When writing about the possible options the Padres could go with during the second round of the MLB Draft, including high-ceiling prepsters Jeter Downs and Drew Waters, the intrigue over whom San Diego could take afterwards became too much.
As such, the Padres’ 69th overall pick during the Competitive Balance Round B, will be examined.
Even though the chances of taking a quality future major league player diminishes incredibly after the first round and trails off a lot more by the 69th pick, there will still be plus athletes left on the board.
Cole Brannen out of a high school in Georgia, and Daulton Varsho from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, are two players who fit this description, and could provide huge upside.
A left-handed hitter from the Westfield School in Georgia, Cole Brannen has a ton of potential. Regarded as a possible five-tool talent, the high school star possesses every skill a manager could want in a center fielder. His most impressive skill, speed, is a grade 70 tool presently and greatly used by this young man. He covers a ton of ground and makes spectacular catches on defense, while stealing a plethora of bases, due to his lightning-quick actions on the base paths.
While his quickness stands out the most about his game, the Georgia product has other skills that could be potentially plus attributes. On defense, he combines his previously discussed athleticism with a decent throwing arm. Although his arm is average at best right now, one must consider that this ranking is attached to a high school student and could very well be the floor. Either way, an average arm is easily a productive asset for any center fielder. Otherwise, the toolsy prepster is willing to go hard on defense, as evidenced by the fact that he ran into the ivy and brick wall at Wrigley Field to catch a ball during the 2016 Under Armour Game. This effort shows how team-driven the 18-year-old is, since he’s willing to risk his limbs to give his team the best chance at winning. Thus, Brannen is an exceptional defender; a possible top-tier defender in the future.
On offense, he has the ability to become a productive hitter. With a short and repeatable swing as well as good extension through contact according to the Perfect Game scouting reports, the draftee has a chance at hitting for a .270 average consistently. With that contact ability, he has a better chance at using his raw power in game-action. In terms of hitting for power, Brannen won’t “wow” anyone, but he can pose a threat, especially for pitchers who try to attack him in the zone too much. If they do, Brannen will definitely use his natural ability to put lift on the ball and get extra bases. As a result, 15 home runs as a floor is realistic. He could very well get better at hitting for power in the minors.
However, even if he becomes more of a singles-threat, Brannen is still a threat because of his quick-twitch running. When on base, which is predicted to be more often than an average (due to the fact that the speedster has a high BABIP), he can wreck the nerves of pitchers by stealing bases. On average about 30 per season. Therefore, Brannen is sound on offense and defense. He has the defensive capabilities to be a top-notch performer in the outfield and has the offensive tools to hit .270 with 15 homers and 30 stolen bases per season. Thus, he is a player with very loud tools, who might be able to deliver on his five-tool promise. He certainly has the drive and team-oriented focus to do so. As a plus, he’s extremely humble, noting how God is responsible for the success he has had.
After the second round in the draft, teams often try to limit their spending in order to stay under their allotted pool for the first ten rounds. With the Padres, getting the best talent available with their first and second round picks, an under slot deal could be wise. As such, Cole Brannen could be a wise pick. Although he is a high school standout and has a baseball commitment with Georgia Southern, a Division I baseball team, he has no desire to make good on that pact. Instead, he has told baseball news sources that he’s “110 percent going pro.” As a result, it’s easy to envision the Georgia Southern recruit taking less money than what he should get in order to turn pro. The only question is whether other teams will take this intent as a reason to take him before the Padres get another chance to at #69. However, if they don’t, the prepster could be a great value pick with the Padres, working at $11,839,000 for the first ten rounds and hoping to get a top talent that slips.
With all the skills and bargain value Brannen possesses, it might be confusing as to why the Padres could nab him after the second round. The reason for such slippage is because he hasn’t outperformed other high school students in his draft class…players such as Jeter Downs, Chris Seise, Drew Waters, Austin Beck, and Nick Pratto. In fact, his power doesn’t jump off the page as does the aforementioned players. However, this doesn’t mean that he isn’t supremely talented. On the contrary, he has great projectable tools and has shown them on the showcase circuit events such as the 2016 Under Armour Game and the 2016 Perfect Game All-American Classic. The most impressive evidence of his game is the fact that he has played on his high school varsity team since he was an eighth grader.
In short, if Cole Brannen is still available when the Padres pick at #69 he should be on the team’s short list.
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