Padres land 6 of Top 30 international prospects

July 2nd, 2016

The Padres are blowing past their bonus pools, stocking their Minor League system with a large group of international prospects the organization hopes will be in the Major Leagues one day.

According to industry sources, the Padres agreed to a $4 million deal with shortstop Luis Almanzar, ranked No. 3 on's International Top 30 Prospects list , along with shortstop Gabriel Arias, ranked No. 5, for $1.9 million; outfielder Jeisson Rosario, ranked No. 9, for $1.85 million; shortstop Jordy Barley, ranked No. 15, for $1 million; shortstop Justin Lopez, ranked No. 27, for $1.2 million and Mexican outfielder Tirso Ornelas, ranked No. 28, for $1.5 million.

Complete list of all Top 30 international prospect signings

"I think it really just shows the commitment from our ownership," Padres general manager A.J. Preller said. "To build a championship program and a championship organization, it starts with having championship-level players, talented players -- and a lot of them."

The club has also agreed to an $830,000 deal with catcher Alison Quintero, along with right-handed pitchers Michel Miliano for $450,000 and Jose Manuel Guzman for $400,000. The club agreed with infielder Tucupita Marcano for $320,000.

There are two more players from Mexico with deals: Right-handed pitcher Martin Carrasco for $115,000 and center fielder Augustin Ruiz for $80,000. Add right-handed pitcher Luis Patinio from Colombia for $130,000, and it's quite a haul for San Diego.

The Padres might not be finished. The Padres have also been linked to left-handed pitcher Adrian Morejon and outfielder Jorge Luis Ona from Cuba, both of whom have yet to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball.

"There continues to be speculation in the media about other players," Preller said. "The biggest thing for us in the Cuban market and with other July 2 players for us is that July 2 is the start of a period. There's going to be plenty of players here in the next year that we're going to have interest in, and we're going to hopefully be in play for."  

Added Chris Kemp, the Padres' director of international scouting: "We will definitely be beating in the bushes in every country possible."

As for Almanzar and Arias, they are considered among the top overall infielders in this year's class, and Rosario is considered by some to be the best teenager outfielder from the Dominican Republic this year. 

Kemp raved about Almanzar's smooth swing and the potential for his bat.

"A lot of people say hitters are born," Kemp said. "He seems to be one of those natural hitters. Every time you watch Luis Almanzar, he finds the barrel."

As for Arias, Kemp called him "one of the most polished defenders I've ever seen at the 15-16 year-old-level," and "a very complete, physical shortstop."

Barley has been clocked at 6.4 seconds in the 60-yard dash several times and glides around the infield on defense. Lopez turns heads with his defensive prowess. He has excellent body control and has a knack for making the game look easy.

In Almanzar, Arias, Barley and Lopez, four of the Padres' top five signings from Saturday were shortstops. Preller says that's largely the result of the Padres going after the best overall athletes - who typically man the position. Chances are, a couple of those players will be moved away from short as they approach the Majors. But it's worth noting that the Friars also went very heavy on position players - after selecting pitchers with 10 of their first 12 picks in last month's Draft.

"We felt like the strength of the Draft was pitcher," Preller said. "And I think this year in Latin America … It really came back to looking at the position guys. I think, as it worked out, It'll be a nice complement when we get these guys in the system."

In accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool with four slot values based on the team's record in 2015 for the international signing period, which started Saturday. San Diego's overall pool total for this year's signing period is $3,347,600, which means the signings -- worth about $14 million so far, and expected to grow -- will thrust them into the maximum penalty.

"It's an unbelievable investment they made in a commitment to our future here," said Padres manager Andy Green before Saturday night's game against the Yankees. "And I think years down the road when those guys are a part of what's going on here, everybody is going to be thrilled about it."

Teams that exceed the pools by 0-5 percent have to pay a 100 percent tax. Teams that exceed the pools by 5-10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period, and they have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Teams that exceed the pools by 10-15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period, and they have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.

The Padres are in the most severe penalty for exceeding their pool by 15 percent or more and will not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods. They must pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.

A year ago, the Padres contemplated signing Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada, who ended up with the Red Sox. That deal alone would've put the Padres into the penalty this year, and they wouldn't have been able to make the splash that they made Saturday.