A few days ago Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote an article about the international spending by each major league team. Like free-agency, and the Rule 4 Amateur draft, the signing of international amateurs is a vital component to talent acquisition. Similar to the Rule 4 amateur draft, the signing of international free-agents is a cheap avenue to explore when adding talent to an organization.

Young players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Columbia, Nicaragua and other baseball hotbeds cover the landscape of each MLB affiliate as well as the 40 man rosters of MLB teams. How many of these international free agents are on the Padres roster right now? Everth Cabrera was signed in 2004 (Nicaragua – Rockies), Alexi Amarista signed in 2007 (Venezuela – Angels), as well as the recently acquired Joaquin Benoit (Dominican Republic – Rangers) and Alex Torres (Venezuela – Angels) signed in 1996 and 2005 respectively.

But not every organization invests equally in places such as the Dominican Republic. However, if done correctly these signings can be game-changing.

The article came to my attention via David Marver. He and I had a discussion that began with snark but ultimately became rewarding as it pushed me to delve a little deeper into the murkiness that surrounds the signing of international amateur baseball players.

What I discovered is that looking at a rank list of spending estimates does not paint a very accurate picture when it comes to international amateurs. How are the Padres doing in this area of talent procurement? Let’s see . . .

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In 2008, the San Diego Padres signed 16-year-old right-handed pitcher Adys Portillo out of Venezuela. The $2 million bonus baby was one of the top international prospects available on July 2, sporting an elite fastball and body you could dream on (6-3, 195). There were questions about his secondary stuff but, holy shit, a 16-year-old who can shove it at 95? Yes, please. It was a big investment (at the time, it was the biggest bonus ever given to a Venezuelan amateur), but ultimately one then-GM Kevin Towers felt worthy.

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This is a list of the best prospects in the Padres’ organization.  To be eligible for this list a player must still possess their rookie status.  Prospects are ranked both by their ultimate potential and the likelihood that they will reach that potential.  The easiest way to understand the rankings is to consider what order players would be selected in if the entire organization were eligible for a draft.  Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) for each prospect is when they would reach the majors if they were able to reach their potential.

Two new wrinkles to the rankings:

  • Prospects have been split into tiers to help get a better idea of the talent gap between players (i.e. the difference between position 1 and 2 may not be the same as the difference between position 14 and 15)
  • Risk Factors have been included to help show the largest road block faced in each player’s development

Tier 1 Read More…