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Hail, Cesar

June 7, 2005
By John Maffei

SAN DIEGO--Draft day was a time for the Padres to scream "Hail Cesar."

With their first two picks, the Padres selected a pair of polished college pitchers. First, they took righthander Cesar Carrillo from Miami 18th overall. They used the second pick, a sandwich pick at 35th overall, on lefthander Cesar Ramos of Long Beach State.

"Cesar Carrillo was a dominant pitcher in a strong baseball conference, and we're excited about having the opportunity to draft him," scouting director Bill Gayton said. "(He) has three quality pitches, including a fastball that has great life and late movement in the zone."

Carrillo, who was recommended by scout Joe Bochy--the brother of Padres manager Bruce Bochy, was the 2005 Atlantic Coast Conference pitcher of the year while compiling a 13-2, 2.22 record in 118 innings.

With their second choice, the Padres took Ramos, considered one of the most-polished pitchers in the draft. He finished his season with a 10-7, 2.64, with just 16 walks and 95 strikeouts in 126 innings. He was a sixth-round pick out of high school by the Devil Rays.

The Padres followed with third baseman Chase Headley from Tennessee, catcher Nick Hundley from Arizona, righthander Josh Geer from Rice and first baseman Mike Baxter from Vanderbilt.

"We wanted to stay with the college players," Gayton said. "That has been our philosophy, but we got away from that a little last season (when the top three picks, including Matt Bush, the No. 1 overall, were high schoolers). We wanted to get back to the college players this year."

The Padres had five picks in the top 98 and followed the pitchers with two hitters, Headley and Hundley. Headley ranked third in the nation in walks with 60 and is hitting .387-13-63. Hundley, a solid defender at catcher with a strong arm, hit .352-15-46 for Arizona. Gayton said catching is now a strength of the organization, but felt Hundley was too good a prospect to pass up. Geer was 11-4, 3.19 at Rice.

In the fifth round, the Padres got one of the drafts top college seniors in Texas shortstop Seth Johnston, who was batting .384-8-61 heading into super-regional.

PADRES CONFESSIONS

Gayton felt the Padres got a jump on the draft, signing draft-and-follow Kyle Blanks, last year's 42nd-round pick out of a small school in New Mexico. He spent this season at Yavapai (Ariz.) Junior College. He hit .440-8-47 this season with 23 steals. "He has a simple swing and unbelievable power," Gayton said. "And he's a plus runner with a lot of carry on his arm. We'll try him in the outfield and at first and see what happens."

The Padres also made a run at a pair of draft-and-follow righthanders, Chorye Spoone and Aaron Breit from last year's draft, but were unable to come to agreements. Spoone was a 36th-round pick last year; Breit was taken in the 46th round.

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