The NBA and NFL drafts are vastly different from the baseball draft. In addition to having a relatively small number of rounds (two in the NBA and seven in the NFL compared to 50 in the MLB draft), teams in the NBA and NFL often select with the immediate needs of their current club in mind. Need an offensive tackle? You don't necessarily have to venture into the trade market or even free agency, as you might be able to solve your problem in the draft. Of course, such a setup comes with its own set of issues.
In baseball there is plenty of talk regarding need, although that usually refers to organizational need as opposed to immediate Major League need. For instance, a team's farm system may be thin at the catcher position, even if they have a solid catcher at the Major League level, so they will target catchers in the coming draft. Therefore, don't be alarmed if your favorite team takes a guy who plays the same position as the best player on the current ML team. Every team out there always needs more good players at every position, especially at the lower levels of the minor league system. Rarely do teams target players in the draft with their immediate Major League needs in mind, with the one exception being a top end reliever. In recent years more and more college relievers have been selected in the top rounds of the draft in hopes that they could get to the big leagues quickly to fill a role.
Fortunately for the Padres, Grady Fuson and Bill Gayton have had three very strong drafts in a row which has significantly bolstered our minor league system. Though we haven't picked in the top half of the first round in any of those years, we have been able to procure extra compensation picks due to the machinations of the free agent market. These extra picks have afforded us the opportunity to stock our system in an aggressive manner, and we've been able to fill many organizational needs over those years ranging from starting pitching to outfielders to catchers. Once again this year we have three extra picks (#42, #46, and #111 overall)... so we got that goin' for us, which is nice. This year, though, it's time for "best talent available", and we're excited about being in that position.
I have received a lot of questions regarding our strategy for this draft - will it be college oriented, what about players with tools, pitchers with velocity? Fortunately, I can answer these questions without giving anything away to our competitors. We're taking what we feel is the best talent available at the time - college, high school, pitcher, position player.
There's always a balance between impact potential and safety. However, the reality is that none of these picks are "safe". We're trying to predict the future performance of human beings five or even ten years into the future, at which time they'll be playing under circumstances that they can't even imagine right now (we hope). Safe? No chance. The business of baseball in general is a constant tug-of-war with uncertainty, and the other side of the rope never pulls harder than in the draft.
That's what makes it so much fun.