2020-21 MLB International Reviews: San Diego Padres
The Padres have 19 international signings who appear in a Top 30 list in a Prospect Handbook, the most of any organization in baseball. They've traded many of those players to other organizations, including righthander Luis Patiño (Rays), shortstop Gabriel Arias and righthander Emmanuel Clase (both Indians) and even recent signings like shortstop Reggie Preciado and Ismael Mena, both 2019 signings dealt to the Cubs in the Yu Darvish trade even before they made their official pro debuts. This year the Padres reloaded the lower levels with another wave of international talent.
Top Of The Class
The Padres signed one of the best true shortstops in the class with Victor Acosta from the Dominican Republic. Acosta is 5-foot-11, 165 pounds and moves around gracefully at shortstop, where he's light on his feet with soft hands and a plus arm. He reads the ball well off the bat with a nose for the ball, showing quick actions but with the ability to slow the game down and play under control, showing all the attributes to develop into a plus defender. A slightly above-average runner, Acosta is a switch-hitter with quick hands at the plate. He has a slasher type stroke that early on was more advanced from the left side, though his righthanded swing has caught up to the point where some scouts think that he has more impact now. Acosta isn't that big but he does have some sneaky power for his size to drive the ball out occasionally during BP thanks to his bat speed. He trained with Hector Evertz.
Venezuelan outfielder Samuel Zavala was one of the better pure hitters in the international class. He's still 16 until July 15, making him one of the younger players in the class, but his baseball IQ is advanced for his age, especially at the plate. He's 6-foot-1, 180 pounds and has a loose, rhythmic stroke from the left side with good sequence. Zavala has a knack for barreling the ball against live pitching, driving the ball well the opposite way already. As he's gotten stronger, he's added more power with the loft in his swing to tap into it in games. If everything clicks for Zavala, he could end up with above-average hit and power tools, which would fit well in either corner spot. The Padres have challenged Zavala to work at his speed, though, and he's an average runner now, so he should get reps in center field as well as the corners. He moves around well in the outfield and has good instincts with a 55 arm that could be plus as he gets stronger, so while he probably goes to a corner long term, the attributes are in place for him to develop into an above-average defender there. Zavala trained with Henderson Martinez.
The Padres signed one of the top pitchers in the international class, righthander Victor Lizarraga, who trained at the Mazatlan academy and is represented by Jorge Campillo. He's 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, with a ton of room on his long, lean frame to add weight and throw harder. Last year he pitched at 88-93 mph, with a chance to throw in the mid 90s or better in the near future. He has a starter's repertoire with feel for two secondary offerings, led by a mid-to-upper-70s curveball with good shape and depth that's a potential out pitch, along with a solid changeup for his age. Lizarraga's feel for pitching is also advanced for his peer group.
The Padres signed two big lefthanded-hitting outfielders in their 2020-21 international class with Zavala and Daniel Montesino. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Montesino has more physicality and raw power than Zavala. While training with Carlos Guillen, Montesino stood out early in the scouting process for his hitting ability. He has an advanced offensive approach for his age, showing a sound grasp of the strike zone and the ability to hit to all fields with a direct swing. As he's gotten stronger, he has started to flash plus raw power as well. Montesino is more limited on the defensive side, with below-average speed that restricts him to a corner and some chance that he ends up at first base.
Names To Know
Bradgley Rodriguez, RHP, Venezuela: Rodriguez has a wiry 6-foot-1, 165-pound build with promising athleticism and fast arm speed. His velocity is already trending up, going from the mid-to-upper 80s to now touching 91 mph, with the projection indicators in place for him to potentially throw significantly harder along with a tight-spinning curveball that could develop into an out pitch. Rodriguez trained with Angelo Rosso.
Eddy Beltre, OF, Dominican Republic: Beltre was one of the most improved players over the course of the scouting process, tightening up a loopy swing and seeing his tools spike upward. He's a quick-twitch athlete with plus speed and a 60 arm in center field, where he covers a lot of ground and projects to stick. He tightened up what was a long, loopy swing into a shorter stroke with a flat, down-and-through path and gap power from his 5-foot-11, 165-pound frame. Beltre trained with J.D. Ozuna.
Yariel Moreno, RHP, Panama: Moreno was one of the top pitchers in Panama this year, with a long-limbed 6-foot-5, 190-pound frame that screams projection. Some of that projection is starting to come through, with a fastball that has jumped from 83-86 mph early to touching 91 mph now, along with good spin and shape on his curveball. Moreno also has fairly good body control for a 16-year-old pitcher his size, which should help him throw strikes and points to starter characteristics.
Evan Sweeting, RHP, Bahamas: Sweeting, 19, pitched at the Future Stars Series at Fenway Park last year in September, where he showed an advanced changeup for his age. He's 6-foot-1, 185 pounds with a fastball that's been up to 93 mph, with a changeup that helps him induce off-balance swings and is ahead of his breaking ball.
Jonney Rosario, RHP, Venezuela: Rosario pitched for Venezuela in the Little League World Series and stands out for his pitchability. He's a 5-foot-11 righthander who doesn't overpower but throws a lot of strikes with an 86-89 mph fastball, mixes in a changeup that has plus potential and feel landing his breaking ball in the zone. Rosario is represented by Cesar Suarez.
Teams haven't signed many players from Australia in recent years, and the coronavirus pandemic only made it more challenging for scouts outside the country to evaluate players from there. But the Padres managed to sign Australian righthander Riley Yeatman, who represented his country as far back as the U-12 World Cup and again at the U-15 World Cup in Panama in 2018. He also spent the 2020 season training with the Adelaide Giants, though he was too young to pitch for them in an Australian Baseball League game. He's 6-foot-4, 180 pounds at 17, with a lot of space to fill out and projects for more velocity on a fastball that has touched the low 90s. He throws with good downhill angle from a high slot with feel to spin a sharp-breaking curveball with good depth that should miss bats. He has a sound delivery for his age and size, giving him starter traits.