Major League Baseball is currently in a lockout. Minor league baseball, however, can still go about its business and Saturday was a big one in the industry.
January 15 was the start of the International Signing Period, the day when big league clubs can agree to contracts with amateur players from outside the United States and Canada (those players are subject to the annual MLB Draft). The Padres had a little more than $6 million to allocate to international players and early signs are they don't plan on saving any of it.
Early in the day the Friars agreed to deals with three of the top-ranked prospects in this year's class, starting with the consensus best pitcher available in 17-year-old Jarlin Susana. He's a 6'6", 225-pound right-hander from the Dominican Republic who's already touching 97 MPH with his fastball. He also throws a slider, changeup, and curve.
The other two high-profile players joining San Diego's system are 16-year-old infielders Yendry Rojas and Rosman Verdugo, both Top-50 players according to multiple scouting services.
Rojas is a Cuban native now playing in the Dominican Republic. Primarily a shortstop, he has the ability to play multiple positions and shows off some of the best pure power in the class. At a powerful 6'1" and 190 pounds, he can drive the ball out of the park to all fields and is already drawing comparisons to White Sox infielder Yoan Moncada.
Verdugo is hailed as the #1 player in all of Mexico. The Bahia Tortugas, Baja California Sur native is part of the highly touted Diablos Rojos del Mexico Academy. Scouts say he has an advanced feel for the strike zone is one of the best bats available from any country this year.
"I think you're looking at a powerhorse starter in Susana, who's got a chance to be an elite-type of arm, and you look at Verdugo and Rojas, two very polished bats for their age group," says Padres International scouting director Chris Kemp. "We think all three have the chance to be Plus. Plus makeup and Plus talent."
Here's the entire list of 19 signings as of the writing of this piece:
Jarlin Susana, RHP, Dominican Republic
Yendry Rojas, OF/INF, Cuba
Oliver Cedeño, SS, Venezuela
Rosman Verdugo, SS, Mexico
Braian Salazar, LHP, Venezuela
Juan Murillo, SS/OF, Cuba
Maykol Muñoz, 3B/SS, Venezuela
Steven Giron, C, Venezuela
Josmar Acevedo, RHP, Venezuela
Jhosep Chirinos, RHP, Venezuela
Alain Camou, SS, Dominican Republic
Estuar Suero, OF, Dominican Republic
Francis Pena, RHP, Dominican Republic
Wimer Ramirez, LHP, Dominican Republic
Jefren Tejada, LHP, Dominican Republic
Xavier Ruiz, RHP, Dominican Republic
Luis German, RHP, Dominican Republic
Enmanuel Pinales, RHP, Dominican Republic
Eizon Delgado, OF, Cuba
This list has the potential to grow even longer, and very likely will. The signing period doesn't end until December 15 of this year.
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