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Padres Draft Preview
By Jim Callis
Scouting Director: Bill Gayton (first draft: 2001).
2000 Draft (First five rounds, picking ninth)
2001 Draft (First five rounds, picking 14th)
2002 Draft (First five rounds, picking 13th)
(*Did not sign)
That isn't to say the Padres will ignore high school players, and they've shown a knack for finding good ones. Second baseman Josh Barfield is the best position player in the system. Righthander David Pauley (eighth round, 2001) and lefthander Sean Thompson are two of San Diego's most promising young arms at the lower levels.
For the most part, the Padres have spent the last two drafts stocking up on bats, starting with picks Jake Gautreau and Khalil Greene, their potential double-play combination of the future. They've also brought in first baseman Tagg Bozied and outfielder Kennard Jones, among others.
Add it all up, and the natural expectation is that San Diego will look for college pitching this June while avoiding high school bats. But that's not necessarily the case, as California high school outfielder Delmon Young could be mighty tempting at fourth overall if he's available. San Diego hasn't selected that early since 1995, when they took Ben Davis at No. 2.
If they do take a college arm as expected, the Padres will be able to grab one of the best, such as Wake Forest righthander Kyle Sleeth or Richmond righty Tim Stauffer. Chipola (Fla.) JC lefthander Adam Loewen also could be in the mix if the Orioles don't meet his reported price tag of $4 million as a draft-and-follow, though that figure could scare off San Diego. It's nearly twice the club's record bonus for a draft pick: $2.2 million to 2000 first-rounder Mark Phillips.
The Padres have several attractive draft-and-follows of their own, most notably Clemson first baseman Michael Johnson. He has gap power and plate discipline and may be able to move to left field as a pro. Johnson didn't sign last year, but San Diego retains his rights because he's a fifth-year senior. The Padres will get another chance to sign him unless Clemson advances to the super-regional stage of the NCAA playoffs. Other priority draft-and-follows include Grayson County (Texas) CC shortstop Andy LaRoche (21st round), Tyler (Texas) JC righthander Jared Wells (31st) and Volunteer State (Tenn.) CC outfielder Chad Etheridge (45th).