The A’s may have popularized taking college players in the draft’s early rounds, and clubs like the Blue Jays, Cardinals and Indians have had their own college-centric phases, but no club emphasizes college players more than the Padres, under vice president and farm director Grady Fuson.
With hard-throwing righthander Matt Latos in tow after signing at the last moment as a draft-and-follow, San Diego grabbed big, durable Arkansas lefthander Nick Schmidt with the draft’s 23rd overall pick. Schmidt, a second-team preseason All-American, was one of five All-Americans San Diego selected with its first eight picks.
The Padres also snagged James Madison outfielder Kellen Kulbacki (40th overall), Oregon State catcher Mitch Canham (57th) and Georgia Tech outfielder Danny Payne (64th) with three of their five supplemental first-round picks, and took Clemson outfielder Brad Chalk in the second round. Chalk and Kulbacki were preseason first-teamers, and Canham and Payne were third-teamers. (BA’s postseason All-America team will be released next week.)
If all five players sign with San Diego, they would join a growing stable of former college standouts, including second baseman Matt Antonelli (Wake Forest), outfielder Chad Huffman (Texas Christian) and lefthander Wade LeBlanc (Alabama) from the 2006 draft, and righthander Cesar Carrillo (Miami), third baseman Chase Headley (Tennessee), lefthander Cesar Ramos (Long Beach State) and catcher Nick Hundley (Arizona) from the 2005 draft.