International Reviews: San Diego Padres
Total 2017 signings: 38.
Top 2017-18 international signing: LHP Manuel Partida, Mexico, $350,000.
Several teams that were in the penalty and couldn’t sign anyone for more than $300,000 have opted to trade away portions of their bonus pool space. The Padres, who were in the group of teams with the largest 2017-18 pools at $5.75 million, chose instead to spend it all, giving $300,000 bonuses to a deep collection of players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
However, their biggest signing was the $350,000 they paid to sign lefthander Manuel Partida from Monterrey in the Mexican League. By Major League Baseball rules for Mexican League signings, only the amount of money that goes to the player (typically 25 percent) counts toward a team’s bonus pool and only that amount counts toward the $300,000 maximum a team under the penalty can give a player. That’s how the Padres were able to sign a player for more than $300,000 despite being in the penalty box. Partida’s fastball grew from 84-86 mph during the scouting process up to 87-90 mph, with a bigger build now up to 6-foot-2, 190 pounds. He throws a breaking ball with three-quarters action and shows feel for a changeup, giving him the attributes to be a starter. His pitchability sticks out as advanced for a 17-year-old, which is why he has a chance to pitch this year in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
The Padres signed Venezuelan righthander Frank Lopez for $300,000 on July 2 from Henderson Martinez’s program. Lopez, 17, has a strong, projectable frame (6-foot-2, 175 pounds) and a starter profile between his three-pitch mix and control. His pitchability is advanced for his age, operating off a fastball that parks at 89-93 mph and touches 94. He has the makings of an average slider along with a changeup that’s ahead of most of his peers, with unconventional late cutting action. Lopez is in Arizona now for extended spring training and slated for his pro debut in the AZL.
Venezuelan center fielder Angel Solarte, who also trained with Martinez, signed with the Padres for $300,000 on July 2. Solarte (6 feet, 170 pounds) has the quick-twitch athleticism and tools to stick in center field, with 60 grades on his speed and arm strength. His hitting in games went up and down, but his performance was better as July 2 approached. Solarte has strong wrists that he uses well to snap the bat through the hitting zone with a flat path from the right side, an approach geared for low line drives he can spray across the field. His power is mostly to the gaps now, but there could be more once he gets stronger and uses his legs more effectively in his swing.
Cristian Heredia is a 17-year-old Dominican outfielder the Padres signed for $300,000 on July 2. He has a strong, physical build (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) with plus bat speed and makes loud contact when he connects from the right side. His raw power has ticked up from average at signing to plus now, and the adjustment from a flatter swing with a low line drive approach toward one with more loft has helped that power come out with more frequency. He projects as a corner outfielder with average speed underway and an average arm. Heredia trained with Luis Scheker.
Venezuelan shortstop Yerry Landinez got a $300,000 bonus from the Padres on July 2 after training with Carlos Torres. Landinez, 17, had more of an under-the-radar profile as an amateur but has a promising size and tools from a switch-hitting shortstop. Landinez signed at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds and has grown into a more physical 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. He has a short lefthanded swing geared for line drives with gap power, with a righthanded stroke that has a little more juice behind it and more power coming as he gets stronger. Landinez has the hands and plus arm to play on the left side of the infield, with a chance to stay at shortstop if he can maintain his athleticism and agility while getting bigger. If not, he has the attributes to be a good defender at third base.
Righthander Mauricio Rodriguez, who trained with Derwin Hurtado, signed for $300,000 on July 2. He pitched for Venezuela in the 15U World Cup in 2016 in Japan, where he held Mexico to one run over six innings before getting hit around by Japan in his next start. At 17, Rodriguez (6 feet, 155 pounds) is an athletic strike-thrower with a compact arm stroke, working off an 87-92 mph fastball with slight tailing action. Rodriguez shows feel for a slider that could be an average or better pitch along with a straight circle changeup.
The Padres signed 17-year-old Venezuelan righthander Luarbert Arias for $300,000 on July 2. At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Arias throws frequent strikes with all three pitches, starting with an 87-90 mph fastball. Arias can land his curveball for strikes but his best pitch is his changeup, an advanced pitch for his age with late dive and fade that could become above-average weapon. He trained with Alex Gonzalez.
Another Venezuelan righthander, Jesus Cisneros, also got $300,000 from the Padres on July 2. He’s a lean, projectable 6-foot-2, 165 pounds, with a chance to grow an 87-91 mph fastball once he gains weight. Cisneros is a strike-thrower with an overhand curveball and is another Padres signing with a changeup that’s further along than most his age to keep hitters off balance. He trained with Luis Blassini.
The top bonus for any Australian player in 2017 went to Jarryd Dale, a 17-year-old infielder the Padres signed for $300,000 on July 2. Dale, whose father Phil has been a long time scout in Australia, is 6-foot-2, 180 pounds with a short righthanded stroke with good bat speed and pull-side power. His speed has ticked up to solid-average with improved footwork and more strength. Dale could move around the infield between shortstop, third and second base, with his pro debut coming this year in the AZL.
The Padres signed 17-year-old Venezuelan righthander Carlos Guarate for $300,000 on July 2. He’s a projectable 6-foot-2, 175 pounds with extremely fast arm speed. That gives him the potential to be a power arm once he fills out, with a fastball that currently operates at 88-91 mph. Guarate has flashed a tight breaking ball at times, though he’s still learning to harness his stuff in the strike zone.
Cuban righthander Edgar Martinez, a $300,000 signing on July 2, pitched in Cuba’s national 15U league in 2016, posting a 1.89 ERA in 62 innings with 71 strikeouts and 26 walks, ranking seventh in the league in both ERA and strikeouts. After the season, he went to Japan to pitch for Cuba in the U-15 World Cup, where he posted a 20-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 15 innings with an ERA of 0.60 and led the tournament in strikeouts. Martinez is a smaller-framed, 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, with an athletic delivery and a diverse repertoire. He mixes a fastball up to 92 mph with a wide slider, an overhand curveball, a changeup and a splitter, and he gives hitters even more looks by intentionally changing his arm slot. Martinez isn’t overpowering, but his delivery works well and he keeps hitters off balance with his control and feel for pitching.
Dominican outfielder Junior Perez signed with the Padres for $300,000 when he turned 16 on July 4. He has grown since signing to 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, standing out for his righthanded bat and power potential once he fills out his frame. Perez has shown sound instincts for the game, with solid-average speed and the ability to rotate around all three outfield spots, though he might ultimately fit best in a corner.
Luis Paez, who trained with Banana, signed with the Padres for $300,000 on July 2. Paez (5-foot-10, 160 pounds) is a 17-year-old Dominican shortstop with above-average speed who impressed the Padres with his ability to hit in games from the left side, though other clubs saw a more up-and-down hitting performance. He has a short swing that stays inside the ball well, spraying line drives around the field and playing small ball well with the ability to sneak in the bunt to get on base. Paez has a chance to stick at shortstop, though second or center field could be in his future.
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The Padres signed 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Yeison Santana from Rudy Santin’s program for $300,000 on July 2. Santana is 5-foot-11, 170 pounds and has gotten stronger since signing, which has helped his tools and righthanded bat all trend up. He has shown feel for hitting in games, staying with a line-drive approach and gap power, with enough juice to occasionally sneak a ball out to his pull side but with a hit-over-power profile. He can make the flashy play at shortstop, sometimes too flashy instead of playing under control. Getting stronger has increased his chances to stick at the position, with his speed increasing from a 40 to a 50 tool and his arm moving from fringy to average with a chance to keep moving up.
Emmanuel Guerra is a physically imposing (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) third baseman from Venezuela who the Padres signed for $300,000 on July 2. Guerra’s game is built around his size and strength. At 17, he’s a righthanded hitter who makes hard contact when he squares the ball up in batting practice, although he will have to make some swing and approach adjustments to perform better in games. He has a chance to stick at third base, with a fringe-average arm. Guerra trained with Francisco Ortiz.
Juan Garcia is a 17-year-old Dominican shortstop the Padres signed for $300,000. Garcia (6 feet, 170 pounds) a quick-twitch athlete with plus speed who should play somewhere in the middle of the diamond, with center field and second base possibilities down the road. Garcia is athletic and has a quick bat from the right side, but he’s still learning to translate his tools into game skills on both sides. He trained with Carlos Guzman.
Andelson Arias, 17, signed for $200,000 on July 2. As an amateur training with “Mon” in the Dominican Republic, Arias (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) had been a shortstop, but the Padres saw him behind the plate in a workout and decided to sign him as a catcher. His defense is understandably a long ways away as he learns the position, but the Padres liked his hitting ability from the left side with a line-drive, straightaway approach.
Lefthander Jesus Gonzalez, who signed for $200,000 on July 2, was teammates with fellow Padres signee Manuel Rodriguez on the Venezuelan team that played in the U-15 World Cup in Japan in 2016. Gonzalez, 16, got a start in that tournament against the United States, holding them to two runs (both unearned) on two hits over five innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. Gonzalez has added weight to a compact, stocky build at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds since signing, with his fastball rising from 84-87 mph to 87-90 mph now. Gonzalez is a pitchability lefty who stands out for his savvy and strike-throwing ability, mixing in an overhand curveball in the mid-70s that’s further along than his changeup.
The Padres signed 17-year-old Venezuelan catcher Matias Polanco for $175,000 out of Kevin Moscatel’s program on July 2. At 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, Polanco has a compact lefty swing with solid hitting ability for a catcher with occasional power to the alleys. He’s an intense, high-energy catcher with a 45 arm on the 20-80 scale.
Dominican shortstop Vladimir Echavarria, 17, signed with the Padres for $145,000 on July 2. He’s a quick-twitch athlete at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds with plus speed and an arm that grade out as at least a 60 on the 20-80 scale. Echavarria has a promising base of athleticism and raw tools to build on, but he will have to smooth out his righthanded swing. He has the tools to play shortstop, with center field and second base two other potential options down the line.
One sleeper from the 2017-18 class to watch is Brandon Valenzuela, a 17-year-old catcher the Padres signed from the Mexico City Red Devils for $100,000 in July. Since signing, he has grown three inches into a physical switch-hitter (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) with a sound swing from both side of the plate, showing gap power now and the size to project more power coming. He has a 45 arm that should tick up to average with strength gains.