06/04/2002 2:17 pm ET
Clemson connection for Padres
Club takes Clemson players with first two picks
By Sandy Burgin / MLB.com
Padres round-by-round picks
SAN DIEGO -- If the Padres' top two draft picks pan out, you won't have to hit the zoo to see Tigers in San Diego.
The Padres tabbed a pair of Clemson University Tigers -- shortstop Khalil Greene and first baseman Michael Johnson -- in the First-Year Player Draft Tuesday.
Greene, a power-hitting senior shortstop from Clemson, who is hitting .482 with 24 home runs and 79 RBIs, was chosen No. 13 overall by the Padres. Greene is a Golden Spikes Award finalist as the top College Player of the Year.
Johnson, a power-hitting first baseman with a .387 batting mark, 21 home runs and 74 RBIs, was chosen in the second round, 54th overall.
Greene, 5-10, 190-pounds and Johnson, 6-2, 215, will both be playing in this weekend's Super Regionals when the Tigers (50-14) meet Arkansas (34-26).
As Padres GM Kevin Towers said, hopefully both will play deep into June in the College World Series, giving Padres fans a chance to watch them play.
Towers said he felt that both players would move through the organization on a fast track.
Originally from Butler, Pa., Greene was drafted by the Chicago Cubs last year in the 14th round.
How did this guy go from being a 14th round pick to being a first rounder?
That was the question posed to Towers and Bill "Chief" Gayton, Director of Scouting.
"We had an opportunity to scout him a little better," said Gayton. "Abilities that we weren't aware of him before, and certainly the success he's had this year puts him in an area that very few players ever see.
"He's a candidate for the Golden Spikes Award and probably the leading candidate," Gayton said. "We are really happy that he was available for selection for us. He's power, he's a bat, a very good defensive player, strong arm, very agile. He's a thick body kid but very flexible, great body control, capable of throwing angles, just a well-round player."
"Chief and I got a chance to see both Greene and Johnson at the ACC tournament," said Towers. "The positional need was very important. We felt we had the depth in pitching and that Greene was the best positional prospect in the draft. We also liked Johnson and felt that both could move quickly through the organization much like Xavier Nady and Tagg Bozied."
"There are some people who might say Greene may have to play third, may have to play second," Towers continued. "But this guy reminds both Chief and I of Rich Aurilia, a guy that people were saying doesn't have enough range. But Greene is an offensive player, who has tremendous instincts. We've seen him make tremendous plays up the middle. This guy won when he was at Key West in Little League and won everywhere he's went.
"Six weeks to two months ago, Chief (Gayton) told me who he thought we were going to draft," Towers said. "And Greene just got better and better. And we liked Johnson a lot, too. You never want to show your hand, but we were extremely happy to get both of them."
Sandy Burgin covers the Padres for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.