After spending $8 million on a 15-acre facility that opened on April 29 in the city of Najayo in the Dominican Republic, the Padres appear poised to spend heavily in the international market when the international signing period begins on July 2.
Already strongly linked to Venezuelan outfielder Luis Domoromo and reportedly a contender for Venezuelan righthander Adis Portillo, the Padres also appear likely to spend heavily in the Dominican Republic.
Scouts say that the Padres will likely land Dominican shortstop Alvaro Aristy, a 16-year-old from Bani, for a possible $1 million price tag.
Aristy's best tools are in the field, where he is considered one of the better prospects from Latin America this year who has a good chance of remaining at shortstop. Aristy, who is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, is a good fielder who has clean hands and good footwork.
However, several scouts have questioned whether Aristy, a wiry righthanded-hitter, projects to hit well enough to have value in the big leagues.
"He doesn't really jump out at you as anything special with the bat," said one international scout. "He seemed all right, but I wouldn't have thought he would get $1 million."
The other shortstop prospect expected to receive seven figures is Giancarlo Arias, a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic. Scouts say Arias will likely sign with the Yankees for a bonus over $1 million, possibly in the $1.2 to $1.4 million territory.
A lefthanded hitter, Arias is 5-foot-11 with clean hands and a 60 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale. However, his body is stocky and he has a heavy lower half.
"He's got a good bat," said one international scout. "He's got below-average speed, so with that and his thick lower half, he's going to move off shortstop. He's a corner guy for me, but he might be able to stick at second."
Among the other shortstops in Latin America this year, 16-year-old Dominican Gustavo Pierre has puzzled some scouts with his inconsistency, but they say he has some potential with the bat.
Pierre, who is 6-foot-3, roughly 180 pounds, has a 40 arm and will likely end up in the outfield. The Blue Jays have been linked to Pierre for a high six-figure bonus.
"We liked him," said one international scouting director, "but he can't play shortstop. He'll wind up in the outfield."
Another 16-year-old Dominican shortstop, Jose Osoria, has drawn interest from several clubs but has been difficult for many scouts to get a good look at, leading scouts to believe that Osoria may already have a verbal agreement in place with a team.