Image credit: CJ Abrams (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
Unlike the NBA or NFL drafts, MLB teams do not draft for immediate need. There’s good reason for that, as even the most MLB-ready draft prospects usually take two seasons to get fully established in the majors. But as we ready for the 2020 MLB draft, it is useful to look at where teams are deep and where they are thin at the MLB and minor league level.
Also of note:
2019 RECORD: 70-92
STATE OF THE SYSTEM: The Padres again have arguably baseball’s deepest farm system, but that has yet to translate into wins in the major leagues. The Padres finished last in the NL West for the third time in four seasons last year and are on a run of nine straight losing seasons, the second-longest streak in baseball behind only the Marlins.
BEST DRAFT PICK OF THE DECADE: SS Trea Turner (first round, 2014). The Padres used their top picks to select LHP Max Fried, OF Hunter Renfroe and Turner from 2012-14, the franchise’s best three-year run of first-rounders in nearly 30 years. The Padres never got to reap the full benefit, however. Fried and Turner were traded as prospects before ever playing a game for the Padres, while Renfroe was traded to Tampa Bay last offseason. Since making his major league debut in 2015, Turner ranks in the top 10 of all MLB shortstops in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs, triples, and stolen bases.
WORST DRAFT PICK OF THE DECADE: RHP Austin Smith (second round, 2015). The Padres forfeited their 2015 first-round pick after signing James Shields and used their first pick of the draft on prep righthander Smith. He has a 5.22 ERA in five seasons and has yet to advance past high Class A.
DEEPEST POSITION(S): Pitcher. Righthanders and lefthanders, power pitchers and command artists, starters and relievers—the Padres have them all. Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, and Joey Lucchesi give the club three bona fide major league starters in their 20s, while Cal Quantrill, Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon and Ronald Bolanos all debuted last year and are primed for larger roles. Add in the game’s No. 1 pitching prospect in MacKenzie Gore, exhilarating flamethrower Luis Patino and an extraordinarily deep group of arms below them, and the Padres have the ingredients for one of the National League’s best pitching staffs in a few years.
WEAKEST POSITION(S): Corner infield. Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer are signed long-term, but the Padres need them both to be better than they were in 2019. Even if their contracts somehow became movable, the Padres don’t have much behind them. Ty France, Hudson Potts, Tucupita Marcano and Eguy Rosario project as backup/utility types rather than everyday third basemen, and there are no current or projected first base prospects of note in the farm system, although Josh Naylor could slide to first base from the outfield.
DRAFT TRENDS: The Padres have selected high school players from the Southeast with each of their last four first-round picks (SS CJ Abrams, LHP Ryan Weathers, 2B Xavier Edwards and LHP MacKenzie Gore). They’ve also begun leaning toward position players in the early rounds. They drafted position players with their top four picks in 2019 and three of their top four picks in both 2017 and 2018.