WATCH: Padres MLB Draft Preview

San Diego's scouting department outlines its plan for the 2016 draft

The MLB Draft starts on Thursday evening. Although he has been with San Diego since August of 2014 general manager A.J. Preller has yet to exercise a first round pick with the Padres.

He arrived after the draft two years ago and last year the Friars didn’t make a choice until the 2nd Round when they took high school pitcher Austin Smith with the 51st overall selection. This year things are very, very different.

San Diego has three picks in the first round alone (8th, 24th, 25th) and six selections in the top 85. This is a golden opportunity for the Friars to build the kind of organizational depth they’ve been talking about for years.

“If you look back historically, usually the best drafts are the drafts where teams have had multiple picks,” said Preller. “It’s part of what we talked about last off-season when we lost some players who might have draft pick compensation attached to them. We have to make that work.”

This is the first time we get to see Preller’s real draft strategy at work. He plans to draft talent, not for need.

“Philosophically we’re going to go with the best player available when we make a selection,” said Preller. “Baseball is such a different deal than football and the NFL. Even the good college players, it might take them some time to develop in the minor leagues so we’re not going to draft for need or anything like that.”

Preller says the Padres organization has several intriguing pitching prospects in Single-A, specifically at Fort Wayne, and a crop of run-producing position players at Triple-A El Paso. But the middle level, Double-A San Antonio, is a little light on talent the team believes can someday make an impact in the Major Leagues. That can change if the right decisions are made this week.

“With the six picks in the top 85 you want to maximize this. You want to add to that current core that we’re building at the minor league level and this year with the six picks and what we’re trying to do in the minor leagues I think this year it probably does increase the level of importance.”

As for the type of players they’ll be targeting, expect to see a lot of young arms and outfielders.

“The strength of the draft is probably high school pitching,” said Mark Conner, the Padres Director of Scouting. “It’s not extremely top-heavy but there’s a lot of quality depth throughout it. There are [also] a lot of outfielders across the country in the college and high school ranks. Those are the strongest areas.”

When it’s all said and done 1,216 players will be selected in this year’s MLB Draft. The Friars will be making the 1,194th overall selection so they need to have a whole bunch of scouting reports to be prepared.

“We have about 820-840 players turned in from our scouts,” said Conner. “Everyone has a scouting report, multiple evaluations, background work done from our scouts. We have a Big Board that has 111 players on it right now and other boards that have depth throughout the country with those 820 other guys.”

Out of that whole group the Padres will make 43 picks, then hope just one or two of them can turn in to difference-makers a few years down the road.

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