Padres Sign Five Top International Prospects

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.

–Albert Einstein

I’m no Einstein, but I certainly think of the future. So, apparently, do the Padres. As threatened, they have proven to be major players in this year’s international market.

In our recent discussion with Sandy Alderson, he indicated that the Padres hoped to “sign some players that we think are a cut above what we’ve been able to sign in previous years,” and that’s precisely what they’ve done.

On July 2, the Padres, who have been criticized in the past for not investing as heavily in amateur talent as they might, shelled out $5 million on five players: RHP Adis Portillo, SS Alvaro Aristy, OF Luis Domoromo, INF/OF Corey Adamson, and RHP Elvin Tavarez. Baseball America‘s Ben Badler and the Padres’ own Paul DePodesta offer their thoughts on the quintet.

Adamson hails from Australia, while the other four all ranked among the top 10 Latino prospects of 2008 according to an article penned by ESPN’s Enrique Rojas last month. Bearing in mind that these kids are 16 years old and a long way from the big leagues, this is a pretty nice haul, especially for a franchise that typically hasn’t been at (or anywhere near) the forefront of the international market.

Whether this young talent turns into anything of value down the line remains to be seen. Still, the club appears to be making an honest effort. Hey, it’s a start…

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57 Responses »

  1. I guess now we’ll see if Hundley can play at the big-league level, eh?

  2. #1@Phantom: Possibly a Khalil Greene bat at catcher. Not going to help with our OBP problems, but an upgrade over the Zombie Barrett the Cubs shipped us. Poor Barrett. What’s next, tripping over the baseline and blowing out an ACL? The guy’s had nothing but bad luck.

  3. I’m in a sense glad that Barrett got knocked like that – don’t get me wrong I don’t wish harm on anyone and hope he recovers. But I’m glad to get him out of the lineup and get the chance to observe another of our ‘young gun’ prospects in Hundley. Let’s face it, Barrett was a disaster his entire time with the Padres even though I agree entirely with the decision to acquire him last year. he needed to go and now he’s gone for a bit.

    Nick Hundley, prospect #2, come on down.

  4. #2@Tom Waits: Going along with the KG analogy, does this also mean he’s a good fielder?

  5. So does the last 2 performances from Wolf and Maddux kill both of their trade values to the point where it would no longer be worth it to move them before the end of the month?

  6. #5@Steve C: I really doubt that one performace is going to kill their trade value, especially since their last starts came in Colorado.

    That being said, clubs could have concerns over their prospects for staying healthy / performing at a high level later in the season. If a club is concerned about that, then their last starts might raise a red flag. But if both guys turn in a really good start next time out or two good starts in a row, concerns over how they did in Colorado will be minimized.

  7. Last night I wrote:

    With human psychology what it is, it is easy to get enamored with what is new; with what is fresh (i.e. my own infatuation with Jaff Decker). Because of this phenomenon it is easy to overlook some of the more advanced prospects and dismiss their potential (or at least underrate that potential compared to that of the new player). Will Venable and Nick Hundley are each over-looked, underrated prospects. Will is currently hitting .315/.376/.468 with a lot of doubles (16) and a few home runs (5). Nick is hitting .227/.282/.441 with 13 doubles and 12 home runs.

    Will has been playing CF for the Beavers and we do not hear as many questions about his defense as we used to… He is a terrific athlete and was a two-time team MVP in basketball while in college. Venable could be a viable option next year.

    Nick on the other hand is likely a back-up catcher at the big league level (his lack of contact-ability prevents him from being a starter). But he does have good power and is solid defensively. It will probably be at least another year before we see Nick at the big league level on a regular basis.

  8. Steve (#5), be SHOCKED if Maddux is traded…

  9. #4@Phantom: Hundley has a pretty good defensive reputation, yes. Strong throwing arm, but BA has consistently said his blocking and receiving skills need work.

    #5@Steve C: Not killed (especially not Maddux), but drained a fair bit of it.

  10. So GY was/is in Ashland. That’s one of my favorite towns. Well, what I could see of it from The Black Sheep.

  11. #8@Peter Friberg: Not me. The Padres traded Scott Linebrink last year in the midst of a pennant race.

    I wouldn’t even be shocked to see him traded within the NL West. But more likely destinations would seem to be Chicago or Atlanta.

  12. #6@BigWorm: both of them have had terrible back to back starts its not really just one bad start each.

    I wonder if the Pads would be able to swing a Pie for Maddux deal

    or trade Wolf to the Rays for a guy like Fernando Perez.

  13. #11@Tom Waits: He was also traded for a good haul after a string of bad outings.

  14. #12@Steve C: I dont really see the point in acquiring Pie, he may be solid defensively, but he isnt much of a hitter. I also like what I have seen from Jody Gerut.

  15. #14@SDSUBaseball: Pie is only 23 and put up good numbers (for his age) in the minors and was at one point the cubs #1 prospect, it might be worth giving up a guy like Maddux who won’t be around next year, let Pie finish out the year in Portland and see if he can compete for one of the three OF spots next year.

  16. #15@Steve C: Agree. We’re going to be hard-pressed to get an ideal fit for 3 months of a league-average pitcher. I doubt we could even get Pie for him, but that’s a solid return.

  17. #16@Tom Waits: The reason why I think Pie works is because the Cubs need pitching, and have kind of given up on Pie, but I agree I dont think the pads would be able to get much else of value for 3 months of Maddux.

  18. If not pie for maddux personally I’m very high on Eric Patterson as a CF

  19. #18@Loren: I think it may take more than Maddux to get Patterson…

  20. 19@Steve
    Do you rank Patterson higher then Pie? Given the Cubs unwillingness to trade Pie (and even more unwillingness to use him) I’d assume Pie ranks above PAtterson

  21. Despite their recent struggles, Maddux and Wolf have both been solid overall this season, but I’m starting to wonder if any team would give up anything more than a fringe prospect for either of them.

    Not that they wouldn’t help the back-end of most rotations, but I believe Maddux is still owed $5 million-plus and Wolf close to $4 million. If the Padres paid a significant amount of the remaining salary, maybe the level of prospect would increase.

    I think they are currently in a situation where they’d have to trade with a team who is willing to assume the remaining salary and expect very little in return.

    So, the smart thing to do is wait it out another 28 days and hope that these guys start pitching better and increase their value and trade with a team desperate for starting pitching.

    Bud Black is probably freaking out at this point. Two rookie catchers to choose from. This is probably the only way we’d ever see a rookie catcher in the everyday lineup. Give Black no other choice. I’m anxious to see Hundley. His power and 40% rate of throwing out base runners is intriguing.

  22. Hundley with 2 doubles in a low-scoring game last night …

    … Portland wins 2-1 in 10 … good pitching by Ramos, Hayhurts, Thatcher, and Moreno.

  23. #10@Tom Waits: Yep, still here. We are seeing “Comedy of Errors” tonight, which seems somehow appropriate…

  24. #24@Geoff Young: It’s been so long since I’ve been to Ashland, the last time I was there the Rogue brewpub was still in business.

    The Padre season is rapidly approaching the bloodiness of Titus Andronicus.

  25. 24, 25: Yay! A literary allusion!

    Pie is a guy who I’ve liked for a while. I’d even be willing to do a Khalil Greene/Maddux for Pie and Ronny Cedeno.

  26. So, Pie is having a down year this year. He’s pouted and has reportedly been sent back to Rookie league in AZ for pouting about his demotion to AAA. However, in ’07 as a 22 year old in AAA he hit 362/410/563.
    If we acquired him I’d move him into CF ASAP and let him play out the year there and see what we’ve got. This is still an uber-talented player.

  27. 24: Enjoy the Shakespeare Geoff. Ashland is a place that I’ve always wanted to visit for the Shakespeare festival. My wife works for the Globe here in San Diego, so we’ll be seeing Romeo and Juliet and Merry Wives of Windsor in the coming weeks.

  28. #28@Paul
    Your wife works for the Globe here? I’ve been a Shakespeare festival season ticket holder for three years there. Love their work and am going to see Romeo and Juliet on the 12th.

    And back to baseball :-p I’m cool with pie my only concern is still whether his hitting in AAA was faulty/good luck. He has not hit a lick in his time up in the majors.

  29. 29: Pie put up a +900 OPS in AA at 20 as well. It’s not luck. You’re right though, something could be wrong with his approach. I tend to blame the Cubs for his failings thus far; he’s been jerked around a bit and not really given a chance as an everyday player.

  30. Speaking of Barrett, I was trying to think of another player who has had such a drastic decline in their career. From age 27-29, Barrett had OPS+ of 108, 110, and 121. Last year he was at 68 and this year he’s even worse at 58.

    Off the top of my head, the only play I could immediately think of was Roberto Alomar — OPS+ of 139, 114, 150 from 1999-2001, was traded to the Mets and then had 89, 80 and 81. However, Alomar was 34 that first season with the Mets, although that might be comparable to a 30 year old catcher I guess.

  31. They are sending Clay Hensley down for Rodriguez, according to Black on the radio.

  32. #31@Schlom: There are a lot of them. Dale Murphy, Knoblauch, Rico Petrocelli, Ron Bloomberg, Tommy Davis, Bobby Tolan etc. Sometimes it is due to injuries, other players just deteriorate at an early age.

  33. #35@parlo: Some of those were 32+ plus. Barrett shouldn’t have declined so much at his age. Richards and Giles were 30 and 29.

  34. Storm are giving away tix to July 5th & 6th games …

  35. #37@LynchMob: And then July 7th is “Nothing Night” … which, amongst many things, means “no tickets” … ie. just show up and sit where you want/can …

    I don’t see a link for it on their web site … but here’s how it was described in an email newsletter I got …

    Nothing Night
    Have you ever wondered what it was like back in the day? When baseball was at it’s purest. Where there was no music, no concessions, no tickets, just baseball. Well if you’ve ever felt that way, the Storm is giving you that opportunity. On July 7, 2008 the Storm will hold Nothing Night. There will be no tickets, no seating, no concessions, no music, no promos, just baseball. So bring your own food, sit wherever you like, no worry about tickets just come out and enjoy baseball at it’s finest with the Lake Elsinore Storm.

  36. Marcus Giles and Richards are good picks but I their declines weren’t quite as drastic. Gene Richards’ could have been but he didn’t get a chance to get really bad. Looking at his games played makes me wonder if there were injury problems with him — basically full seasons in 1980 and 1981, and then 132, 95 and 87 games.

  37. #35@parlo: Most of those players had as drastic of a decline as Barrett. He basically went from a top 5 catcher in all of baseball in 2006 to one of (if not) the worst catchers in baseball. Tolan might be the closest to him but at least he was a league average hitter for the Padres in 1974.

    I wonder if fouling a ball of his own face was Barrett’s last at-bat in the majors? I can’t imagine that he’s going to play again for the Padres and I doubt that any other team would take a chance on him. Why would they, he can’t hit or throw.

  38. 40: Barrett will continue to get at least spring training invites for quite a while. I’m pretty sure that we’ll see him in the majors again.

  39. #36@Kevin: Agreed, but since Schlom used Alomar at 34, I saw no harm in providing different age declines prior to age 34.

  40. #41@Paul R: He’s not the worst hitting catcher in baseball this season as he’s ahead of Jose Molina, Mike Rabelo, Bard, Towles, and Ausmus. However, except for Bard, he’s much worse defensively then those others. Not sure there’s going to be too much interest in a catcher that can’t hit and throws out 12% of opposing base stealers.

  41. #40@Schlom: I meant to say none of those players had as drastic a decline as Barrett, not most. I have 3 day weekend on the brain!

  42. #40@Schlom: Joe Foy, Todd Hundley, Bernard Gilkey, Nomar etc. It’s sad in a way. These were not one year wonders, these were players who had very good years and the future seemed bright. Bill James touches on this subject in his HOF book.

  43. #42@parlo: True. I just don’t see anything unexpected about Alomar, Murphy, etc. Not sure if that was a criteria or not.

  44. #44@Schlom: I agree, but Barret did not have as a high of peak either. I bet a little bit of research would show plenty of catchers with Barrets numbers and potential who fell by the wayside.

  45. Kevin Maas and Matt Nokes are interesting comparisons

  46. #48@parlo: Nokes isn’t bad. Mass was a half-season sensation. Never much of a player.

  47. #25@Tom Waits: We hit the Standing Stone brewpub this afternoon. Excellent Oatmeal Stout and Almond Nut Brown Ale.

    #28@Paul R: Thanks, will do. We try to get up here every summer, but we’ve missed the last couple.

    #38@LynchMob: I went to Nothing Night last year. It’s really… weird — one of those things that probably makes for a better concept than actual event…