International Signing Wrapup: NL West

Padres are a big player in the international scene




Ben Badler is rounding-up all of the significant signings during the international signing period. You can also read his reports on the NL East and NL Central. Six-figure signings and Top Bonus refer to players signed during the July 2 international signing period. The signings are sorted from highest to lowest signing bonuses.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Six-figure signings: None

Summary: The Diamondbacks largely stayed out of the international sweepstakes this year, though they have found recent success mining Venezuela for outfielders Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez and catcher Rossmel Perez. Arizona gave Dominican right fielder Jose Jose $160,000 to sign in January, but the early returns have not been promising. Jose, now 18, hit .179/.259/.316 in 67 Dominican Summer League games and led the league with 121 strikeouts in 263 plate appearances.


Colorado Rockies

Six-figure signings: RHP Jose Lauriano, Dominican Republic, 16

Top Bonus: Lauriano, $190,000

Summary: The Rockies rode to the NL pennant in 2007 buoyed by three young Latin pitchers in Ubaldo Jimenez, Manny Corpas and Franklin Morales, and their breakout prospect in 2008 was another Latin signing, righthander Joulys Chacin. They've gone after pitching again with Lauriano, a wiry and projectable 6-foot-3 righthander with good arm action and feel for his offspeed pitches. Hailing from Santo Domingo, Lauriano has touched 91-92 mph with his fastball, complementing the pitch with a curveball and a changeup. In May the Rockies signed Dominican third baseman Miguel De Leon, who hit .223/.291/.261 in 45 games in the Dominican Summer League this year after signing for $250,000. De Leon, who is 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, is an offensive-oriented player with a good swing and above-average raw power. He gets his bat through the hitting zone quickly from the right side and has strong power up the middle and to the opposite field, unusually advanced skills for a 17-year-old. His defensive skills lag behind his bat and remain a work in progress. The Rockies also signed Jefri Hernandez in March from San Pedro in the Dominican Republic. Hernandez, 17, had a 4.37 ERA with 10 walks and 22 strikeouts in 35 DSL innings this year. The 6-foot-1 righthander is still raw, but his fastball has been up to 92 mph.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Six-figure signings: None

Summary: Last year the Dodgers' largest expenditure during the international signing period was the $100,000 they spent on Dominican righthander Beyker Fructuoso. The Dodgers put the 18-year-old in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, where Fructuoso had a 2.37 ERA in 38 innings with 17 walks and 37 strikeouts. The Dodgers neither exceeded nor matched this year the bonus they gave to Fructuoso in 2007, though they did sign 6-foot-2 righthander Robert Boothe out of Japan for the same bonus back in December. Boothe, 22, had a 6.89 ERA in 64 innings in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, though his walks were reasonable (24) and his 61 strikeouts were nearly a strikeout per inning.

San Diego Padres

Six-figure signings: RHP Adys Portillo, Venezuela, 16; OF Luis Domoromo, Venezuela, 16; SS Alvaro Aristy, Dominican Republic, 16; INF/OF Corey Adamson, Australia, 16; 3B Yefri Pena, Dominican Republic, 16

Top Bonus: Portillo, $2 million

Summary: The Padres were one of the top stories of this year's international signing period, landing three players to seven-figure deals. Portillo's bonus is a record for a Venezuelan pitcher and broke Miguel Cabrera's Venezuelan record bonus of $1.8 million in 1999 before the Reds gave Yorman Rodriguez $2.5 million on Aug. 15. Portillo's wiry 6-foot-3 frame is projectable, though his present fastball velocity is already at 90-93 mph. Portillo's offspeed stuff and command get more mixed reviews. Other teams' scouts felt that Portillo's breaking ball and command were both below-average, while the Padres said they think Portillo will have three average to above-average pitches with above-average command.

Domoromo is a power-hitting outfielder whose $1.25 million signing bonus was the second-highest this year among Venezuelan hitters. His defense will limit him to a corner outfield position, but international scouts felt that his power production should carry him. While the consensus was that Portillo and Domoromo were two of the best available players in Latin America this year, some scouts were surprised that Aristy received a seven-figure bonus. Aristy's wiry 6-foot-1 frame is projectable, though he doesn't wow anyone at the plate. Aristy could be an above-average defender, as he has very good hands and first-step quickness.

Adamson scored a $500,000 bonus, the largest amount given to an Australian this year. Where he ends up defensively is unclear, but he's a very good athlete who should play an up-the-middle position. Pena is a 6-foot-2, 190-pound righthanded hitter with athleticism, good strength and bat speed. He's a solid-average runner who will need to improve his footwork at third, though his athleticism should help him there. The Padres also signed a pair of Dominican arms back in December for low six-figure bonuses: lefthander Pedro Martinez and righthander Juan Herrera.

San Francisco Giants

Six-figure signings: OF Rafael Rodriguez, Dominican Republic, 16; RHP Ariel Hernandez, Dominican Republic, 16

Top Bonus: Rodriguez, $2.55 million

Summary: The Giants set a record on July 13, giving Rodriguez the largest bonus ever for an amateur Latin American hitter, excluding Cuban defectors. Rodriguez, who is 6-foot-5, 198 pounds, has plus raw power from the right side that should grade out higher in the future as he fills out his frame. He runs well for a player his size, though he'll be a corner outfielder as a pro and is still learning to get a feel for the position. He has good bat speed, but scouts say his feel for hitting is still a work in progress and more raw than Dominican first baseman Angel Villalona, who signed with the Giants for $2.1 million in 2006 as a 16-year-old, at the same age.

The Giants also agreed to terms for $625,000 with Dominican righthander Luis Mateo and announced the signing in a press release on July 2. But the Giants had the contract voided in August once they found bone chips in his elbow, according to Mateo's agent, Greg Maroni of California Sports Management. The Giants have also confirmed that the contract was voided. Mateo was evaluated in September by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who saw no need for surgery in Mateo's elbow or shoulder and that aggressive rehab would be the preferred course of action, according to Maroni. Mateo, a projectable righthander with good arm speed, is now a free agent and was working out for multiple teams in late September. The Giants also signed Dominican outfielder Jose De La Cruz in April for $100,000.