The 2017 MLB Draft was known to have a deep pool of talented high school prospects. The San Diego Padres are known to be in the midst of another enormous rebuilding process. Put the two together, and one might expect the Padres to tap into some of that elite prep talent.
San Diego did that and much more, selecting high school players in each of the first six rounds of the draft, marking the first time in Padres history that the franchise selected all high school players through all of Day One and half of Day Two of the draft.
The run ended with infielder Jonny Homza, a native of South Anchorage, Ak., who is believed to be the second-highest ever draft selection of an Alaska native. He followed pitcher MacKenzie Gore, the team’s pick at No. 3 overall in the fist round, catcher Luis Campusano, catcher Blake Hunt, center fielder Mason House, and pitcher Sam Keating. All six of those selections are expected to sign with San Diego, as Homza has already confirmed he will do in the coming days.
The high school first strategy is a bold one from GM A.J. Prellar, who spent the 2015 offseason gutting his roster of pricey salaries and watched the team scuffle through 2016.. Now, in 2017, the Padres need depth and talent, and they need it soon.
Still, the selection of high school talent is a clear indication that Prellar believes his roster and farm system are a long way away from contending. At the same time, highly selected high school players such as the ones the Padres chose are more likely to accept a below-slot signing bonus, which would allow Prellar and co. the opportunity to take a chance with a harder-to-sign prospect in one of the draft’s later rounds.
Whether the Padres’ bold super-youth strategy pays off in the near future or long term remains to be seen. For now, the franchise has drawn a clear line in the sand and given a very strong indication that it believes the current crop of teenagers is the best its seen in some time.