Padres turn to pitching on Day 2
Club selects 14 hurlers after loading up on bats Day 1
After 45 rounds over two days, San Diego's vice president of scouting and development Grady Fuson, is tired. But he's also excited."We're very excited with the top 10 rounds that we did. I have no complaints," said Fuson after the 2006 draft was finished. "We wanted to get some offensive players we felt were there in that draft." The Padres started off with third baseman Matt Antonelli out of Wake Forest with the 17th pick, a third baseman who led his team in hits (73) in 2006 as well as doubles (18). Along with power, Antonelli has also shown good plate discipline, walking a school-record 128 times over his three-year career with the Demon Deacons. The Peabody, Mass., native is also durable, starting all 163 games the Demon Deacons played in over his career. With their next pick, a compensatory pick at 35th overall, the Padres took Kyler Burke, an outfielder from Ooltewah High School in Tennessee. For a high school player, Fuson is impressed with his poise at the plate. "He's one of the kids we'd targeted as a potential special hitter," said Fuson. "He comes with poise, confidence, and comes with a little polish to his game athletically." Burke is a potential signee with Vanderbilt, a school the Padres were familiar with over this year's draft. In the 15th round, San Diego selected Matthew Bucshmann, a senior right-handed pitcher also from Vanderbilt. Into the third round, the Padres were happy to find Cedric Hunter still available, an athlete Fuson said is similar to Milton Bradley of the A's. Hunter comes from Martin Luther King High School in the Atlanta area and was selected 93rd overall. "He was a pleasant, middle of the diamond athlete to get in the third round," Fuson said. While Fuson and the Padres put a lot of focus on drafting players who can swing the bat, they didn't wait too long to stock up on pitchers as well. With their second pick in the second round, the Padres landed Wade LeBlanc out of the University of Alabama. The 6-foot-3 left hander went 11-0 this season in 17 starts with a 2.62 ERA. His strikeouts-to-walks ratio was nearly 3-to-1, striking out 124 batters while walking just 42.
On Wednesday, where rounds 19-50 took place, the Padres took 14 pitchers, three of them left-handers. Overall, the Padres took 22 pitchers, 17 of them right-handed.As always, you never know what diamonds in the rough will come out of Day 2 of the draft, and fans may want to remember the name Justin Pickett, whom the Padres took in the 22nd round. Fuson said the first baseman has been out half the season with a dislocated elbow, but still hit 19 home runs before getting injured. "This guy has incredible numbers," Fuson said of the Walters State, Tenn., Junior College player. "We're looking forward to getting him." The Padres also took some players that must have a high baseball IQ, as evidenced by their academic abilities.
Second baseman Nicholas Kliebert, who came out of Pepperdine in the 25th round, was the valedictorian of his high school class in 2002. In the 29th round, the Padres took Andrew Davidiuk from Furman, a third baseman who just graduated with a degree in neuroscience.Last but certainly not least, the Padres drafted Bryce Lefebvre in the 45th round, a third baseman who knows what it takes to be a Major League Baseball player. The right-handed Lefebvre has genetics on his side, the son of former Major-Leaguer Jim Lefebvre. Jim was the National League Rookie of the Year for the Dodgers in 1965, and an All-Star in 1966. With the final pick of Lefebvre, the Padres 2006 draft came to a close. They made 47 picks through the two days, taking 30 from the college ranks and 17 high school players. With the draft comes plenty of possibilities and hopes for the future of any organization, and the Padres are no different. Picking the players is done, but the job is far from over. Now, the organizations must sign their players, and after that comes the hardest part of all: waiting to see what happens.
Amanda Branam is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.