|Jim Callis' Quick Take|
|Arkansas lefthander Nick Schmidt was in the mix for three teams in the 8-12 range, and the Padres were happy he got to No. 23. His stuff is more solid than plus, but he pitches and competes well and should be a mid-rotation starter. Nothing wrong with that. However, with all their extra picks, San Diego could have looked for more high-ceiling players with their subsequent picks. If he hits, Florida high school shortstop Drew Cumberland (supplemental first round) will prove to be a fine choice.|
SAN DIEGO--All Grady Fuson could talk about before the draft was how much the organization needed middle infielders and catchers.
The Padres director of scouting and player development talked about how it was imperative the organization build up the middle, and that signing power pitchers Matt Latos and Jeremy McBryde from last year's draft would allow the Padres to "reach for a need" in the first round.
But when Arkansas lefthander Nick Schmidt, a polished college pitcher, slipped to No. 23, the Padres couldn't resist. Schmidt was tabbed to go as high as six, eight, nine or 11. He was 11-3, 2.69 this season. In three seasons at Arkansas, the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder was 28-8. In 251 career innings, he walked 105 and had 262 strikeouts.
Schmidt, whose fastball tops at 91-92 mph, was Arkansas' Friday starter for two seasons and threw seven shutout innings Sunday against Creighton in the Fayetteville regional. He's a pitcher scouts say will come fast.
"He's polished and has a clean delivery," Fuson said. "His fastball tops out at 92-93 mph, but he knows how to pitch. He compares favorably to Wade LeBlanc."
The Padres took LeBlanc out of Alabama with their second-round pick last year and he has pitched well in the minor leagues.
With Schmidt well over the 100-inning mark this season, Fuson said the organization would baby his arm for a while once he signs.
"When you pick 23rd, you never know what will happen above you," Fuson said. "You never know who will fall, who you may have a shot at. Certainly, you have to have a plan, but you have to be able to adjust."
The Padres adjusted later, taking shortstop Drew Cumberland from Pace High in Milton, Fla., with the 46th selection and Oregon State catcher Mitch Canham with the 57th pick.
They got a center fielder with the 64th selection, taking Danny Payne from Georgia Tech. At No. 40, however, the Padres took James Madison's slugging left fielder Kevin Kulbacki, who hit 19 home runs this season and 24 last year, when he led Division I. With the 63rd selection, the Padres grabbed lefthander Cory Luebke from Ohio State.
Fuson and scouting director Bill Gayton were especially happy to get Cumberland, an athletic shortstop.
Canham and Payne also fall into the athletic category. Payne, Gayton said, "has perhaps the best arm in college baseball."
• Shortstop Matt Bush, the No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft, has been shifted to the pitcher's mound. He has been sent back to extended spring training and will probably be sent to short-season Eugene.
• In a surprising move, righthander Clay Hensley was optioned to Triple-A Portland after his rehab stint. He lost his spot in the Padres rotation to righthander Justin Germano.