Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Enjoy, Padres Fans, Enjoy

Your Padres made a statement today.

Before noon eastern time, the Padres had locked up five of the top international prospects from around the globe for a total of nearly $5,000,000. Those commas are in the proper places.

Let's allow that to sink in for a second...

Feels good, doesn't it?

Today we completed the signings of highly coveted players Adis Portillo (RHP), Alvaro Aristy (SS), Luis Domoromo (OF), Corey Adamson (INF/OF), and Elvin Tavarez (RHP). ESPN has comments on each of the Latin American players, but I'll go ahead and offer my own as well.

Adis Portillo is a 16-year old RHP who stand 6'2" (for now). Ranked as the top amateur pitcher in Venezuela, and the 2nd best overall pitching prospect internationally, Portillo already throws his fastball in the low 90's with good command. Adis also has an advanced feel for both a curveball and a changeup, especially for someone with his age and size. Portillo is a premium pitching prospect and would have been a top ten pick in the amateur draft in the US.

Alvaro Aristy is a 16-year old SS who draws comparisons to a young Tony Fernandez. A slick fielder with a strong arm and vacuum-like hands, Aristy projects as a true shortstop. His superior hand-eye coordination also serves him well at the plate where he has the ability to consistently put the barrel on the ball. With the inevitable increase in size and strength, we believe his skills will play offensively as well as defensively. ESPN ranked Aristy as the #2 overall position player prospect in the Dominican. He is easily the best defensive middle infielder among the amateur ranks that I saw this year.

Luis Domoromo is a 16-year old OF from Venezuela who has an advanced approach at the plate. Luis has a strong arm and is a good athlete, so we expect him to be a solid corner outfielder, but his bat is what has the chance to be special. He can hit the ball to all fields and projects to have legitimate power. Luis was ranked as the #2 position player prospect in Venezuela.

Corey Adamson is a 16-year old infielder/outfielder from Perth, Australia. Known as a 5-tool athlete (runs a 6.6 60), Corey has already produced with those tools. In the National Championship Tournament in January, Corey hit .520 with a .618 obp and a 1.040 slugging percentage. Due to his athleticism, Corey was also projected as a top 10 selection in the Australian Rules Football draft, however he has chosen baseball. This choice wasn't terribly surprising given the fact that Corey's father, Tony, is in Australia's Baseball Hall of Fame.

Elvin Tavarez is another 6'2" 16 year old RHP, though unlike Portillo he is from the Dominican Republic. Tavarez's fastball already reaches 90 mph, and he shows the makings of a very good curveball. ESPN ranked him as the #4 pitching prospect in the Dominican this year.

Deep breath. This isn't April 1st, it's July 2nd.

Kidding aside, today is a monumental day for the Padres. A number of years ago, John Moores and Sandy Alderson had a vision for the Padres internationally. Their collective aggressiveness in this area has led to many things: hosting the inaugural World Baseball Classic, playing the first ever exhibition games in China, and building the Taj Mahal of baseball academies in the Dominican Republic. However, they knew that the vision would not be complete without high-caliber talent.

Somewhat under the radar, the Padres have ramped up their efforts (and their budget) internationally over the past couple of years under the guidance of Randy Smith. As a consequence, our lower minor league levels now host a large group of high quality prospects from Latin America. We just added to that group in a monumental way.

35 comments:

gr8n8 said...

Great news! Glad to see the padres really making an effort with these signings. Where will these players begin playing first?

Alex said...

That's pretty damn impressive. ESPN/BA rankings are certainly not the end all be all for evaluating amateur talent, but nevertheless, if you can sign 4 of the top 10 Latin Amateurs and 3 of the top 6, that is just amazing. On top of all that, for a price of around 5 million dollars, which is pretty much 1 million dollars more than the cost of one season of Tadahito Iguchi.

If just one of these players can come close to meeting their upside at the mlb level, the 5 million is more than worth it. If 2 or 3 can, then you have really struck oil.

Congrats Padres fans, your farm system often gets criticized by major publications, but today should go along way in impressing people, even though the fruits of this labor likely won't be for at least 4+ years down the road.

Ryan Luz said...

This is extremely exciting. With Liriano and Galvez two young and exciting Latin players already playing in the system, it'll be exciting to track the progress of these teams. How soon do these kids start playing in the DSL? Do they go to the academy for a while just to receive instruction for a while or do they go directly do playing games for the DSL Padres. Good job Pads.

ThaCEO said...

Paul,

Michel Inoa signed for almost as much as all of today's signings combined(a reported 4.25 million). Do the Padres believe the pitchers they aquire compare to Inoa in talent, and was the team pursuing the 6-7 pitcher who baseball america has called "a once in a generation talent"

he seems to me to be the Justin Upton of international pitchers with all the hype surrounding his abilities

Alex said...

I think the thing with Inoa is that he is such a rare type of talent the rules don't apply.

In some respects, I think it's possible Inoa's presence HELPED the Padres, because so much of the focus was put on Inoa, that those teams couldn't give the Portillo's the same attention the Pad's did.

Inoa is a once a decade type prospect, so it's likely that in any other year Portillo would have been the no. 1 pitching prospect in this class, and thus attracted all the top attention.


I don't get why teams like the Yankees don't dominate the international signing days every year with their money, but I am very glad that they dont

Schlom said...

What is the status on the Padres three "high leverage" (for a lack of a better word) draftees: Kipnis, Figueroa, and Mooneyham? And do these international signings have any effect on the amount of money you are willing to spend on them?

Paul R. said...

Thanks for the post Paul!
Padres fans are really excited today!

Christopher said...

Awesome news Paul.

With how poorly the big league club is performing, hopefully this will give informed Padres fans the feeling that there is light at the end of the tunnel (even though it may take several years to get there).

ThaCEO said...

alex,

i would definetly agree with you on the Inoa thing, but I do think most teams knew for the past few weeks the A's would sign him, Sandy seemed convinced of it last Wednesday on XX radio. However that isnt to say that he took attention away from the other guys when much of the scouting was being done.

The Yankees and Mets have been big traditioanlly been big spenders in the international market. Signing the likes of Tabata, Martinez, Guerrera, Gomez, Montero, and company in recent years. This is most definetly an unusual year, with the A's, a team that usually shies away from the market, spending big and the Padres probobly being the biggest overall spenders.

I saw the Padres spending spree coming when they built 4 Seasons: Dominican Republic for their talent(If I were a prospect, I would sign on to stay there in a second!). The A's signing shows Beanne's flexibility, which I think Paul should know all too well after working along side him in Oakland.

Rick MacDonald said...

Paul-

That is exciting news - Congrats! Three related questions:

1) I agree with one of the comments -- why are teams like the A's and Padres dominating the intl signings this year, as opposed to the usual big-mkt suspects (e.g. Yanks, Mets, Dodgers)?

2) How long are players expected to stay at the DR complex before moving to the minors?

3) Can you talk a little bit about the different mental and physical make-up of Latin prospects, compared to U.S. prospects and even Japanese prospects? How valid are the generalizations you hear about players from the three different regions?

Thanks!

jcmitchell said...

Glad to see the Pads getting so many good prospects here. This is like the opposite of how they draft which makes their drafts ok in my book. They draft low upside but high probability and these International signings are all huge upside deals. Good job here!

b_diddy_7 said...

Congrats on all the signings. You guys got some great talent, even though I'm not a fan of Portillo much, especially for 2.2MM. And there's no way he would've been a top 10 pick in the MLB draft--let's get real here. However, all the other signings seem fine to me especially for the amount of money paid out. Alex, if you really followed the international market then you'd know the Yankees are one of the powerhouses. The Yanks regularly spend quite a bit in Latin America. This year they played it smart, however, in obtaining some solid talents for reasonable bonuses when a few teams decided to make a statement in Latin America.

The_Phantom said...

With the new facility the Padres have built in the D.R. serving as the hub for the Latin America Operations, I was wondering if there would be any chance to see new contract players from Australia playing in the DSL or Instructional league in the D.R.?

And how is China market on the future for the Padres?

Thanks!

erik said...

as a Cardinal fan I am green with envy

Alex said...

B diddy,

Out of curiosity, why aren't you that high on Portillo? Do you live in Venezuela or something and have seen him pitch?

I am aware that the Yanks have dominated international signings in the past (which stretches beyond Latin America, as the Yanks have had good success in Asia), however it seems like in the last two years the field has evened greatly, with the Yanks losing out on guys like Vilanona and Inoa. To me, it just seems like the Yanks could massively outbid every team for the top prospects and it wouldn't even be a challenge. Perhaps they've always done that in the past and these last two years are just aberrations, but with the way they throw their money around, I don't think there is any excuse for the Yankees to not sign 2 of the top 5 Latin American prospects every year (although there is undoubtedly more to signing a player than money)

Richard B. Wade said...

How long after a team signs a foreign-born prospect do they have to wait before they can trade them or is there no such restriction? Just curious.

Dynasty said...

If you are a fan of the Padres organization, you should start getting accustomed to the brand new class of players drafted this year. If you have a facebook account, go become a fan of one of the recent additions, Robert Lara:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Robert-Lara/24622998803#/pages/Robert-Lara/24622998803?ref=mf

Mike said...

Paul,
WOW. I had heard the rumors floating that the Padres were to make a splash today, but couldn't have expected anything like this. Anything negative I may have posted about the Rule 4 draft goes out the window. Very exciting to say the least. Of course, the reality is that even the best of prospects are far from sure things, and these kids are years away, but casting such a large net this year greatly enhances the system and prospects for future signings. Guess the fruits of the facility are already bearing. When do these kids report to the DSL to join Galvez and Liriano?

rich said...

You make back your money if even one of those guys ends up meeting his potential. Good move.

You Know Me! said...

paul,

can you tell me a little about juan oramas? his SO per inning are very impressive. do you see him as a top prospect in the near future?

APX said...

have u considered looking at the Samoan islands for quality baseball players? Athleticism is incredible on those islands...

axion said...

Paul! Heard you on the radio with Coach today, and they haven't posted it on the website yet. Can you get it posted here? Great segment. Thanks!

Paul DePodesta said...

apx,

I don't know that many players have come from the Samoan islands recently, but I'll certainly volunteer for the scouting duty as long as it's a two-week trip. :-)

Paul DePodesta said...

There have been a bunch of questions regarding when/where these kids start playing. The most likely starting place for the Latin American players is in the DSL. Occasionally, some of those players will come over for Instructional League in Peoria like Galvez did last year before returning to the DR for a full summer season. Every player, however, is different. The DR is no different than our other minor league affiliates - when players are ready to move up, we'll move them.

Paul DePodesta said...

rick macdonald,

Thanks for the questions.

I don't think the generalizations about mental makeup are very accurate. Every person is different regardless of their geographic location, so some make the necessary adjustments with greater ease than others. The same goes for kids in the states. After all, we have to consider how an 18 year old from the US will cope with some money, long bus trips, and being away from home for the first time as much as we must consider how a young Latin American player will be able to adjust to life in the US.

Paul DePodesta said...

jcmitchell and mike,

You both make important points. In our minds, the only way to look at this is as a part of the greater overall strategy in acquiring amateur players. We'll get some through the draft and some internationally, and we view them in one collective basket. In some years there will be greater opportunity in the draft, in others it will be internationally. Occasionally, they may be opportunity in both arenas, in which case we'll do our best to be aggressive both domestically and internationally.

Mike said...

Paul,
Still fired up about the signings and searching the net for more information on our quintet of young talent. Understanding that it isn't always easy (or fair) to place big-league comps on 16-year olds, I was hoping to get a couple best-case projections. Might Portillo resemble a young Freddy Garcia, Kelvim Escobar, or even Felix Hernandez?
And keeping my head in the clouds, might Domoromo develop similarly as countrymen Magglio Ordonez or Richard Hidalgo, or a RH Bobby Abreu, given his stated athleticism?
Do any of these uninformed ramblings appear possible, given your scouting of the group? Thanks again for keeping us in the loop.

Rally Monkey said...

Paul, this is the best baseball blog on the Net. Full stop. What a great service.

I'm intrigued by the signing of the Aussie, Corey Adamson. In your view, is there really a reservoir of untapped talent down there, or is MLB's targetting of Australian signings just a pretext--to put it bluntly--to simply raise the profile of the sport down there and move more MLB merchandise?

And one more thing: I've heard rumors that MLB is planning to start up a winter development league in Australia very soon by sponsoring state teams competing in the annual Claxton Shield tournament. What can you say about that?

You Know Me! said...

paul,

do you view sam carter as a top prospect? hes having a pretty good year.

whats going on with huffman? is he injured?

can you tell me a little about juan oramas? his SO per inning are very impressive. do you see him as a top prospect in the near future?

Peter said...

pdipqI'm not Paul (obviously) but Sam Carter is a 25 year-old in High-A who really isn't dominating (he's doing okay not great): .292/.372/.498. Carter really doesn't walk enough to compare with his teammate and fellow RF, Kellen Kulbacki (.293/.412/.546).

field39 said...

These signings are very good news. Like the man once said "The Future's so bright, I gotta wear shades." As a matter of fact, black out shades would be apropriate for viewing the current team. The international solution won't arrive at the major league level for years. Pray tell, what are suffering fans to do in the mean time? Are we doomed to a repeat of the 70s?

Paul DePodesta said...

Here's an article about Corey Adamson:
http://www.baseball.com.au/default.asp?Page=44959

And, here's one from Venezuela for you Spanish readers on Portillo and Domoromo:
http://www.liderendeportes.com/Noticias/?id=59518&sid=66

In the coming weeks I hope to profile each of our international signs in greater depth, but here's a start.

Dynasty said...

Paul-

How long till we see Robert Lara move up from Rookie Ball to Class A?

I thank you beforehand for your honest opinion.

Steven said...

Paul -

1.) How do you check/verify the ages of these players? A 16 year old throwing 92 mph? I'm sure you checked him thoroughly to make sure his name wasn't really Tony Almonte.

2.) How long do the Padres have the rights to these players? Are they in the system until they reach the bigs and their arbitration clock starts ticking (just as a drafted player)? Or is it slightly different?

3.) When you sign players like this, how is the money give out? Just one big check or installments? Thats a lot of money for a young kid, how do you protect them? I've heard a lot of stories about kidnappings of family members etc. What do the Padres do for their foreign players while they remain abroad?

The Vendahhh said...

How can you be so sure that these kids are 16? Are there improved measure now a days in the Latin countries to prevent the fraudulent ages from the recent past?