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San Diego Padres 2021 MLB Draft Report Card

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Best Pure Hitter: Shortstop Jackson Merrill (1) has the physical skills to be an above-average hitter and an advanced approach for his age and experience level. He has a balanced swing, recognizes breaking pitches exceptionally well and does a good job hunting fastballs and driving them up through the middle of the field.

Best Power Hitter: Outfielder James Wood (2) is a massive physical presence at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds and already hits long home runs to the opposite field with little effort. He has a chance to grow into plus-plus power as he learns to incorporate more leverage in his swing.

Fastest Runner: Second baseman Max Ferguson (5) is a plus runner who flashes plus-plus times at his best. He played second base at Tennessee but saw time in center field after being drafted and showed impressive range with a good initial burst and easy, fluid strides.

Best Defensive Player: Wood is a plus runner who tracks balls with ease in center field despite his size.. He has a quick first step and glides smoothly across the outfield once he gets underway.

Best Fastball: Righthander Garrett Hawkins (9) has a high-spin fastball that sits 93-97 mph and gets excellent carry through the strike zone. He struck out 27 batters in 15.1 innings after being drafted, largely by getting swings and misses on his fastball.

Best Secondary Pitch: Righthander Kevin Kopps (3) went 12-1, 0.90 and won the Golden Spikes Award at Arkansas on the strength of his slider. It’s a vertical slider in the mid-80s with hard, late drop and gets swings and misses both in and out of the strike zone. His ability to command and repeat his slider makes it a plus-plus offering that batters struggle to hit even when they know it’s coming.

Best Pro Debut: Wood hit .372/.465/.535 and earned rave reviews as arguably the best prospect in the Arizona Complex League. Beyond the stat line, he showed better-than-expected contact skills and defense to go with his prodigious power potential.

Best Athlete: Wood is uniquely coordinated and athletic for his size as a 6-foot-7 teenager with plus speed and excellent body control. He’s a smooth, graceful runner when he gets underway.

Most Intriguing Background: Righthander River Ryan (17) is the son of former Phillies minor leaguer Sean Ryan and the younger brother of current Rangers minor league pitcher Ryder Ryan. Wood’s father, Kenny Wood, was a college basketball star at Richmond and was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 2011.

Closest To The Majors: Kopps’ 90-94 mph fastball, devastating slider and advanced feel for commanding and repeating his pitches should have him in the Padres bullpen shortly. He has a chance to become a high-leverage, late-inning reliever.

Best Late-Round Pick: Ryan starred playing both ways at UNC-Pembroke. The Padres drafted him as a pitcher but, wary of overtaxing his arm, let him hit as a DH in the Arizona Complex League. He hit .308/.349/.436, then went to instructs and sat 93-95 mph on his fastball with the makings of a power slurve. He’s an excellent athlete whose stuff has a chance to tick up once he focuses solely on pitching.

The One Who Got Away: righthander Chase Burns (20) was one of the top prep pitchers in the class but was strongly committed to Tennessee. He’s a big, physical righthander with a powerful four-pitch mix and has an excellent chance to be a first-round pick after three years with the Volunteers.

Kevin Alcantara Billmitchell

2021 Arizona Complex League Top 10 Prospects

The Arizona Complex League received a late infusion of talent with the later July draft.

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