Padres Draft Analysis

Padres Draft Analysis

Written by: Tieran Alexander
Follow him on Twitter: @Tieran711
Follow Prospects Worldwide on Twitter: @ProspectsWorldW

The MLB Draft has finally come and gone with the Padres adding some elite talent and some not so elite talent to their farm in the draft. The Padres held six selections in the shortened draft this year with their first selection being at #8 overall. They held one pick in every round and an additional pick at #34 overall in the competitive balance round. In this article we will go over every player the Padres selected and I’ll give my thoughts on all of the picks. This will not include overall team or pick grades or say if these are good picks as I can not see the future, I’m just evaluating who the players they got are as prospects and what their upside might be. 

1.8 CF Robert Hassell III, Independence High School
18 Years Old – Throw: L – Bat: L – 6’2″ 195lbs – ETA: 2023

45 / 65 35 / 50 50 / 55 60 / 60 45 / 55 55 / 60 55
Present / Future Grades

The San Diego Padres chose to pass on the consensus top prep talent in the draft, Zac Veen in order to take the almost as talented Robert Hassell III likely in part because of Veen’s high bonus demands. Robert Hassell III is the proud owner of one of the sweetest swings in all of baseball, which is eerily reminiscent of Christian Yelich’s own stroke. It’s easy to fall in love with a player that has this sweet a swing and plus athleticism as well so it’s plenty understandable why the Padres regarded him highly enough to select him so early. 

Robert Hassell is often referred to as having the best hit tool in the prep class with some even going so far as to call it the best hit tool in the entire draft over even the elite college guys with incredible hitting ability, such as Austin Martin and Nick Gonzales. I certainly wouldn’t go that far in praising Hassell’s hit tool but it’s definitely at least a plus tool. The bat speed is tremendous and his bat control is one of the best in the draft, again with only Martin and Gonzales his peers in that department. His hands are explosive and lightning-quick, pulling the barrel through the zone early and keeping it in the zone for a long time. This leads to consistent persistent contact on a regular basis, especially against high fastballs. He is a pure spray hitter for the same reason due to his long timing window causing him to be able to get out in front of pitches more often and makes swinging late much less dangerous than for most. He has shown some feel for picking up on spin and good plate discipline to date but his true ability to control the strike zone is hard to assess until he faces high-quality competition. If he hits well in the minors to start than I expect I’ll end up shading his hit grade up to a 70 pretty soon.

Hassell’s power is what placed him below Veen on most draft boards including mine. His swing is flat with no steepness to it which leads to a lot of question over how many homers he can hit as a spray hitter with probably what will equate to a 35% flyball rate at best. The raw power also hasn’t looked great during showcases as his leg kick lacks the authority to effectively transfer his power as he draws back and slams down, without coiling his hips all that much. He has good hip-torso separation which makes up for some of the poor load transfer but he’ll need to adjust his stride to get more power. I think his raw is probably above average but with his flat swing I’m skeptical that he can get to enough of it for it play as at that level, even if he adjusts his load. It’s not as simple as just inclining his swing to produce more power either, his hit tool is directly tied to how long he keeps the barrel in the zone and tweaking that would cause the hit tool to take a step back. Some people think that he might have power left to grow into but I’m of the opinion that he is more lean than projectable. What you see from his body is probably what you get. 

That might hurt his potential offensive impact but the boon is it means he’s likely to maintain his plus speed and stick in centerfield. In June of 2019, he posted a 6.54-second sixty-yard dash which equates to about a 65 raw speed grade but I’m shading him down to a plus because I don’t think it plays at that level on the base paths where his only above-average acceleration causes it to play down a little bit.

I’m in the minority here but I think Robert Hassell III not only has a chance to stick in centerfield but to be above average there. He’s got the speed for the position and from what I’ve seen he’s good at tracking flyballs. I think there are some issues to clean up and his lack of elite burst will hold him back from ever being elite but he can play centerfield at a major league level. His arm is an easy plus tool as well. He’s thrown as high as 93 MPH off of the mound and in the outfield that velocity is a weapon that he wields excessively. He’ll occasionally rush his footwork causing his throws to sail offline but it’s a fixable issue and he has arm strength in spades. 

Robert Hassell will probably never reach the lofty heights set by MVP Yelich despite their identical builds and very similar swings but I think Marlins Yelich is very similar to what I expect Hassell to become. He has four above-average tools and one average one, this is potentially the profile of a regular All-Star with theoretical upside to be much more. I don’t consider Robert Hassell III to be better than the other top prep player on the board, Zac Veen but with the likely financial savings from choosing Hassell here, it’s hard to be upset with the decision that led to their third-round pick being who it was. 

1.34 RHP Justin Lange, Llano High School
18 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’4″ 220lbs – ETA: 2025

50 / 60 35 / 50 30 / 50 35 / 45 40
Present / Future Grades

With their second selection of day one, the Padres snagged a project arm with great projection and a huge upside in Justin Lange. He’s extremely raw and highly risky but it’s hard not to get excited when you have anyone with stuff of his caliber. 

Justin Lange’s fastball is an incredible pitch at least from a velocity standpoint. This spring he was sitting 91-96 MPH and would crest 100 MPH in shorter stints. He has incredible horizontal movement on the pitch as it glides hard to his arm side but it has more sink than carry at the top of the zone so he doesn’t miss as many bats as you would expect him to do against poor competition. If he can rotate his spin axis from the very laterally oriented version he has presently to a more vertically oriented one then you could see the heater become an elite pitch but with its present movement pattern, it’s hard to see it as more than a plus. There is risk in shifting the spin axis so drastically as he is more than a tick away from rising action that could undo a lot of things by tinkering with it so I remain skeptical if it is wise to mess with the pitch or just settle for the plus due to solely to velocity he has now. 

Justin Lange’s secondaries are very very raw. His slider is extremely inconsistent, at times an above-average breaker with a sharp bite and movement on both planes with good velocity sitting in the 86-90 MPH range but at other times it’s a below-average pitch in the 78-83 MPH range with no shape and inconsistent spin on it. The changeup is even more inconsistent, most the time just being a mid-eighties meatball down the heart of the plate but he’ll flash above-average fade to the arm side. 

Justin Lange has incredible athleticism and a very good projectable frame that could probably stand to add another 20-30 pounds of good weight. He has some issues maintaining his velocity deeper into games and adding bulk could help with that. His arm slot is lower than the standard 3/4 arm slot and I think it might be worth exploring if raising it would lead to an uptick in the slider’s effectiveness. His command is hindered by a long arm action that leaves his arm out of sync with his rotation and results in far too many pitches going completely off target. I think his command can maybe get to average but right now it’s nowhere near there and realistically it’ll always be below average. 

The upside is here with Justin Lange but there is so much more that could go wrong than with your typical first-round pick. The Padres pitching development team will have their hands full with Lange but it’s possible that if all goes well they wind up with a bonafide ace in the end. More realistically, you have one of a thousand hard-throwing relievers that is waiver wire fodder for most of his career. 

2.45 OF Owen Caissie, Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School
17 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: L – 6’4″ 190lbs – ETA: 2024

30 / 45 45 / 60 55 / 65 60 / 50 45 / 50 60 / 60 45
Present / Future Grades

Owen Caissie was the Padres selection in the second round and he was the first Canadian drafted this year. He was partly taken because the Padres are expected to sign him for around 1.3MM which is roughly $350,000 below the slot value of the selection and helps them be able to afford their third-round selection but he was also taken because he himself is a very talented player. He has a lot of upside and if he develops well he can be an impact talent at the big league level. 

Owen Caissie has serious power potential at the plate. He generates massive power with his strong lower half. He takes a hard stride forward when he swings that does a good job coiling his hips and then explodes forward keeping his torso and hips aligned. Ideally, you want some more hip-torso separation and he struggles to maintain his spinal angle at times but the ability to rotate is quite impressive and with a handful of tweaks he could hit for real power. He generates natural loft with his swing and can hit balls with authority in the air. He’s reportedly recorded exit velocities as high as 105 MPH as a 17-year-old so as you can see threw is real power upside here. 

The hit tool is the big question mark here as it’s questionable how he’ll handle pitches in the upper parts of the strike zone. His swing is short and compact but he gets the barrel in the zone later than most and his bat speed is only average. His struggles at the top of the zone leading to obvious swing and miss concerns and often will people question if he can hit enough to play in the big leagues. He shows good enough bat control and feel for the barrel that I think the hit tool is playable although it’s likely still only below average. Offensively he could end up profiling remarkably similar to this year’s #2 overall pick, Heston Kjerstad with both having big raw power and hit tool concerns especially at the top of the strike zone.

Right now Owen Caissie has the present-day athleticism to stick in centerfield but as he fills in I expect that he will wind up shifting to one of the corner spots. He has plus speed in the present day with a long stride that makes up ground quickly in the outfield but I expect that as he fills in and becomes stronger he’ll decline to only average or even below-average. His routes are crisp as well from the little I’ve seen. He’s not an explosive runner with poor acceleration that leads to his speed playing down on hard-hit line drives into the gaps and prevents him from stealing too many bases. His arm is an easy plus tool as he’ll regularly make throws at velocities exceeding 90 MPH. He’ll set his feet extremely quickly and fire lasers across the field to hose runners who try his dangerous arm. 

I’m not sure if Owen Caissie is worth a second-round pick on his own but in consideration to the rest of the Padres draft and how much premium talent they got to add by going under-slot here, it’s hard to complain too much. Caissie has a significant amount of upside and if they can address some of the concerns with his bat path then they could have a regular everyday player on their hands. The raw tools here are impressive, he just needs a bit of refinery. 

3.80 RHP Cole Wilcox, Georgia
20 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: L – 6’5″ 232lbs – ETA: 2023

50 / 60 55 / 65 45 / 60 40/50 55

With their third-round selection, presuming he signs, the Padres got the biggest steal of the entire draft in Cole Wilcox. That’s a big if as the sophomore is demanding 3.3MM in order to sign, a demand the Padres plan to meet. That’s about the equivalent slot value of the #19 overall selection. He’s more than worth it, however, as Wilcox is a consensus top twenty-five talent in the entire draft and the Padres managed to snag the talented starter at pick eighty.

Cole Wilcox’s mechanics are uh unique but not bad although some scouts will claim that they are. He has some crossfire action as his lead leg will land crossed onto the side of his drive leg which leaves the pelvis open and causes some command issues. That part should be fixed, his long arm action should not. His entire delivery is incredibly well synced as he is currently, the long arm action is arguably a boon right now. His arm speed is elite and the long arm action lets him keep the kinetic chain engaged while he is striding forward, it’s the same way a hitter will coil their load by pulling back, he just does it with a long arm action that lets him better propel his entire body forward when he has to rotate forward and deliver the pitch. His arm is incredibly in sync with his trunks and he stays on the rotational plane throughout his entire delivery. His arm slot is lower than is typical for a starter and leads to some relief questions. I, however, still believe that he can start with his durable frame, plus athleticism and repertoire of three plus pitches that remain effective numerous times through the order. For the same reasons, I think that average or even above-average command is possible from him as his two walks in thirty-two innings this season would suggest. 

His fastball is the pitch that grabs the most headlines but is, in my opinion, the worst pitch in his arsenal. His heater averages 95.5 MPH according to trackman data and he’s hit as high as 99.3 MPH in games with trackman data available, although allegedly he’s thrown harder in other appearances, even hitting triple digits according to some radar guns. The average velocity is 85th percentile at the MLB level and even higher probably if you were to only look at him compared to other starters. He has no difficulty maintaining that velocity deep into starts either. He even gets elite extension with his long stride and reach. His fastball doesn’t miss bats, however, as it is a sinker movement profile. He has good sink and run action but that won’t miss bats, still, he should get a lot of soft contact and generate groundballs so with a quality defense behind him his fastball will still produce outs. I don’t think he’s the kind of guy you try to teach a four-seamer instead of a two-seam option as he throws a true bowling ball sinker and not just a pitch with a sink. If he were to shift his spin axis so drastically it could completely undo all the progress he has made and likely would make him a worse player in the end. He could potentially add a cutter that would play well off of the sinker but it’s not mandatory for him to be an effective big league starter. 

His slider is one of the deadliest pitches in this year’s draft. He’ll throw a hard one in the 85-90 MPH range and it has absolutely insane movement for its velocity. He gets really good length on the breaking action down and out of the strike zone. He can manipulate it into a more typical slider to his glove side but vertically oriented is the pitch’s primary function. The pitch has some issues with consistency as he’ll hang them up in the zone more frequently than anyone would like but it’s flashed the upside of one of the best pitches in the game. Even now it still plays as above-average, inconsistencies, and all, due to how many bats he’ll miss with it when the pitch is thrown well. The pitch shares a tunnel with the heater and a similar enough trajectory and velocity that at it’s best the difference between it and his sinker is nearly indecipherable. This is a legitimate out pitch at the big league level and destroys right-handed batters.

His changeup is given some flack by some outlets but I think it can be a plus pitch with some work. Like with the slider it plays extremely well out of the hand and shares a tunnel with both the aforementioned pitches. He throws the changeup with an arm speed that is only slightly faster than the slider but with a movement profile much more similar to the sinker with some sinking action and massive fade away to his arm side. He paralyzes left-handed bats with the changeup and will jam hitters on the inside edge of the strike zone. He gets consistent whiffs with the pitch against both right and left-handed hitters as the pitch darts away from the bat as they try to predict a sinker or slider on it. Consistency is a bit of an issue with the pitch as often times he’ll overthrow and get firm with the pitch, he also has command issues with it later on in games as fatigue sets in but it flashes plus or even better upside. 

I don’t think Cole Wilcox will be that true bonafide #1 starter at the top of the rotation, as a primarily sinkerball pitcher that just isn’t feasible. I have him penciled in as a #2/3 starter who gets plenty of strikeouts with his secondaries and groundballs with his heater. His command will probably be the major determining factor in what he winds up becoming but there is incredible upside here and a floor too. I love this pick and if he signs, then even at 3.3MM this is an incredible value pick. 

4.109 RHP Levi Thomas, Troy
22 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 5’11” 185lbs – ETA: 2023

45/50 45/55 35/45 45/50 35
Present / Future Grades

Levi Thomas was likely drafted almost entirely as a cash saving endeavor seeing as he signed for a mere 80K. Being 450K under the slot value of his selection. In spite of the reasons behind drafting him, he’s a real prospect with some upside. Did he belong in the fourth round on talent alone? Definitely not but he’s got some upside that makes him more interesting than most of the undrafted guys. 

His primary pitch is his fastball that sits somewhere between 89-93 MPH in a typical start but he’ll touch 95 MPH at times. He’s 5’11” so as you would expect his extension as you would expect is bad but it’s even worse because his stride is fairly short causing the effective velocity to be even lower. The pitch has elite vertical movement and a high spin rate so, in spite of all his glaring deficiencies, the pitch plays as an average pitch that gets lots of strikeouts at the top of the zone but gets hit extremely hard when the batter makes contact. 

The slider is probably above average due to his vertical movement on it as it takes a sharp hook down and out of the bottom of the zone leaving batters swinging at thin air. The issues with this pitch is also velocity as he throws it in the seventies making the movement somewhat predictable and giving the batter a huge reaction window to identify the pitch. He’ll miss bats against the weaker competition he faced in college but I’m skeptical that the pitch will play at a plus level against the higher quality bats he’ll face as he ascends the ranks. I like the movement but he needs to add some deception to disguise the pitch or just throw it harder. 

His changeup is a fringy third offering that has more sink than fade and is most the time discernible from his fastball out of the hand. He has made strides with the pitch this year and it’s not impossible that he continues to do so in the future but right now the pitch has no big-league viability. This leaves him very vulnerable against left-handed bats and makes it hard to see him as anything more than a righty K specialist at the MLB level. 

His command is only average so it’s not enough to propel a wholly mediocre profile into something more. If he can add more velocity which I doubt with how filled out he is then you might have a solid prospect but right now I’m skeptical he’ll be anything more than waiver wire fodder. This pick was made entirely for the cash savings to sign Wilcox as on talent alone this is probably a seventhish-rounder by my evaluation with a full draft. 

5.139 LHP Jagger Haynes, West Columbus High School
17 Years Old – Throw: L – Bat: L – 6’4″ 170lbs – ETA: 2025

40 / 55 45 / 60 35 / 50 35+
Present / Future Grades

Jagger Haynes has already announced that he’s signing and it almost certainly has to come at under the slot value which completely shocks me. He had a commitment to North Carolina which is a really good baseball school but he was bought out for what was almost certainly less than 400K. Perhaps he wanted to play in the same organization as his neighbors Mackenzie Gore and Seth Frankoff. Jagger Haynes wasn’t ranked by any of the major publications as he used to sit 86-88 MPH but that changed during the quarantine. Unfortunately, it went completely under the radar due to the lack of the season. This is a good value pick in the fifth round, regardless of his signing bonus. 

Jagger Haynes as I already mentioned sat 86-88 MPH most of his junior season and topped out at 90 MPH last October. A month ago, Seth Frankoff posted video on Twitter of Jagger Haynes pitching with a Rapsodo. His fastballs ranged from 91.3-93.2 MPH and they showed significant carry at the top of the zone. His spin rates are largely average so the pitch is held back somewhat the velocity improvement and movement are incredibly nice. This is an incredibly lanky very young lefty as well with a 6’4” 170lbs frame at only 17 who could easily grow into another three to five ticks on his heater. The pitch is certainly going to be above average and it’s possible he grows into a plus pitch or potentially even double plus.

The only other pitch I’ve seen him throw is a changeup which I actually think is a plus pitch. He throws it with fastball arm speed and with a velocity gap of around 13 MPH between the two pitches. He somehow throws the changeup at a higher spin rate than the fastball which only 12 players in major league baseball (Min 250 total pitches) who use their changeup 2% of the time or more do and all of them except Tim Melville (who isn’t very good…) have at least plus changeups and more often than not double-plus ones. That doesn’t mean that Haynes will have a plus changeup but it is a point in his favor. A higher spin rate on the changeup then on the fastball could create an optical illusion of sorts as the faster spinning baseball might look faster than a fastball and lead to massive timing issues against it. This also might suggest that he could get more spin out of his fastball with some slight adjustments. The changeup also has great sinking action with fade to the arm side that mirrors the fastball’s movement pattern wonderfully.

Jared Haynes only throws two pitches right now so it’s hard to guess at if he can remain in the rotation but he certainly has the body and athleticism to do so. He throws from a lower arm slot than most starters do and it leads to undue stress on his shoulder which with his lanky frame might lead to issues maintaining his stuff deep into both games and seasons as well as possible injury concerns. He has a long arm action in the back as well that leads to some snappiness in his delivery and well he rotates fairly well in spite of it, there are times his arm will get off sync and lead to issues repeating his release point. I believe in the athleticism and frame but he needs a third pitch to make it as a starter and I haven’t seen that from him yet. There is serious upside here but right now it is primarily a relief only profile. Do not be surprised that if after next year he is soaring up prospects lists, all it takes is a few small boosts and suddenly this is a very attractive starting option. Incredible value for a fifth-round pick, coming in significantly under-slot and slightly past the place I would say his talent level would warrant selection. A great finish to an excellent draft by the Padres. 

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