06/05/12 11:43 PM ET
Padres go for power, speed on Draft's Day 2
By Chelsea Janes / MLB.com
"We came into the day with some guys we wanted to target and make sure we got, and we got quite a few of them," Padres director of scouting Jaron Madison said." Yesterday we took some arms that we really liked, and today we really focused on a few of those bats up top and balanced it out after that."
"Balanced" is a good word to describe the Padres' Tuesday haul of offensive prospects, as San Diego reeled in a mix of speed, power, and pure bat control in rounds 2-15.
Power was first on the docket, as the Padres grabbed two bona fide sluggers with their first picks Tuesday. The first, St. John's outfielder Jeremy Baltz (68th overall), was the Red Storm's home run leader with eight and has posted an impressive .534 slugging percentage in 2012. Two slots later, San Diego brought in an even better slugging percentage: Oklahoma City University catcher Dane Phillips and his .762 mark. Phillips clubbed 14 home runs for the Stars this spring.
"[Baltz and Phillips] both have feel to hit, they both have raw power, and we see future power production out of both of those guys," Madison said. "They can both really hit."
San Diego also welcomed speed into the fold, in particular in the form of Florida junior-college center fielder Mallex Smith (165th overall), a 5-foot-9 lefty bat whom the Padres staff hopes can roam the spacious Petco Park outfield sometime soon.
"This guy is [an] off-the-charts runner; it's lean, it's athletic," Padres vice president and assistant general manager Chad MacDonald said. "He's a table-setter, on-base guy, plus defender in center, only 19 years old, left-handed bat -- he just has upside."
On the other end of the athletic, center-field spectrum is University of Kentucky center fielder Brian Adams (255th overall), who at 6-foot-4 is more than half a foot taller than Smith and just as athletic. Adams received a football scholarship to play wide receiver for the Wildcats, but just weeks ago decided to forego the rest of his time on the Lexington gridiron in order to focus on baseball, a decision the Padres brass seems to think is a good one, despite the lack of opportunity to see him play in college.
"[We] actually worked him out and saw him hit [batting practice], saw him go through the whole paces," Madison said. "He's a guy with athleticism off the charts, speed, power, and just an interesting kid."
If the power of Baltz and Phillips balances out the speed of Smith and Adams in Tuesday's Padres Draft class, junior-college infielder River Stevens (285th overall) and SUNY-Stony Brook infielder Maxx Tissenbaum (345th overall) bring the pure hitter's touch. Stevens, a product of San Diego's Mission Hills High School, was the leading hitter in all of California junior-college ball in 2012, posting a .449 average. Tissenbaum, who joins teammate and Day 1 draftee Travis Jankowski as SUNY-Stony Brook Seawolves in the Padres' 2012 Draft haul, is Division I's hardest player to strike out this season, with an average of one strikeout every 37.2 at-bats.
"[River] has good energy about him, good hands, moves around, good athlete, and shows some real feel for the barrel," Madison said. "... [Maxx] was just a good leader. ... He's hit everywhere he's gone; he controls the zone and puts the ball in play hard. Those are the types of guys that we target."
The Padres brought in another homegrown talent in Chula Vista native Fernando Perez, an infielder who nailed down the No. 3 spot in a junior-college lineup at Central Arizona College at just 18.
While bats were the focus, the Padres also drafted six arms Tuesday, five right-handers and one lefty. All but one are 6-foot-2 or taller and, in keeping with the theme of the day, are a balanced mix of three high school pitchers, a Puerto Rican baseball academy product, a junior-college standout, and one college reliever.
MacDonald, Madison and the rest of the San Diego front office still have a long way to go to round out the 2012 class, as rounds 16-40 remain Wednesday. As the Padres well know, those later rounds can prove just as fruitful as the early ones, as a few crucial Padres were found in those picks, among them reliever Brad Brach, who was not taken until the 42nd round of the 2008 Draft.
Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.