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06/08/07 11:19 PM ET

Padres target college pitchers in Draft

Fifteen of 16 hurlers selected from university pool

The San Diego Padres grabbed a plethora of college pitchers in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. The Padres, already known for having one of the best pitching staffs in the Major Leagues, look to be building for years to come.

Dave Winfield and Randy Smith, who were in Florida to announce the Padres' picks, started the first round Thursday by choosing -- you guessed it -- a pitcher.

Nick Schmidt from the University of Arkansas was taken by the Padres as the 23rd overall pick in the first round of the two-day event. The left-hander helped Team USA win the World University Games last year in Cuba while playing at Arkansas, where he has been the No. 1 starter since his freshman year.

Sixteen pitchers were taken out of 42 overall picks. Two of the Padres first rounders were pitchers, Schmidt and Corey Luebke, a junior from Ohio State. Luebke's a left-handed pitcher who is the Buckeyes' No. 1 starter.

Every one of their pitchers has some college experience except one, Thomas Toledo. Toledo is a right-handed pitcher from Braulio Alonso High School in Tampa. He has committed to Florida but was taken in the third round and may be re-thinking his future plans. The 6-foot-3 Toledo throws a 90-93 mph fastball.

"Well, that's just the way it fell," said Grady Fuson, the vice president of scouting and player development. "There were some other high school pitchers we targeted, more of those earlier, but as things fell that's the way it went. Toledo was one of the high school pitchers we earmarked from day one.

"It's easier for me to be attracted to more college pitching than high school. Always has been, always will be. You just don't sign a lot of high school guys, historically, that are very talented. Also, guys are committed to major universities."

But nabbing left- and right-handed players with powerful arms was just one trend with the Padres. The Friars leaned more toward players with collegiate experience than high school standouts. Only nine high school players were picked.

The Padres selected players from all over the nation and no university was too small or too illustrious for them to consider.

Draft 2007 | Complete Coverage
Top MLB Draft Picks
Pick POS Name School
1. TB LHP David Price Vanderbilt U
2. KC SS Michael Moustakas Chatsworth HS (Calif.)
3. CHC 3B Josh Vitters Cypress HS (Calif.)
4. PIT LHP Daniel Moskos Clemson U
5. BAL C Matthew Wieters Georgia Tech
6. WSH LHP Ross Detwiler Missouri St U
7. MIL LF Matthew LaPorta U Florida
8. COL RHP Casey Weathers Vanderbilt U
9. ARI RHP Jarrod Parker Norwell HS
10. SF LHP Madison Bumgarner South Caldwell HS
Complete Draft list >

Center fielder Daniel Payne comes from Georgia Tech. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior may not be the fastest runner but he can hit and plays to his abilities.

Mitchell Canham of Oregon State was the fourth overall selection by the Padres. The 22-year-old catcher, who towers at 6-foot-2 and carries 215 pounds, can play at every position, but he's at his best with a bat in his hands. Canham, who writes hip-hop songs, is a left-handed hitter and was part of the 2006 NCAA national championship team.

Fuson said Canham was, "the No.2 catcher on our entire board."

The Padres continued to tap into top college programs by taking second baseman Eric Sogard from Arizona State and outfielders Bradley Chalk from Clemson University and Robert Perry from California State University, Long Beach.

If you've never heard of Bethune-Cookman College, located in Daytona Beach, Fla., you will now.

Angel Mercado, a six-foot right fielder from the historic black college was chosen in the 23rd round. Mercado was the second right fielder after Shane Buschini, an 11th round pick, who plays for the University of San Diego.

Fuson on Buschini: "I though he was a good pick, especially being a local kid, strong. He's kind of a stiff, rigid type player but he's got strength and throws OK. He's had a pretty good college career."

After looking at the Padres' selections, it must be noted that they paid attention to kids up and down California's coast.

Buschini and Perry have Southern California company in the form of right-handed pitcher Shawn Olsen, who's a senior at the University of Southern California, and fellow right-hander Dylan Axelrod of UC Irvine. First baseman Robert Blauer is a senior from UC Santa Barbara. Blauer, chosen in the 18th round, was the lone first baseman picked until the Padres nabbed Zachary Brown from The Citadel and Joseph Pagan from Archbishop-Curley Notre Dame High School. Both Brown and Pagan bat left-handed.

The Padres took seven middle infielders, three catchers and more then a dozen outfielders. Kellen Kulbacki of James Madison University was the first outfielder chosen. San Diego took him as its second overall pick in the first round. The 5-foot-11 Kulbacki blasted 24 home runs to bring his batting average to .464. Kulbacki is the highest position-player to be picked from the Dukes' athletics program. Kulbacki's grandfather, Bob Bettleyon, was a member of the Philadelphia Athletics organization.

Kulbacki is not the only one with a baseball family.

Anthony Renteria from Great Oak High School was the 39th pick by the Padres and is the son of Rick Renteria. Renteria is a former Major League player and is now the manager of the Padres Triple-A team, the Portland Beavers.

But of course, they cannot be outdone by the last pick for the Padres -- Ross Wilson. Wilson was drafted in the 35th round as a shortstop in the two-day event.

Wilson is known as the star quarterback in the MTV reality series "Two-A-Days."

Elizabeth M. Botello is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.