Padres win high school ace Lesko in 1st round of MLB Draft – NBC 7 San Diego

The Padres are squarely out of rebuilding mode and consider themselves in championship mode. This means that their focus has shifted from storing talent to winning now.

Two days before the MLB draft, I asked the Padres director of amateur recruiting, Chris Kemp, if that had any bearing on whether they took a high school player with a big upside or a college player who is closer to contributing at big league level.

“Those are things that are talked about in the room, but I think whether it’s high school or college, we’re going to take the best player on the board,” Kemp said.

Selected 15th overall, the top player on their roster was Dylan Lesko, a right-handed pitcher from Buford High School in Georgia. It’s hard to dispute that assessment because if he hadn’t injured himself, he might have been the first player taken overall.

Lesko, who in 2021 was the first high school student to win the Gatorade National Player of the Year award, underwent Tommy John surgery just a few months ago. Prior to the injury, he was showing off a ’90s fastball with a big league-ready change and a developing curveball, which he regularly throws for strikes. Part of Baseball America’s analysis of Lesko deals with his makeup, and it’s awfully encouraging:

“Huge prep talent that doesn’t come around often. Has the qualities to be a special pro athlete. With continued growth and development, has the potential to be a top-tier type arm.”

He’s 6’3″ and nearly 200 pounds, so most talent evaluators expect him to fully recover from elbow reconstruction.

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