The Padres are generally considered one of the most active teams on the international market, and the club is living up to its reputation once again.
According to sources, the Padres have a $2.2 million deal with outfielder Ismael Mena, ranked No. 15 on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 International Prospects list; a $700,000 deal with pitcher Brayan Medina, ranked No. 19; a $1.3 million deal with shortstop Reginald Preciado, ranked No. 22; and a pact with left-handed pitcher Luis Gutierrez, who ranks No. 29 and will be eligible to sign when he turns 16 on July 31.
The team announced the contracts for the first three of those players on Tuesday night, though the club did not confirm the bonus numbers or the Gutierrez deal.
"As of right now, we're ecstatic," Padres international scouting director Chris Kemp said. "With the guys we've signed today, and the guys we have a chance to sign soon, we're really happy. We feel like we were able to reload the farm system."
Mena is an above-average defender who has a talent for reading and picking up balls off the bat. He gets good jumps and takes great angles and routes using his plus-plus speed. He also has an arm with above-average potential.
Mena covers the strike zone well and hits the ball hard, projecting to bat second or third in the lineup, but he could eventually be the leadoff hitter because of his hit tool and plus running abilities. Mena projects to steal between 15 and 25 bases in the big leagues.
"He's a really good athlete, and he projects to have a lot of plus tools," Kemp said. "He's got a smooth left-handed swing, too. We feel he's going to be a real prospect for us."
Medina, the top pitcher out of Venezuela and arguably one of the best prospects in the class, has the prototypical pitcher’s build -- long and lean -- and he’s strong and athletic with room to grow. He’s aggressive on the mound, and he has a good feel for his pitches and how to attack hitters.
Medina's best pitch is his fastball, sitting at 93-97 mph with good sink and movement, along with excellent command. He also throws a changeup and slider.
"He's got the frame to be a real workhorse-type pitcher," Kemp said. "He throws hard, and has a real athletic delivery and could really make an impact."
The best prospect out of Panama in this year’s class, Preciado is a lean and athletic shortstop with a large frame and a projectable body. He has tools that can make an impact on both sides of the ball with tons of upside.
On defense, Preciado is smooth defender and light on his feet. He has shown a quick first step and a strong and accurate arm that projects to be above average in the future. He has soft hands.
At the plate, Preciado drives the ball with hard contact from the right side and sprays the ball from gap to gap from the left. He also has a good rhythm and body control from both sides of the plate and the ability to barrel up balls.
As for Gutierrez, he has an advanced feel for pitching and average command of three pitches -- a fastball, curveball and changeup. His fastball sits at 87-90 mph, while his 12-to-6 curveball, which flashes plus, could develop into an out pitch as he continues to refine his skills. The changeup sits in the lower 80s and has good cutting action.
The Padres are also linked to athletic outfielder Jose Cordero from the Dominican Republic for a bonus of $625,000, and they are also expected to add shortstop Adrian Perez of the D.R.
According to the rules established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, clubs like the Padres that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the Rule 4 Draft have the most money with a pool of $6,481,200 for international prospects, while clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Rule 4 Draft receive the second most at $5,939,800.
Teams are allowed to trade as much of their international pool money as they like, but they can only acquire 60% of their initial pool amount. Additionally, signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward a club's bonus pool, and foreign professional players who are at least 25 years of age and have played in a foreign league for at least six seasons are also exempt.
Under the previous system, teams were penalized for exceeding their bonus pools with consequences that ranged from taxes on their spending to the maximum penalty, which was being prohibited from signing any prospect for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods. That’s no longer the case and there are no longer penalties. Teams can only spend their allotted bonus pools and the monies acquired via trade.