06/09/10 1:59 AM ET
Gyorko leads Padres' Day 2 prizes
West Virginia star likely to play second or third base
By Gina Mizell / MLB.com
He's never been to San Diego. But now, he'll need to get used to that California air.
The Padres selected Gyorko, a junior infielder from West Virginia University, with their second-round pick (No. 59 overall) in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday.
Gyorko, who many projected would be a first-day selection, is arguably the best player in West Virginia history. He is the school's all-time leader in batting average (.404), extra-base hits (113), doubles (73) and home runs (35-tie).
"I'm glad we didn't have to face him, because I'm not sure how you pitch to him," West Virginia coach Greg Van Zant said. "He doesn't swing at bad pitches. His eyesight is tremendous, because he really has great pitch recognition. He keeps his hands back, so he's not fooled on off-speed stuff very often, and he's very strong."
It's pretty clear that Gyorko can handle the bat.
"I'm a hitter, first of all," Gyorko said. "That's what I love to do, and that's what I was drafted for is my bat."
But where does he fit in defensively? That seems to be the question.
Gyorko played shortstop the past two years at West Virginia, but some experts have questioned his range on the infield and overall speed because of his stocky body, and the Padres' plan is to move him to either second base or third.
"He profiles probably more as an offensive second-baseman type," said Padres director of scouting Jaron Madison. "He has the tools and what it takes to probably try out third base if he doesn't stay at second, but he's definitely more offense right now. But there is a hope that he can stay defensively at second base or third base, and he profiles perfectly for both of those."
Gyorko played second base his freshman year at West Virginia, so he said he welcomes the transition.
"That was a while ago," Gyorko said of his time at second base. "I need to get used to the ball coming off the bat at different angles, and also work on my foot speed and being able to get extra reads and things like that."
But while Gyorko is not very familiar with the West Coast, the Padres have certainly become familiar with the West Virginia program. Two of Gyorko's former teammates are currently in the San Diego Minor League system, as Vince Belnome was a 28th-round selection last year and is playing in Class A Lake Elsinore, while Joe Agreste signed as a free agent last year and is at Class A Fort Wayne.
"I have a great relationship with those two guys," Gyorko said. "They were two of my better buddies on the team when they played [at West Virginia]. Now that they're [in the Minor Leagues], I can call them up and get some guidance and it'll be great. Hopefully we can kind of move through the organization together."
And although Gyorko has until Aug. 16 to sign or opt to return to school, he said he is ready for a change of scenery and to make the jump to the next level.
"Absolutely," Gyorko said. "I won't be going back to West Virginia."
Gyorko led a college-dominated Day 2 for the Padres, who selected nine prep stars in Rounds 2-30.
Round 2, Jedd Gyorko, INF, West Virginia: It's pretty apparent that Gyorko simply knows how to hit. But there have been questions about the second-team All-American's defensive range, speed and overall stocky body. Gyorko played shortstop at West Virgina, but the Padres already want him listed at second base.
Round 3, Zach Cates, RHP, Northeast Texas CC: A recently-converted catcher, Cates went 7-2 with a 2.54 ERA in his first season on the mound while striking out 91 batters in 67 1/3 innings. His fastball reaches 92-95 mph on a consistent level, and he also has a plus changeup that has been his out pitch.
Round 4, Chris Bisson, INF, University of Kentucky: As Kentucky's leadoff hitter, Bisson hit .329 during his junior season with five home runs, 43 runs scored and 35 RBIs despite suffering a broken nose after being hit by a pitch early in the season. He was a second-team All-SEC selection at second base in 2010 and led the conference with 32 stolen bases.
Round 5, Jablonski Noel, OF, Coastal Carolina: A 5-9 center fielder and an All-Big South First Team selection, Noel currently has a .348 batting average with 11 home runs, 62 RBIs and 81 runs scored. He also leads the Big South with 56 stolen bases, is an outstanding defender in center and comes from a program that went undefeated in conference play in the regular season and will host an NCAA Super Regional this weekend.
Round 6, John Barbato, RHP, Felix Varela (Fla.) HS: A 2009 Under Armour All-American and a 2010 Baseball America All-American, Barbato had a 1.64 ERA in his senior season at Varela and struck out 60 batters in 42 2/3 innings. His fastball can reach 95 mph, and he also has a curveball and changeup.
Round 7, A.J. Vanegas, RHP, Redwood Christian (Calif.) HS: Vanegas might not have the size or velocity of other pitchers in this Draft, but the AFLAC All-American does throw four pitches -- a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. His fastball usually sits around 91 mph, while his slider can reach 93. He is committed to Stanford.
Round 8, Jose Dore, OF, The First Academy (Florida): Dore hit .400 in his senior year, with six home runs and 25 RBIs. He was first-team All-County the past two seasons and signed with Florida State.
Round 9, Joshua Spence, LHP, Arizona State: Spence has not pitched in 2010 because of an arm injury, but he went 10-1 with a 2.37 ERA in 2009 for a Sun Devil team that finished third at the College World Series. He was a third-team All-American and first-team All-Pac-10 selection in 2009 and was drafted in the third round by the Angels before opting to return to school. His former coach at ASU, Pat Murphy, now works in the Padres' front office.
Round 10, Houston Slemp, OF, Eastern Oklahoma JC: Slemp led his team with a .410 batting average, 18 home runs, 84 hits and 70 RBIs in 2010. He was a first-team All-Region selection.
Round 11, Brian Guin, INF, University of California-Berkley: The switch-hitting Guinn hit .327 in 2010 with 12 doubles, two home runs, 30 RBIs and 47 runs scored. He also led the Golden Bears with 15 stolen bases.
Round 12, Christopher Franklin, RHP, Southeastern Louisiana: Franklin primarily worked out of the bullpen in 2010, posting an 8-7 record with a 3.87 ERA and seven saves. But he ended the year in the starting rotation, where he pitched three consecutive complete games.
Round 13, Miguel Pena, LHP, San Jacinto College North (Texas): Pena went 13-1 this season for San Jacinto with a 1.96 ERA. He struck out 83 in 87 1/3 innings. His team finished as the runner-up in the JUCO World Series.
Round 14, Thomas Medica, C, Santa Clara: Medica was named a Louisville Slugger All-American in 2010 after batting .386 with 13 home runs, 21 doubles, 67 RBIs and 60 runs scored in 2010. He has split time at catcher and in the outfield during his college career after suffering a separated shoulder during a collision at the plate.
Round 15, Sean Dwyer, OF, Tavares (Fla.) HS: Dwyer batted .444 with five home runs and 18 RBIs in 22 games in his senior season.
Round 16, Connor Hofmann, OF, St. Augustine (Calif.) HS: The San Diego-native Hofmann had a batting average of .438 with 49 hits, five home runs, 32 RBIs, 28 stolen bases and 36 runs scored during his senior season.
Round 17, Wesley Cunningham, INF, Murray State: Cunningham was named a Louisville Slugger Third-Team All-American and the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year after finishing the season with a .408 batting average, 22 home runs, 95 hits, 86 RBIs and 77 runs scored.
Round 18, Daniel Meeley, OF, Connors State (Okla.) JC: Meeley was second in the NJCAA Division I with 94 RBIs and fifth in home runs with 22. He was ranked the No. 50 junior college prospect for the MLB Draft by Perfect Game USA .
Round 19, Tyler Norwood, RHP, Southern Union State JC (Ala.): Ranked just behind Meeley as the No. 51 Junior College prospect for the MLB Draft by Perfect Game USA. Norwood's fastball can touch 93 mph, and he is also developing a slider and changeup.
Round 20, Paul Bingham, INF, Indiana University (Pa.): Bingham became the first IUP baseball player in 20 years to be voted a Division II Daktronics first-team All-American after a season where he batted .463 with 88 hits, 59 RBIs and 70 runs scored. He led the nation with 12 triples and ranked third with 45 stolen bases.
Round 21, Connor Powers, INF, Mississippi State: Powers hit .379 with 16 home runs, 18 doubles, 68 RBIs and 55 runs scored while playing first base.
Round 22, Tyler Stubblefield, INF, Kennesaw State: Stubblefield posted a .285 batting average with nine home runs, 34 RBIs, 53 runs scored and 20 stolen bases in 2010.
Round 23, Xorge Carillo, C, Arizona State: The second Sun Devil taken by the Padres in 2010, Carillo was hampered by a forearm injury for much of this season but has hit .353 with two home runs, seven RBIs and 10 runs scored in 16 games.
Round 24, Rocky Gale, C, University of Portland: Gale was named the WCC Defensive Player of the Year after throwing out 18 of 23 attempted base-stealers. He also hit .347 with two home runs and 16 RBIs.
Round 25, Josue Montanez, LHP, Ramon Vila Mayo (P.R.) HS: A 6-2 Southpaw from Puerto Rico, Montanez has a fastball in the high 80s.
Round 26, Cory Hahn, Mater Dei (Calif.) HS: Hahn Hit .367 with 17 RBIs and 29 runs scored in his senior season. Though at 5-10, he's undersized in the outfield, he has a great throwing arm and can also run well.
Round 27, Matthew Branham, RHP, University of South Carolina Upstate: An All-Atlantic Sun second-team selection, Branham was 6-3 with a 4.20 ERA in his senior season. He stands 6-4 and struck out more than one batter per inning in 2010.
Round 28, Jacoby Almaraz, INF, Lady Bird Johnson (Texas) HS: The 6-3 Almaraz had a .390 average while playing third base this season and is the son of a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Round 29, Mykal Stokes, OF, Orange Coast (Calif.) College: A former 41st round pick of the Yankees, Stokes hit .315 this past season with three home runs, four triples, 23 RBIs and 34 runs scored.
Round 30, Donald Snelten, Lakes Community (Ill.) HS: Snelten is a 6-5, 210-pound pitcher that struck out 64 batters in 36 innings in 2010. He has signed to play at Minnesota.
Gina Mizell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.