We’re now four years out from when the Padres blew past their bonus pool in the 2016-17 international signing period, with this offseason marking the first one that players signed at 16 that July 2 would have to be added to a 40-man roster to protect them from a Rule 5 draft. So far from that class, the Padres have eight players on 40-man rosters.
That includes a pair of Top 100 prospects in righthander Luis Patiño and lefthander Adrian Morejon, plus righthander Michel Baez, infielder Tucupita Marcano and outfielder Jorge Oña on San Diego’s 40-man. They also traded shortstop Gabriel Arias to the Indians, outfielder Jeisson Rosario to the Red Sox and righthander Ronald Bolaños to the Royals, with all three on the 40-man rosters of those clubs now.
For comparison, the Braves also went well over their international bonus pool that year—the one that infamously led to their signing violations, removed their top signings from the organization and cost their general manager his job. None of those players are a 40-man rosters with their new clubs.
The Padres can’t spend that type of money any more, but they should have another deep, balanced group in their upcoming 2020-21 signing class that opens on Jan. 15.
Their biggest bonus is expected to go to Victor Acosta, a Dominican shortstop in the $1.5 million to $2 million range. He projects as a true shortstop with quick-twitch athleticism and actions at the position and a nose for the ball, with a line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate.
The Padres are also tied to Victor Lizarraga, who after 20-year-old Cuban righthander Norge Vera is expected to land the top bonus for a pitcher on the upcoming class at north of $1 million. Lizarraga, who is from Mexico, has a long, projectable 6-foot-4 frame and a fastball that has touched 93 mph with more velocity likely coming. He has starter traits between his feel for a curveball and changeup and pitchability for his age.
Two notable Venezuelan outfielders are also expected to join the Padres on Jan. 15, including Samuel Zavala. He’s one of the better hitters in the class, a lefty who uses his hands well in his swing with a knack for putting the bat to the ball in games, with power emerging as he’s gotten stronger. At 6-foot-1, 178 pounds, Zavala could start his career in center field, where he has good instincts, but his pure speed likely leads him to a corner long term.
The other Venezuelan outfielder linked to the Padres is Daniel Montesino. He has a more physical, heavier build at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and scouts highest on him liked his ability to hit in games, with good bat control and an all-fields approach from the left side, along with good bat control and an all-fields approach from the left side. He projects as a corner outfielder with some chance he end up at first base.
Three righthanders—Bradgley Rodriguez and Jonny Rosario from Venezuela and Yariel Moreno from Panama—are also expected to be part of San Diego’s signing class. They’re also getting Eddy Beltre, a speedy, athletic center fielder from the Dominican Republic.
Two other big names eligible to sign on Jan. 15, 2021 are also tied to the Padres, though with teams unable to trade for extra bonus pool space this year, both players look like they will wait another year until the 2021-22 signing period opens on Jan. 15, 2022 to officially sign so they will fall under those bonus pools. (Since they’re not expected to sign during the 2020-21 period, that’s why they’re not listed on our bonus board for the 2020 class.)
The most prominent of those two players is Dominican righthander Jarlin Susana. He had been a promising prospect early in the scouting process, at one point linked to the Cardinals, though that’s no longer the case. After MLB lifted its ban in-person international scouting in September that had been in place early in the pandemic, Susana emerged with a fastball up to 97 mph, sitting in the low-to-mid 90s in a pair October outings. At that point in the process, teams have already committed most if not all of their bonus pool money for the signing period that starts on Jan. 15, 2021, so Susana’s options for signing in January were limited. Instead, he’s expected to wait a year to sign with the Padres for a bonus in the $1.5 million area. Susana would be 17 when he signs, then debut in 2021 when he’s 18, the same as a typical high school draft pick in the United States.
The second player in the upcoming class expected to wait a year to sign with the Padres is Venezuelan outfielder Maikol Muñoz, though it’s still possible he might try to sign sooner rather than wait. He’s a former shortstop turned corner outfielder who was one of the earlier standouts in the class for his bat while training with Carlos Guillen.