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Padres Invest Big In Cuban Players

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Adrian Morejon (Photo by Bill Mitchell) Adrian Morejon (Photo by Bill Mitchell)[/caption]

SAN DIEGO—Early in his tenure as a Padres owner, John Moores said Major League Baseball should think about expanding to Cuba.

That day has not come, but the Padres themselves are finally now making a strong play in the Cuban market with five Cuban signees in this year’s international class.

"We’re excited about all of them,” farm director Sam Geaney said from the Dominican Republic, where a few of the Cuban prospects are based at the team’s complex training in Najayo, San Cristobal.

Three of the Cubans—lefthander Adrian Morejon, outfielder Jorge Ona and righthander Ronald Bolanos—took part in the team’s instructional league last fall in Arizona.

They, along with two recent signees, pitchers Michel Baez and Ramon Perez, will join the club at spring training in Arizona in February.

The investments in Morejon and Ona were $11 million and $7 million, respectively. Previously, the most the franchise had devoted to an entire international class was about $5 million.

All said, the Padres pledged about $35 million to prospects in the international signing period.

"We’re super excited about our whole international class,” Geaney said.

So large is the franchise’s influx of prospects, fueled as well by trades and a large 2016 draft class, the Padres will field two teams in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2017.

The Padres previously missed out on several Cuban prospects who became major league stars in recent years, but it appears general manager A.J. Preller was ahead of the curve, in one respect, when he went large on Cuban prospects in recent months.

The new collective bargaining agreement will place a hard cap on each team’s international signing pool. For the Padres, the cap will be $5.75 million. In effect, the Padres have signed five classes in one year and still figure to add more signings.

Because they exceeded their slotted outlay, the Padres will be restricted from signing any international amateur for more than $300,000 the next two signing periods.


Outfielder Jabari Blash has recovered from a finger injury but hit just .115 with three walks through 13 games with Escogido of the Dominican Winter League.

The Padres signed former Cubs third baseman Christian Villanueva. Villanueva missed the 2016 season with a broken leg, but hit .259/.313/.437 at Triple-A Iowa in 2015.

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— Tom Krasovic is a writer at the San Diego Union-Tribune

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