Kevin Goldstein on the Padres' 2009 Draft

Jorge Reyes

Baseball Prospectus writer Kevin Goldstein's popular column Future Shock is a must-stop for anyone interested in the minor leagues, prospects and the draft. His work has also appeared on ESPN.com in addition to a variety of radio stations, newspapers and Internet sites. We caught up with Kevin, a frequent guest of Madfriars.com, to get his initial reactions to the San Diego Padres draft.

What were your overall impressions of the Padres' draft, especially when compared to what they have done in years' past?

Kevin Goldstein: I thought they did great. If there is one word to classify their drafts in recent years its boring. I thought they focused more on tools and upside than ever before. They got more upside/ceiling guys, and the system desperately needed it.

Did you think the change from Sandy Alderson to Jeff Moorad at the top changed the way they drafted?

Kevin Goldstein: There were some indications beforehand that they were going in that direction. For example, the word on the street was the Grady Fuson was totally enamored with Tate, which is a different from what we usually hear. To me, that was an indicator that there was going to be a change, so yeah, I do think Moorad had a role in it. However, if you go back to the Bush draft, that wasn't the guy they wanted to take. The people that were writing the checks at that time didn't want to spend the money on who they wanted. This time it seems they got the nod from the top to go after some guys who are going to cost some money. You know it's not only the high picks, but they took some players in later rounds that will also cost some money and didn't flinch. If you are a Padres fan, you have to hope this is the new direction they will go in the future.

You, Baseball America's Jim Callis and ESPN.com's Keith Law are the three main people who write about the draft, but were somewhat split on Donovan Tate. What do you see that caused you to rank him so highly?

Kevin Goldstein: Both of those guys I really respect, but we all have our biases and our own way to look at things. I am the first to admit that I am "king upside", which is what I really care about. I tend to favor tools a little more than they do, and if you do, then you better like Tate or something is wrong! He is just a monster when you talk about that subject. The second thing – he runs out on the field and if you are a scout you think, "I want that guy." He's big, strong, and fast, can throw and hit the ball a mile. Is he perfect? No, but in terms of star potential there was no position player like him in the draft. Obviously, he has risk, but no one comes close to his ceiling.

Two other high school picks in the first four, outfielder Everett Williams and pitcher Keyvius Sampson. What can you tell us about them and do you think they will be hard to sign?

Kevin Goldstein: I don't think Williams will be hard to sign, but I was surprised to see him fall as low as he did. A lot of teams thought he would be in the second half of the first round. He's a great athlete and if he had been 6-foot-2 instead of 5-foot-10, he would have been in the top picks of the first round. He has ridiculous bat speed, gets good leverage and can really run. If you can run and hit for power that is going to get some attention. Yes, there is some rawness, but you have to really like the overall package. The Padres don't have any players on a pure tools level, raw athleticism, in their system now that even come close to the potential upside that Tate and Williams have.

Sampson will be a tough sign, but again the upside is exciting. Good size, good arm action, velocity above average to well above average. He's usually sitting in the low-90s, has an ability to throw a breaking ball and throws strikes more than most high-school pitchers. He's very projectable, most teams saw him as a supplemental first-round pick on a pure skills level, but some signability issues scarred them off.

Really the Padres got three players, Tate, Williams and Sampson who many teams thought could go in the first round.

Same question for the two more traditional colleges selections, Jerry Sullivan out of Oral Roberts University, the same as Jeremy Hefner, and Miami catcher/first baseman Jason Hagerty.

Kevin Goldstein: Sullivan more of a classic Padres' pick, stamina, innings eater guy with solid stuff. He's not a soft-tosser, he brings it at around 89-92 and knows how to set up hitters. He has a chance to go between High-A and Double-A next year and this is a nice place to get someone like him in the third round.

It surprised me to see Haggerty go in the fifth round; I didn't hear his name that high by really anyone. His best tool is power, but he's not a great catcher. Miami has a really good catcher in Yasmani Grandal, who will be one of the top picks next year, so it was hard for him to get much time back there.

I really liked the local pick in the sixth round of James Needy, the 6-foot-6 pitcher out of Santee. Thoughts?

Kevin Goldstein: He's an interesting pick, especially when you have the biases I do. You have to like a long 6-foot-6 guy and the potential that he may have. Not a ton of stuff right now, but the projection is there. If he had the stuff they think he could develop in the future, he would have been a first round pick. He's going to require some patience, but I would rather have someone that requires some dreaming.

What late-round picks did you like?

Kevin Goldstein: They definitely did pick some big guys right-hander Chris Fetter out of Michigan at 6-foot-8 and Nate Frieman, a 6-foot-8 first baseman from Duke. Fetter is a fifth-year senior that is more of a fastball/slider guy and some scouts like his potential.

Drew Madrigal, who they took in the 11th-round, was a nice pick, another fastball/slider guy. He repeats his delivery well, hits his spots and could turn out to be a nice pick. Is he a stud, no, but then again you usually don't find them in this round. [Jorge] Reyes I like, but I'm not sure for the money that he supposedly wants.

Last question, your bias for tall baseball players is well known. What are the chances of the Padres eighth round pick, 6-foot-8 first baseman Nate Frieman out of Duke having a chance?

Kevin Goldstein: It's not good. One scout told me that Nate Frieman is like Richie Sexson, but with fewer hitting skills. I don't know if he is going to be able to repeat his college success, but we will have to see what happens.

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