2021-22 International Reviews: San Diego Padres

Image credit: Rosman Verdugo

In their last two international classes, the Padres signed shortstop Victor Acosta and outfielder Samuel Zavala, two of the best prospects from the Dominican Summer League last year and two of the better prospects in their organization. In addition to the homegrown international players throughout their system, the Padres have also sent several of their Latin American signings to other clubs, be it big league graduates like Rays righthander Luis Patiño or current prospects like Guardians shortstop Gabriel Arias (a Top 100 prospect), Cubs infielders Reggie Preciado and Yeison Santana or Mariners reliever Andres Muñoz. 

Top Of The Class

Once the pandemic hit, Major League Baseball shut down international scouting until September 2020. When that happened, Dominican righthander Jarlin Susana emerged showing electric stuff for a 16-year-old, running his fastball up to 96 mph. Susana would have been eligible to sign on Jan. 15, 2021, but with teams having committed most of their bonus pool money for that signing period already, Susana opted to wait another year to sign with the Padres on Jan. 15, 2022 for $1.7 million. Once a long, lean pitcher, Susana has bulked up to 6-foot-6, 235 pounds and added more velocity, with a chance to reach triple-digits. He now sits around 93-96 mph, touching 98 mph. Susana throws two breaking balls, the best of which is a power slider around 86-88 mph with sharp bite and is a potential plus pitch. His slider and curveball shape can blend together at times, but he shows feel for his curveball and rounds out his repertoire with an 86-89 mph changeup that has sink and fade. Susana is still years away from the big leagues with plenty of risk, but has the raw stuff that stacks up well among the top 18-year-old high school seniors eligible for the 2022 draft. 

Cuban shortstop Yendry Rojas showed early on in the scouting process that he was one of the top pure hitters in the 2021-22 international signing class, eventually signing with the Padres for $1.3 million. After adding one of the most talented lefthanded hitters in 2021 when they signed outfielder Samuel Zavala, the Padres acquired one of the best lefthanded bats from Latin America for this year with Rojas. He performs well in games with the ability to track and recognize pitches well for his age from a quiet, balanced swing that’s quick and compact. His feel for the barrel leads to a high contact rate with extra-base damage and a chance for future above-average power. An average runner with a plus arm, Rojas showcased in the outfield and the infield, but he’s exclusively an infielder now. Some scouts think he has a chance for shortstop, though second base and third base could be future destinations.

Names To Know

Rosman Verdugo, SS, Mexico: One of the top prospects for this year from Mexico, Verdugo shows actions in the batter’s box and feel for hitting that are advanced for his age. He’s a calm, controlled hitter with a pure swing and a disciplined approach, with the patience to take his walks and ability to spread the ball to all fields. He shows occasional over-the-fence juice now to his pull side, with big hands and strong forearms that suggest future average or better power could eventually develop. Verdugo’s offensive game sticks out the most, with average speed underway and a solid-average arm at shortstop. He should develop as a shortstop with a chance to stick there, but he could fit at second or third base, too.

Maikol Muñoz, 3B, Venezuela: Muñoz was eligible to sign the previous year but signed in this year’s class instead. He has grown into a physical third baseman at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds with the raw power to match. Muñoz has a flat, righthanded bat path with plus raw power that has a chance to develop into a 70 tool in the future. If Muñoz can maintain his athleticism and mobility, he has the plus arm strength to handle third base, though there’s risk he might outgrow the position and flip over to first base. 

Braian Salazar, LHP, Venezuela: Salazar has a lot of projection arrows pointing up. He’s young for the class and an athletic mover on the mound with more space to fill out his projectable 6-foot-3 frame. Often in the mid 80s and touching a tick higher during the tryout process, Salazar by the time he signed had reached 92 mph, with a fast, whippy arm for more velocity to come once he gets stronger. He shows feel for a promising slider as well that could develop into an out pitch. 

Oliver Cedeño, SS, Venezuela: At around 5-foot-11, 165 pounds, Cedeño is a switch-hitting shortstop who stands out for his instincts and baseball IQ. He has good bat control with a compact swing, going with where the ball is pitched to spray it around the field, though he will need to get stronger to drive the ball for more damage. He has good actions at shortstop, where his savvy for the game is evident with a knack for being in the right place at the right time. 

Estuar Suero, OF, Dominican Republic: Suero is still raw, but the physical upside is exciting if everything clicks. At 6-foot-5, 180 pounds, he’s tall, athletic and has a ton of space to fill out. He has a little more power from the right side, with a chance to have plus raw power from both sides. With a tick above-average speed and long strides, Suero runs well enough for now to develop in center field, where he has a solid-average arm that could tick up, though once he gets bigger he probably heads to right field. 

Sleeper Watch

Juan Murillo is a 20-year-old Cuban shortstop who wasn’t getting a ton of attention in the Dominican Republic, but he’s a plus-plus runner who should develop somewhere in the middle of the field, be it at shortstop or center field, with flashes of solid raw power from the right side of the plate. Another Cuban player the Padres signed, Eizon Delgado, is 18 with plus speed, good defensive actions in center field and a fairly simple, fluid swing from the right side.

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