in Short-Season Tri-City, where he had a walk rate of 11.4 percent with a .351 on-base percentage. Like Edwards, Little does not have much or any, power to speak of but he is prone to the occasional stolen base, as he has 14 in 80 professional games and he uses his athleticism well to play multiple outfield spots.
He does not have the pure-hitting tool of Edwards, but he is a solid defender with good speed and a bat that is still coming along. He does have a 103 wRC+ through 41 games for Single-A Fort Wayne this season, and he has increased his on-base percentage to .361. His bat has some improving to do, but given his defensive versatility, as he also has seen time at second base, this was a good value pick thus far.
Round 3, Pick 84: Owen Miller, SS, Illinois State
Miller adds to what is a ridiculous amount of depth the Padres have at the middle infield spots. Miller hit the ground running when he started in Tri-City last season, batting .335 with a .835 OPS in 49 games. He was quickly promoted to Fort Wayne, where he continued to hit. He finished last season batting .336 with a 145 wRC+ and .864 OPS in 26 games in Single-A.
He impressed so much that this season, he got a few at-bats in Spring Training and went 3-for-9 with a home run. He landed in Double-A to start the year, and the hitting has continued unabated. Through 46 games, he is hitting .314 with a .823 OPS and five home runs. The power has been a welcome surprise since he hit four home runs all of last year between two levels. He also has been playing shortstop with some second base mixed in, increasing his versatility. He is currently the Padres’ 24th-ranked prospect.
Round 4, Pick 111: Dylan Coleman, RHP, Missouri State
Coleman started strong when he was placed in Tri-City after the draft, with a 3.00 ERA in five appearances, with 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He continued to be solid after he was promoted to Fort Wayne, where he had a 3.24 ERA and a 2.46 FIP in almost 17 innings. This season, he started in High-A Lake Elsinore but struggled mightily in his two games, allowing four runs with three walks, a wild pitch and one strikeout.
It seems that he will re-start his season with Tri-City when their season kicks off later next month. Coleman has a lively mid-90s fastball with a good slider. His curveball and changeup are works in progress, but as a reliever, two or three pitches will do the trick. He needs to re-gain his confidence and control, but at age 22, he is seeing pitchers younger than him soaring up the ranks.
Round 5, Pick 141: Dwanya Williams-Sutton, OF, East Carolina
Williams-Sutton has the build to be a power outfielder, at 6’2″, 225 pounds. He struggled to find his footing for much of his first taste of professional ball in Tri-City last year, with a 26 percent strikeout rate. However, he did manage to post a 101 wRC+ with a .320 on-base percentage, certainly respectable numbers. He started this season in Fort Wayne, and he has shown an improved approach, improving his walk rate by more than four percent.
He is yet to show much power as hit two home runs last season and has two so far in 2019 through 37 games, with a meager .320 slugging percentage. His bat has plenty of room for improvement, but with his athleticism in the outfield and frame, he can still develop into a quality outfielder.
Round 6, Pick 171: Alexuan Vega, LHP, Puerto Rico (HS)
The 19-year-old Puerto Rican only has seven professional appearances under his belt, all with Tri-City last season. Six of those were starts, and he totaled 15 innings with a 10.80 ERA and a 7.27 FIP, looking mostly over-matched. Vega was on the back fields during Spring Training earlier this year but is yet to appear in a game. He likely will start again in Tri-City, looking to improve on his less-than-stellar 2018 numbers.
Round 7, Pick 201: Jawuan Harris, OF, Rutgers
Harris was a two-sport athlete at Rutgers in the Big 10 Conference, racking up 37 tackles and three interceptions in 2017 for the Scarlet Knights before being drafted in baseball. He shows that athleticism in the field as he is the starting center fielder for Fort Wayne and has stolen 26 bases in just over 90 professional games. He does not hit for much power as he has five home runs in that same span of games, but his bat is still valuable.
In his first stint of pro ball, he posted a 113 wRC+ with a .360 on-base percentage in 49 games in Rookie ball last season. He skipped over Tri-City and is still getting on base at an impressive clip at .384. Even though his average is nothing remarkable (.217 so far this year), his walk rate is incredible, at 19.3 percent, which is second in all of the Midwest League. Harris puts together professional-caliber at-bats and is a great athlete, giving him a high ceiling as an outfielder.
Round 8, Pick 231: Steven Wilson, RHP, Santa Clara
Wilson came into Tri-City after the draft and put together three solid outings with a 1.80 ERA before moving up to Lake Elsinore. In two games, he struggled after leapfrogging Fort Wayne, allowing three runs in each of those appearances. Now as a reliever for the Storm, he is finding his niche. Through 22 1/3 innings, he is striking out over 14 batters per nine innings with a stifling 1.21 ERA and 2.12 FIP.
He could turn into a solid relief option as he moves up the ranks and he will likely end the season in Amarillo.
Round 9, Pick 261: Luke Becker, 2B, Kentucky
In 51 games for Tri-City last year, Becker struggled with a .206 average, .558 OPS and a 62 wRC+. He did show a good approach at the plate, which earned a 10 percent walk rate and boosted his on-base percentage to .289 despite his low average.
He will start this season with the Dust Devils again when they kick off in mid-June. Becker had a .410 on-base percentage and slugged .466 in his last season at Kentucky.