Padres Go Against Their Grain

Draft not filled with safe college picks





SAN DIEGO—Padres fans who follow the draft were used to seeing the team choose safe college players from the big-time conferences.

But with a new scouting department in place, that changed radically this season.

Of the Padres' 50 draft selections, 35 were college players, but eight of those played in junior college, including their third-round selection, righthander Zach Cates. And 15 picks were high school players, including first-round choice Karsten Whitson.

"We don't look at a player's school, we look at his impact," said assistant general manager Jason McLeod, who arrived this season from the Red Sox. "We look at impact. We were aggressive with our picks. We were all on the same page. We wanted talent throughout the draft. I was really happy with the way it fell. "

McLeod and scouting director Jaron Madison took several high school players who slipped down the draft board because of their college commitments.

Whitson is committed to play at Florida, but he and the Padres appear to be on the same page as far as signing. After Whitson, the Padres took chances on talented players. Righthander John Barbato (sixth round) is also committed to Florida. Righthander A.J. Vanegas (seventh) has signed with Stanford and outfielder Jose Dore (eighth) is committed to Florida State.

"We went with some high school kids after the fifth round, and we think we got some really good ones," McLeod said. " . . . We aren't going to sign them all. But there is safety in numbers. Dore is really athletic. Barbato and Vanegas are two of the better high school arms in the draft. We have two months over the summer to further evaluate these players. We want to sign these kids, but we know we have some work ahead of us."

FATHER FIGURES

• McLeod likes the power bat of the organization's second-round pick, infielder Jedd Gyorko out of West Virginia, and the speed of center fielder Rico Noel, whom they took in the fifth round out of Coastal Carolina. Noel has 125 stolen bases in his last 162 games.

• Five players from high Class Lake Elsinore were named to play in the California League-Carolina League all-star game in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Righthander Brad Brach was joined by shortstop Drew Cumberland, second baseman Cole Figueroa and outfielders Dane Robertson and Blake Tekotte.