International Reviews: San Diego Padres

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Baseball America's annual International Reviews provide scouting reports on every team's top international amateur signings from the 2012 calendar year, as well as a look at any notable signings from the Cuban market.

See also: 2011 National League West International Review

San Diego Padres

Top signing:
3B Carlos Belen, Dominican Republic, $1 million.
Six-figure signings: OF Euri Minaya (Dominican Republic), RHP Starling Ynfante (Domincian Republic), 1B Jonas Lantigua (Dominican Republic), Ronaldo Jose Contreras (Dominican Republic).

Dominican third baseman Carlos Belen rose up the follow lists for teams as July 2 approached, then signed with the Padres for $1 million when the 2012-13 international signing period opened. Belen, a 16-year-old from Santo Domingo and trained with Ney Acevedo and Rodolfo Mendez, stood out for his offensive potential. At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Belen has a simple, compact righthanded swing. His efficient stroke, good bat speed and strength give him plus raw power and he's hit lasers to all fields in games. He has the potential to hit for average and power, but some scouts had concerns about his ability to hit breaking pitches.

Belen has a plus arm and some scouts like his hands at third base, but the biggest question mark on him is whether he will stay at third base. His footwork needs to be cleaned up and he's already a big guy who's only going to add size. He has a chance to stay at third base, but he could also end up either at first base or an outfield corner. Belen will be in Arizona for spring training, where he might stay for the Rookie-level Arizona League or go back to the Padres' academy in San Cristobal for the Dominican Summer League.

In November, the Padres paid $700,000 for Dominican right fielder Euri Minaya, who trained with Valentin Monero and was represented by Rob Plummer, the agent whose other recent Padres signings include Dominican third baseman Duanel Jones for $900,000 and Dominican outfielder Henry Charles for $300,000. Minaya, 17, is 6-foot-4, 200 pounds and had long been connected to the Padres, though the size of his bonus surprised some scouts because of the question marks on his bat. Minaya had surgery to remove the hamate bone from his left hand in April 2011, then returned to the field later that year in October. He showed a projectable body, good power from the right side of the plate and a strong arm, but he struggled making contact in games, especially against breaking balls. The Padres saw him make adjustments and improve at the plate after July 2, which helped sell them on him. He'll start his career in the DSL.

The same day they signed Minaya, the Padres also signed Dominican righthander Starling Ynfante and Dominican outfielder Ronaldo Contreras. Ynfante, 18, trained with Victor Baez and signed for $200,000. He's 6-foot-2, 200 pounds with a loose arm and an 89-94 mph fastball with solid sink, along with a curveball and a firm changeup. Contrereas, who signed for $140,000, has a projectable 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame with good bat speed, strong wrists and forearms and promising power potential from the right side, though he'll have to make some adjustments with his mechanics and hitting approach. His below-average speed fits best in a corner, with an average to slightly above-average arm that could allow him to play right field.

Last year in February, the Padres signed Dominican first baseman Jonas Lantigua for $150,000. Lantigua, who turned 18 in December, is the son of Evaristo Lantigua, the Padres' field coordinator in the Dominican Republic. At 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, Lantigua impressed the Padres with his lefthanded swing, approach and power potential before he signed, but he hit .198/.214/.269 with 45 strikeouts and only one walk in 173 plate appearances in the DSL. His long arms create a lot of moving parts in his swing that he'll have to simplify to catch up to better stuff.

The Padres also spent $50,000 in November on Venezuelan shortstop Elys Ugueto, who trained with Ciro Barrios. Ugueto is 6-foot-1, 160 pounds and doesn't have any loud tools, but he has good hands at shortstop and didn't turn 16 last year until August.