Padres Draft Report
Filling a hole at the hot corner
SAN DIEGO--In the four years since the Padres moved slugger Phil Nevin off third base, that position has produced just 34 home runs.
Tuesday, the team made a move to solve that lack of production, taking Wake Forest third baseman Matt Antonelli with their first pick in the draft.
Antonelli finished his junior season with a .333 average, 11 home runs and 38 RBIs in 55 games.
He may never be Mike Schmidt, but he feels can be a productive power hitter.
"I had seven career home runs until this year, than I hit 11," Antonelli said. "I'm not sure why I developed more power, but I put on 5-10 pounds, and I'm just a more experienced hitter.
"I can do a lot of things. I like to hit-and-run, and I can steal some bags. I've been a leadoff man all my life. I've always drawn a lot of walks. I believe the more you get on base, the more runs you score."
Antonelli was an all-everything athlete in Massachusetts in football, baseball and hockey. He has also played all over the infield in college: shortstop, second base and third.
And there is talk among Padres people of moving him to center field.
"I'm a versatile guy," Antonelli said. "I've played mostly third base in college, but I was a shortstop in high school. And I've played second and center. But I'd rather play in the infield."
Grady Fuson, the Padres director of scouting and player development, said Antonelli, who had 18 doubles, 15 steals and 39 walks this season, will be tried at third base to start.
"He's a superb athlete," Fuson said. "He has a chance to play, and excel, at a number of position."PADRES CONFESSIONS
• Trying to address a lack of position prospects in their system, the Padres took position players with four of their top five picks. Following Antonelli, the club took high school outfielder Kyler Burke with a sandwich pick, second baseman Chad Huffman from TCU in the second round and high school outfielder Cedric Hunter in the third. Fuson believes all three could develop into power hitters.
• Toward the end of the first day, the Padres took some chances, picking righthander Matt Latos, a high school player from Florida in the 11th round, and prep shortstop Grant Green in the 14th. Latos has committed to play at Oklahoma and Green at USC. But said there may be some money in the organization and believes the club has a chance to sign the pair for bonuses higher than their draft positions.