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San Diego Padres 2023 MLB Draft Review


See Also: 2023 MLB Draft Database

Draft Theme: Premium Defensive Profiles.

The Padres got one of the best defensive center fielders in the class when they took Dillon Head in the first round. They added another premium defender in the fourth round when they selected Homer Bush Jr. Third-round C Jandaniel Gonzalez has exciting defensive upside behind the plate with huge arm strength, and 10th-round SS Nik McLaughry was a three-year starter at shortstop for Arizona and just won Pac-12 defensive player of the year honors. A premium was clearly placed on defense with this draft. 

Most Interesting Day 2 Pick: OF Homer Bush Jr., 4th round

Bush Jr. is the son of seven-year big leaguer Homer Bush Sr. and brings both standout athleticism and big league bloodlines to the table. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound outfielder was a pick-to-click for many scouts in 2023 and he put together his best offensive season yet. Bush Jr. hit .370/.478/.500, and while he only homered twice, he added 19 doubles and cut his strikeout rate from 29.9% to 9.2%. Bush Jr. has a developing offensive approach with solid bat-to-ball skills, though he will need to add a significant amount of strength to his lean and wiry frame before he’s able to have anything more than 30-grade power. He’s a contact hitter who managed a 17% miss rate in 2023 and has extremely modest average and top-end exit velocities. He instead uses his plus running speed out of the box to pressure infield defenses and turn gapped singles into doubles. Bush improved his baserunning in 2023 as well, and went 25-for-31 (80.6%) in stolen base attempts. He should become an above-average defender in center field and has improved with his route-running and instincts. Bush has just average arm strength and will need to stick in center field to profile as an everyday player given his limited raw power.

Most Interesting Day 3 Pick: RHP Carson Montgomery, 11th round

Montgomery ranked as the No. 40 prospect in the 2020 draft class and was the highest-ranked prospect to make it to campus after going undrafted. He has flashed the solid stuff that made him such a prominent prep prospect, but he has also largely struggled in both a weekend starter and midweek starter role for the Seminoles in three seasons. His 2023 draft year was perhaps his worst season yet, as he posted a 7.00 ERA over 45 innings with a career-low 18.5% strikeout rate and career-high 16.3% walk rate. Listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Montgomery has a muscular physique and solid arm speed and attacks hitters with a lower, three-quarter slot and some crossfiring action out in front. He has a four-pitch mix, led by a fastball in the 92-94 mph range that touches 97-98, but hitters have teed off on it and slashed .343/.482/.574 against the pitch in 2023. He doesn’t have much life on the pitch or deception overall, and it’s consistently played down from its above-average velocity. Montgomery’s best pitch is a mid-80s slider with solid spin and around 11 inches of horizontal movement. He has also thrown a mid-80s changeup and an upper-80s cutter. Previously a strong strike-thrower, Montgomery looked out of sorts this spring in terms of command. His stock has fallen significantly since his prep days, but there’s solid arm talent still here for a team that believes it can give him the necessary tweaks to unlock him in pro ball.

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