As the international signing period approaches on July 2, the biggest name among pitchers in Latin America after Michel Inoa is Adis Portillo.
Portillo, a 16-year-old righthander from Maricaibo, Venezuela, is a hard-thrower with a fastball that has ranged from 88-92 mph, touching 93. International scouts love Portillo's size—a wiry 6-foot-3 frame—and arm strength, though his present control leaves something to be desired.
"I saw him and we liked him," said one international scouting director. "He's got a good arm and he's a big kid with a great body and a good feel for a breaking ball."
The Royals apparently have strong interest, but the Padres and Phillies appear to be the top contenders for Portillo, who has been linked to both teams in potential deals of at least $1.5 million. One international scout said Portillo has been asking for $2 million, although it's questionable whether any team will meet that price.
"He's sitting 90-93 with a nice changeup, but the breaking ball to me is very ordinary," said one international scouting director. "In the bullpen the breaking ball is a 40 (on the 20-80 scouting scale), but in competition it's a 35. He's got a good arm, but he has trouble in competition—he gets hammered and freaks out a little bit."
There is some effort to his delivery, which may be an impediment for his control.
"He doesn't have a good secondary pitch and he doesn't project to have a good secondary pitch to me," said another international scout. "He might have a slider or maybe a curveball, but for the money they're asking? No way.
"I'm not saying this guy's not going to be a major leaguer, but every time I see him throwing bullpens, he's all over the place; he doesn't have good control. The changeup is workable because it's young and I can see why some scouts love his projectability and his body, but you don't get guys out with a good body. I love to see a good body, but in the end, it's about pitching."