Padres Focus First-Round Picks On Spangenburg, Ross





SAN DIEGO—The Padres picked twice in the 2011 draft's first round, once at their natural 25th position and once with the No. 10 overall selection, which served as compensation for their inability to sign prep righthander Karsten Whitson out of last year's draft.

As such, many experts predicted that San Diego would to take a pitcher with its first pick. But that's not the way it played out.

The Padres first drafted Cory Spangenberg, a second baseman from Indian River (Fla.) JC, then took a power arm with Joe Ross, a righthander from Bishop O'Dowd High in Oakland. Both players have college commitments—Spangenberg to Miami and Ross to UCLA.

Spangenberg played third base this season to help the team, but the Padres called his name at the keystone. "He's one of the better college hitters in the draft," vice president for scouting and player development Jason McLeod said. "And he's a plus-plus runner."

The Padres believe Spangenberg will be a quick sign, and he said he "has all the intentions of signing this week."

"I'm a little surprised I went this early," Spangenberg said. "Really, it's amazing, a dream come true."

Spangenberg, a lefthanded batter, began his college career at Virginia Military Institute where he was the Big South Conference freshman of the year in 2010. He transferred to Indian River JC and put up monster numbers this season, hitting .477 with five homers, 11 doubles, 33 stolen bases and 32 RBIs.

Spangenberg played second base at VMI and shortstop in summer ball, but he said he prefers to play second base. Meanwhile, scouts say he has the skills to play center field because he's an above-average runner, grading out as a 70 on the scouting scale. He's been clocked at 3.5 seconds to first base on drag bunts.

Ross' fastball sits at 91-93 mph and has been clocked as high as 96 with good life. He has a sharp-breaking curve and a plus changeup. The younger brother of Athletics righthander Tyson Ross, Joe finished the season 5-4, 0.92, having worked 61 innings with an 85-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The Padres took another pitcher, Michael Kelly from West Boca Raton (Fla.) High, with the 42nd pick. The 6-foot-5 righthander led his team to the Florida state 5-A championship as a hitter and pitcher. Kelly's fastball sits in the 88-92 mph range and has topped out at 94.

At No. 54, the Padres took switch-hitting catcher Brett Austin from Providence High in Charlotte. A power hitter, he's said to have a sweet lefthander swing. His defense is questionable and his arm strength is said to be average. He has committed to play at North Carolina State.

The Padres' final pick on the first day was McNeese State shortstop Jace Peterson, who also served as a cornerback on the school's football team. A lefthander hitter, Peterson is said to be among the best athletes in the draft as a physical, speedy player with a strong arm.

"You look at our system and we have some bats at the corners," general manager Jed Hoyer said. "We're a little sparse up the middle, (so) we picked guys who can help us up the middle. These picks fit the way we want to build a team."