The Padres “Competitive Balance Round B” pick (#69th overall) is catcher Blake Hunt, from Mater Dei High School in California. General Manager A.J. Preller didn’t take a catcher in last year’s MLB Draft until the 16th round (474th pick overall), and they have now taken two with their first three picks.
This is certainly a unique approach, despite the old adage that “you pick the best player, not the biggest need”. Hunt is committed to play for Pepperdine after high school, and based on some projections (Baseball America ranked him 14th on it’s top 40 catchers, and slotted at no. 123 of it’s Top 500), it seems like he could be an underslot pick to free up some money in the later rounds.
In a feature at Baseball America, Hudson Belinsky mentions that he’s light on his feet, has shown some impressive pitch receiving skills, and that his “catch-and-throw skills stick out, but he’s also shown power potential.”
Listed at 6’3″ and 180 pounds, the right-handed hitter slugged .666 and hit six homers in 116 plate appearances his senior season, according to MaxPreps. He also walked more than he struck out (10 strikeouts to 17 walks).
In an in-booth interview with Don Orsillo and Mark Grant during the sixth inning of tonight’s game, Preller mentioned that good catching is hard to find, and since Austin Hedges is probably not immortal, the Friars find themselves with a new pair of prospects looking to work behind the dish.