In 1973’s Magnum Force, Clint Eastwood uttered this memorable line as inspector Harry Callahan:

Man’s got to know his limitations.

I don’t think Cameron Maybin is familiar with this quote. Or maybe he is familiar with the film but he doesn’t believe the sentiment on account of his supreme athleticism. I tend to lean towards the latter.

Cameron Maybin probably doesn’t believe in limitations of any sort as it pertains to his feats on the baseball diamond. Oh, I know he said that he would limit his reckless abandon when he spoke to Darren Smith last week but did anyone honestly believe him? It’s very difficult to just turn things off when you are endowed with amazing abilities and possess a determination to shine. Cameron Maybin wants to shine, wants to be the guy in San Diego. Unfortunately Cameron Maybin doesn’t know his limitations and he now finds himself sidelined for the next few months with a ruptured left biceps tendon.

I witnessed the injury first hand during the split squad game at Camelback Ranch against the Dodgers on Sunday. Four things immediately flashed through my mind when the ball flew off Juan Uribe‘s bat:

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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 early December Baseball America’s Matt Eddy revealed his 2014 Padres Prospect list. Earlier this week Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus published his version of the top 10 in the Padres system. The lists were nearly identical with the exception of Keyvius Sampson (Baseball America) and the recently acquired Alex Dickerson (Baseball Prospectus) both listed as the org’s 9th rated prospect.

To no one’s surprise, super-dynamo-defensive-demigod Austin Hedges topped each of the prospect lists for the industry leaders. The Padres system has taken a step backwards as players graduated to the big club (Jedd Gyorko, Robbie Erlin), suffered injury (Casey Kelly, Rymer Liriano), or quite simply lost their prospect luster (Adys Portillo, Corey Spangenberg). But through it all, Austin Hedges has survived atop the heap, expected to contribute to the Padres’ efforts sooner than later.

In mid-December I asked both Matt Eddy and Jason Parks the following hypothetical question:

What would the Padres system look like if Austin Hedges did not exist? How many slots would it drop the Padres system relative to other systems?

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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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