6/7/2014 9:04 P.M. ET
Johnny Baseball? Manziel drafted by Padres
By Corey Brock and Paul Casella / MLB.com
There was a point in Johnny Manziel's college career when he considered forging a path as Johnny Baseball instead of Johnny Football.
Obviously, the football option worked out better for the now-Cleveland Browns quarterback, but -- thanks to the Padres -- the door hasn't completely shut on Manziel's baseball career.
The Texas A&M product, who was selected by the Browns with the 22nd overall pick in the NFL Draft, was also selected Saturday by San Diego in the 28th round of the First-Year Player Draft, with the 837th overall pick.
It all became official when Eddie Ciafardini, the Padres' assistant to the scouting director, leaned in to the phone in front of him and said the following:
The Padres select Draft ID 7165 Manziel, Johnny, a shortstop from Texas A&M University.
Manziel took to Twitter to express his gratitude to the Padres.
"Big thank you to the Padres and [team president] Mike Dee for selecting me in the MLB draft. What a great day!
The Padres have no expectation that Manziel will sign, but felt it was worth a shot anyway.
"I would say in the near future, it's probably unlikely," Dee said of the team's chances of signing Manziel. "But if he ever put on a Padres' uniform, it would be great. Who knows what the future holds? You never know."
A Rangers fan growing up, Manziel was a middle infielder at Tivy High School (Kerrville, Texas) before forgoing his baseball career in favor of football. He played baseball through his junior year, but he skipped out on his senior season so he could graduate early and focus on preparing for his freshman football season at Texas A&M.
"You know, I heard he's a good player," said Padres manager Bud Black. "I heard he was a good high school baseball player. I think he's a middle infielder. You can always use middle infielders. In most cases, they're the most athletic players on the diamond. Usually they go to the outfield or stay in the middle."
Manziel's passion for baseball, however, did not diminish after high school. He briefly discussed the possibility of playing collegiate ball with Texas A&M's baseball coaches, but that never came to fruition once he won the starting quarterback job as a redshirt freshman. Manziel guided the Aggies football team to an 11-1 record, all while setting a number of collegiate records and becoming the first freshman to win the prestigious Heisman Trophy in 2012.
Manziel returned to the diamond last year to throw out the first pitch prior to a Rangers-Angels game in Arlington. He was scheduled to throw out another first pitch in his new hometown at the Red Sox-Indians game in Cleveland earlier this week, but that plan was scrapped after a lengthy rain delay.
Heisman to hardball?
Manziel is also no stranger to the Padres or the San Diego area.
He joined the Padres for batting practice prior to their May 17, 2013, game against the Nationals at Petco Park -- and even connected for a home run at the pitcher-friendly stadium. He later joined the Padres' broadcast team during the game to talk about his love for baseball and his success on the football field.
Most recently, he spent time training in the San Diego area with quarterback guru George Whitfield in January.
It was after a workout in January when Padres general manager Josh Byrnes was standing on the field at Petco Park, wishing Manziel the best. Before the two parted, Byrnes looked back and asked Manziel a simple question:
"Do you want us to draft you," Byrnes said. "He said, 'Yeah sure.' So we did.
"[Johnny's] football career is certainly the priority, but you never know. It doesn't hurt to sort of formalize the relationship and see what happens."
After working out at Petco Park with Whitfield, a mutual friend of Manziel and team president Mike Dee's put the two in touch. Dee and Manziel later had dinner together in San Diego.
Two years ago, the Padres selected University of Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens, who, to that point, hadn't played college baseball. He signed and is under team control but is pursuing football as a career.
Not that it will happen, but if Manziel has a change of heart and decides to give baseball a shot, he'll finally get a chance to set foot on the campus of the University of Oregon. Remember, before he ended up in College Station, he committed to play football for Chip Kelly's Ducks.
The Padres short-season team in the Northwest League plays on the Oregon campus, a long fly ball from Autzen Stadium.
In the event Manziel does sign with the Padres, the team would hold his rights for six years. Players who were drafted have until July 15 to sign.
It's unlikely that Manziel's baseball career will ever go too far beyond throwing a few ceremonial first pitches, but he's far from the first NFL player to be taken in the Draft.
In recent years, star quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have both had their names called in the Draft. Wilson was first drafted by the Orioles in 2007, then again by the Rockies in '10. He was then claimed by the Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft this past winter, and he spent time visiting with Rangers players this spring after helping lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl title in February.
Among the other NFL players selected in the Draft in recent years are: quarterbacks Tom Brady (1995, Expos), Michael Vick (2000, Rockies), Matt Cassel ('04, Athletics) and Jake Locker ('06 and '09, Angels); and wide receivers Golden Tate ('07, D-backs; '10, Giants) and Eric Decker ('08, Brewers; '09, Twins). Locker was the highest drafted of any of those players, being taken in the 10th round by the Halos in 2009, three years after they had selected him in the 40th round.
This isn't exactly a new trend either, as legendary quarterbacks Dan Marino and John Elway were both drafted by Major League Baseball teams. In fact, both Marino (fourth round) and Elway (18th round) were taken by the Royals in the 1979 Draft. Elway was drafted again two years later, this time in the second round by the Yankees.
Though Manziel figures to follow the lead of those quarterbacks and stick to the gridiron, the Padres have at least given him the option to consider making "Johnny Baseball" his next trademark.
"We want to be respectful of his football career and what the Browns are trying to do and also be realistic," Byrnes said. "But just in case, I guess we'll see how that lines up."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.