Padres start Day 1 haul with lefty arm
Arkansas' Schmidt headlines busy early crop for San Diego
SAN DIEGO -- There was an ESPN camera positioned inside the Padres' Draft room on Thursday for a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on when you collect front-office types and scouts together and try to get them to agree on Draft picks, let alone on lunch.
The camera light never went on, though.
It was probably a shame, too, as the buzz and bustle inside the team's Draft room surely would have made for some interesting television considering how busy the Padres were on the first day of the First-Year Player Draft.
Truthfully, team officials probably didn't notice, as they were too preoccupied plowing through a day that saw them select eight players among those first 87 overall selections.
"This was very unique because of the extra amount of picks today," said Grady Fuson, the Padres' vice president of scouting and player development.
The Padres had their normal first-round pick at No. 23 -- one they used on a left-handed pitcher, Nick Schmidt of the University of Arkansas -- then seven other picks before the end of the fifth round, many as compensatory picks for losing free agents.
If all those extra picks made scouting and evaluating players a little more taxing on the staff in recent months and final week leading up to the lottery, consider it a very nice problem to be faced with.
Fuson said that of the 60 players the Padres had really targeted, the team actually picked 10 of them, the most notable, of course, was a large, left-hander pitched who hailed from the Southeastern Conference.
No, not David Price.
Price went No. 1 overall to the Devil Rays, but the Padres were certainly pleased when the No. 23 pick came up and Schmidt was still on the Draft board. There had been rumblings that Colorado might take Schmidt at No. 8 and some thought that Seattle, at No. 11, was interested as well.
In the end, the Padres -- who found a little bit of everything on the first day of the Draft, speed, a little power and plenty of pitching -- got their man in Schmidt.
"We feel fortunate to get Nick in the first round," Fuson said. "We collectively saw quite a few of his starts down the stretch and we think he will be a great addition to the left-handers already in our system."
Schmidt, 21, was Arkansas' career strikeouts leader and ranked third in school history in victories with 28. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Schmidt finished the season 11-3 with a 2.69 ERA in 18 starts this season.
Schmidt has been the Razorbacks' Friday night starter -- a distinction that usually falls on a team's staff ace -- since his freshman year, according to head coach Dave Van Horn, and deservedly so.
"He's a great competitor and just a very, very solid pitcher," Van Horn. "He's just been so consistent for three years; you won't find too many bad outings in there. He competes and always seemed to get us into the seventh inning. That's all you could ask."
Schmidt seemed to be at his best in big games this season for the Razorbacks. He got the better of Price in a March 23 game against Vanderbilt, allowing three runs over his seven innings with eight strikeouts. Price allowed four runs in six innings and also finished with eight strikeouts.
Then on May 23 in the SEC tournament, Schmidt tossed a complete-game shutout against Alabama, allowing two hits with six strikeouts. Schmidt was nearly as impressive a week later in the Fayetteville Regional, tossing seven shutout innings in Arkansas' victory over Creighton.
Van Horn said Schmidt's fastball runs between 88-93 mph, and he has shown that he can keep it down in the strike zone consistently. Schmidt also offers a curveball that is said to be average along with a plus changeup that he "[considers] one of my best pitches. ... It's the one I like to throw."
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
"We look at him as a kid who can blow it by hitters," said San Diego director of scouting Bill Gayton.
Among their first 12 picks Thursday, the Padres selected a catcher, a second baseman, two shortstops, three outfielders and five pitchers.
The Padres like high school shortstop Andrew Cumberland, who they selected with the 46th overall pick. Cumberland, from Pace High School in Milton, Fla., was considered one of the fastest players in the Draft.
In fact, several of the players the Padres selected Thursday seem to fit the mold of players who might fare well at PETCO Park -- not so much players blessed with an abundance of power but guys who can run, play defense and get on base more often than not.
San Diego general manager Kevin Towers -- himself a former scouting director -- praised the work of the team's scouts and, specifically, the work of Fuson and Gayton for their efforts in assembling a first-day haul that holds plenty of promise.
"I know the work that goes into this," Towers said. "I think this draft -- like the last one -- will set this organization. I think we're headed in the right direction."
More on the Padres' picks after Schmidt:
Round 1A: Kellen Kulbacki, OF, James Madison: Kulbacki, who hit 43 home runs in his last two seasons at James Madison and has an advanced bat, draws comparisons to Nick Swisher. Kulbacki isn't blessed with great speed. He projects as a corner outfielder.
Round 1A: Drew Cumberland, SS, Pace High, Milton, Fla.: Cumberland might have been the one of the fastest players in the entire Draft. He's line-drive hitter who doesn't project to hit for much power, though he has good bat speed. There's some question as to whether he'll stay at shortstop.
Round 1A: Mitch Canham, C, Oregon State: Canham is still a work in progress defensively, though he's come a long way in the last two years for the defending NCAA national champion Beavers. The Padres like his bat, and the fact he's a left-hander is sure a plus.
Round 1A: Cory Luebke, LHP, Ohio State: Luebke led the Big Ten in ERA (1.95) this season even though he doesn't have a plus fastball. Luebke's slider is considered a very good pitch for him, and his command has improved. He has what scouts consider to be a projectable frame.
Round 1A: Danny Payne, OF, Georgia Tech: Payne has very good instincts in the outfield and is, overall, a very good athlete. He even doubled at Georgia Tech's closer this season. Not much power, but Payne is a gap hitter who can run a little.
Round 2: Eric Sogard, 2B, Arizona State: Sogard might have been one of the most advanced hitters in the Draft, and he's already shown that he can handle the wood bat during summer competition. There's even some pop in his left-handed swing.
Round 2: Brad Chalk, OF, Clemson: Chalk has been the starting center fielder at Clemson since his freshman season. He doesn't have any power, but has good speed. Really, Chalk just seems to have a knack for getting on base.
Round 3: Tommy Toledo, RHP, Alonso High, Tampa, Fla.: For a high school pitcher, Toledo is said to have a good feel for pitching, with a fastball that runs 90-93 mph. He has committed to Florida but could be swayed to sign.
Round 4: Corey Kluber, RHP, Stetson: Kluber has a nice, easy delivery with a fastball that occasionally touches 94 mph and a sharp slider. He's projected as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Round 4: Lance Zawdecki, SS, Lee University: Zawdecki has bounced around a lot -- Louisiana State, San Diego State and then Lee University in Tennessee. He actually had the first hit at PETCO Park. There's some pop in his bat, though his strong suit is his speed.
Round 5: Jeremy Hefner, RHP, Oral Roberts: Hefner saw a spike in his velocity after transferring to Oral Roberts from a junior college in Oklahoma. Hefner has good size (6-foot-5) and has experience as a starter and reliever.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.