Padres Studying Abroad

SAN DIEGO—Several decades ago, the Padres had a knack for signing impact amateur players out of places beyond the mainland United States.

It’s hoped that under general manager A.J. Preller, a former Texas Rangers scout whose perceived scouting prowess abroad helped land him the GM job, the franchise can achieve similar successes.

Finding difference-makers such as Roberto Alomar, Sandy Alomar Jr., Carlos Baerga and Ozzie Guillen will be difficult—but it’s fair to expect better results than San Diego got out of its amateur free agency signings of the past few decades.

Where decades ago it was Puerto Rican players who launched their impressive careers in San Diego’s farm system, Cuban
amateurs of late have drawn attention from Padres scouts.

On the team’s radar now is a trio of Cuban prospects: outfielders Lazaro Armenteros and Jorge Ona and lefthander Adrian Morejon.

The Padres have heavily scouted Armenteros, 16, who performed in a showcase at the organization’s academy in the Dominican Republic. Several other teams have tracked Armenteros, a ripped, 6-foot-2 athlete who’s said to have five-tool potential.Ona, 19, projects as a corner outfielder. Morejon, 16, thrived in junior league competition before he left Cuba.

The Padres are set up to spend heavily when the 2016-17 international signing period begins July 2. Preller, who said he taught himself Spanish early in his scouting career, has maintained a scouting presence in Latin America while collaborating with international scouting director Chris Kemp, who followed over from the Rangers in late 2014 after working as an area scout.


• Former major league pitcher Hideo Nomo, hired as an advisor for baseball operations, will assist the Padres’ efforts in Asia and also work in player development. Takashi Saito, another Japanese pitcher, joined the organization as a baseball operations intern earlier this offseason.

• Preller traded a Cuban pitcher he inherited, Odrisamer Despaigne, to the Orioles for short-season righthander Jean Cosme, 19. Despaigne joined the Padres on a $1 million minor league deal. He looked like a potential steal after posting a 1.31 ERA through five major league starts in 2014. In the end, a 6.25 ERA away from Petco Park argued against keeping him on the 40-man roster.

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