Image credit: Euribiel Angeles (Photo by Stacy Jo Grant)
This is part of Ben Badler’s 2018-19 International Reviews series chronicling all the moves made by teams on the international market over the prior year. To see all 30 teams, click here.
Total 2018 (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2018) signings: 31
When the Padres went over their bonus pool in the 2016-17 signing period, they put themselves in the penalty box for two years. So for the second year in 2018-19, the Padres couldn’t sign anyone for more than $300,000, but they remained one of the most aggressive teams in Latin America, handing out a flurry of $300,000 bonuses.
The Padres signed 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Charlis Aquino for $300,000. Aquino, who trained with Pori, is from right nearby San Diego’s complex in Palenque, so the Padres held a signing party at his field with people from his town when they signed him on July 2. Aquino wasn’t heavily scouted, but he has a promising combination of hitting ability and bouncy athleticism at a premium position. He’s a lanky but strong 6-foot-2, 165 pounds with a quick, compact swing from the right side with a flat path, producing hard line drives with an all-fields approach. He has power to the gaps now that should trend up once he fills out his projectable build. Aquino is a high-energy defender at shortstop with above-average speed, ranging well to both sides and charging in on slow rollers with an average arm that could still tick up.
Euribiel Angeles is another Dominican shortstop the Padres signed for $300,000 on July 2. Angeles, 16, isn’t that big (5-foot-11, 175 pounds), but he has excellent bat speed from the right side and has shown home run power in games. Angeles has hit well in games with a high contact rate and the potential for future above-average raw power. Angeles will develop at shortstop, but he’s more of an offensive-minded player who could end up at either second or third base. He trained with El Mago.
The Padres signed Eduard Hidalgo, a lefthanded outfielder from Venezuela, out of Jose Montero’s program on July 2. He’s an arrow-up player, growing to 6 feet, 175 pounds at 16 years old with an encouraging balance of game skills and tools in the middle of the diamond. He’s an advanced hitter for his age, performing well in games with gap power that’s trending up. He’s an above-average runner with a strong arm and good instincts in center field.
Edwin Rojas, who trained with Javier Mendoza, is a 17-year-old Venezuelan outfielder the Padres signed on July 2. Rojas doesn’t have one standout, calling-card tool, but he’s steady across the board and hit well in games as an amateur in Venezuela. He has a projectable frame (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) with a short stroke from the right side, solid contact skills and a good sense for the strike zone with gap power. He has average speed and arm strength, good enough for center field now with a chance to move around all three outfield spots.
The Padres paid $300,000 to sign 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Albert Fabian on July 2 out of the MB Academy. Fabian is 6 feet, 215 pounds, a lefty slugger with a strong, physically mature frame for his age. His calling card is his raw power, a potential plus tools. His game performance has been up and down, but at his best he has driven the ball out of the park with a short, flat swing. He’s a corner outfielder with some first base risk depending on how much mobility he retains.
Venezuelan third baseman Nerwilian Cedeno, who signed with the Padres on July 2, is a 5-foot-11, 175-pound switch-hitter with a more advanced swing from the left side. It’s an aggressive stroke with with solid bat-to-ball skills, a line drive approach and doubles power that should turn into more over-the-fence sock once he gets stronger. An average runner, Cedeno’s swing stood out more than his defense, but he has made progress there and has a chance to stay at the position. Cedeno trained with Aguiar and Barbosa.
Neifi Antunez, 16, is a versatile player from Venezuela who has spent time in the infield and the outfield, signing with the Padres on July 2 after training in the same program as Cedeno. He has a smaller frame (5-foot-10, 160 pounds) but large, strong hands that bode well for his future strength projection, with a line drive, spray approach right now from the right side. He’s a high-motor, gamer-type player with slightly above-average speed. Antunez trained with Aguiar and Barbosa.
Josttin Diaz is a 16-year-old Dominican infielder the Padres signed for $300,000 on July 2 from El Niche’s program. Diaz trained as a shortstop but is going to develop at second and third base. He has an offensive-oriented profile, with a flat stroke from the left side, good bat path and a line-drive approach with gap power from his 6-foot, 180-pound frame.
Dominican center fielder Reginald Dowston is an athletic, 16-year-old center fielder the Padres added on July 2 for $300,000. Dowston was one of the better raw athletes in the 2018 class, an explosive runner with plus-plus speed and an average arm. Dowston is speed-and-defense player, with good bat speed on a whippy righthanded swing and doubles pop, though he will have to improve his pitch recognition for it to better translate in games.
Dowston and Willmert Paula, a 17-year-old Dominican shortstop the Padres added for $300,000 on July 2, both have loud tool sets. He’s a quick-burst athlete with quick wrists that help him whip the barrel through with fast bat speed and flashes of average raw power from the left side, with a chance for more coming once he fills out his wiry 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame. It’s a power-over-hit profile with some swing-and-miss to his game that he will have to cut down on. Paula trained in the Mejia Top 10 program.
Alex Ramirez, who trained with David Concepcion, is a 17-year-old catcher the Padres signed on July 2. He’s a smaller-framed (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) catcher with fast-twitch actions. He’s still working at his receiving, but he has a plus arm with a quick release and pop times that can get underneath 1.9 seconds. With short arms and strong forearms, Ramirez generates excellent bat speed from the right side to drive the ball into the gaps for extra-base hits in games. He’s athletic for a catcher, with average speed underway, though that should slide back in time.
Another 17-year-old Venezuelan catcher, Wilfredo Tovar, signed with the Padres on July 2 after training with Dennis Suarez. At 6 feet, 175 pounds, Tovar is another athletic catcher, showing an average arm behind the plate. There’s some stiffness to Tovar’s righthanded swing, with a tendency to work out and around the ball, so while’s it’s not the most conventional stroke, he performed well at international showcases with a knack for putting the bat to the ball and over-the-fence pop in games. He runs well for a catcher with average speed.
The Padres also added a pair of extra-large framed sluggers out of the Dominican Republic for $300,000 bonuses out of Rudy Santin’s program. One is 17-year-old Axcel Peralta, who spent time as an outfielder but will develop as a first baseman. He’s a 6-foot-6, 210-pound lefty with big raw power. He has the size, strength, leverage and uppercut stroke geared toward elevating the ball for power, though he’s still learning to calm his approach in games to make more contact. For someone his size, Peralta moves fairly well around the bag at first base, where he gives his infielders extra margin for error with a big target and a good arm. The other is Emmanuel Rodriguez, a 17-year-old corner outfielder who is 6-foot-6, 210 pounds. Rodriguez has a similar offensive profile to Peralta but from the right side of the plate, standing out for his massive size and flashes of plus raw power, with a still crude approach he will need to develop to tap into it more in games.
Dominican center fielder Jose Velez signed with the Padres for $300,000 on July 2. Velez, 17, is a muscular, 5-foot-11, 170 pounds that’s physically mature for his age and produces loud tools. He’s a plus-plus runner with a plus arm, with good bat speed from the right side that, along with his strength, gives him over-the-fence juice in batting practice. His hitting and all-around baseball skills are still crude, so he’s still learning to get those tools to click in games. Velez trained with Wason Brazoban.
While Peralta and Rodriguez are a pair of giants the Padres signed out of the Dominican Republic, Carlos Vergara is a 6-foot-6 outfielder they signed out of Venezuela on July 2. Vergara has a massive frame with big physical upside. While a lot of 17-year-olds with his size are still learning to keep their bodies coordinated enough to make contact, Vergara gets his barrel into the hitting zone early and stays on plane for a long time, helping him put the ball in play. His raw power doesn’t match his size yet, but there’s physical upside for big raw power in the future. He’s a corner outfielder who moves well for a big man, with average speed underway and a 45-50 arm.
Venezuelan righthander Alejandro Lugo turned 16 last year on Aug. 20, so he‘s one of the youngest players in the 2018 class and will play nearly all of 2019 as a 16-year-old. He’s 6 feet, 165 pounds and pitches aggressively with an 87-90 mph fastball and shows feel to spin a curveball. The Padres signed another Venezuelan righthander, Jessel Soto, out of Ramon Hernandez’s program in July. He’s 6-foot-6, 190 pounds, a skinny 17-year-old with room to add another 40-50 pounds. He’s a deeper projection arm who has reached 90 mph with the physical upside to throw harder once he packs on much-needed size.
Among lower-level signings, Victor Duarte is a 17-year-old Venezuelan catcher the Padres added on July 2 with an intriguing skill set. At 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, Duarte doesn’t have one loud tool, but he’s a smart player who controls the field well behind the plate, firing off 2.0-second pop times and making frequent contact in games from the right side. Eddyson Moreno is a 17-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic who got $100,000 on July 2. He’s 5-foot-9, 175 pounds with a nice swing from the left side. Dominican righthander Luis Crisostomo (6-foot-2, 175 pounds) is an 18-year-old who signed for just $10,000 in July, but he’s athletic with a quick arm and a fastball that has reached 93 mph.