Padres Project Big Things For CJ Abrams
The Padres' shortstop of the future is also the shortstop of the present. Yet, the presence of Fernando Tatis Jr. in San Diego did not dissuade general manager A.J. Preller from going back to the shortstop well in the draft.
The Padres drafted 18-year-old Georgia prep CJ Abrams with the sixth overall pick.
"The nicest thing we saw from CJ was the ability to play shortstop,” Preller said. "We came into the year seeing him as a possible shortstop . . . and from a scouting staff we got through the draft and we feel he’s going to be able to play shortstop for us.
"Again, you take athletes, you take guys who have versatility, guys who can play other positions. You take a lot of guys who have the ability to play up the middle and they can slide over and move to other spots.”
Signed for $5.2 million, Abrams demonstrated that ability last fall for Team USA when he played center field in deference to Bobby Witt Jr. His 80-grade speed is an asset there, just as it is on bases, where the lefthanded hitter regularly beats out bunts and grounders.
Abrams swiped 33 bases this year at Blessed Trinity High and struck out just 12 times in four years of high school ball. The Padres project more extra-base hit power as he fills out a 6-foot-1, 178-pound frame.
Abrams got off to a fast start in the Rookie-level Arizona League, batting .526 with a home run, a triple, a double and a stolen base through four games.
"He has extremely good hand-eye coordination, probably some of the best—if not the best—bat-to-ball skills in the entire draft,” scouting director Mark Conner said. "His body has a lot of projection remaining to add strength.
"As he gets more physical, learns to attack the ball a little more in the zone, be a little more selective of the pitches he can drive, we definitely think there’s going to be more power down the road. Whether it’s doubles or triples or home runs, there’s going to be plenty of extra-base hits.”
— The Padres signed lefthanded-hitting San Antonio high school outfielder Hudson Head for $3 million, setting a record for a third-round pick. The slot value for his pick was $721,900.
Said one Padres scout of Head: "Super athletic kid, projectable body, can run, will grow into power. Good looking swing with good bat speed and looseness. Potential plus defender in center field. A legit five-tool guy in the end.”
— Righthander Andres Munoz hit 104 mph at Double-A Amarillo, where he recorded a 1.72 ERA, a .130 opponent average and 18.4 strikeouts per nine innings, before his promotion to Triple-A El Paso, where the reliever was the youngest pitcher in the Pacific Coast League.