This off-season, the Friars signed two pitchers and a catcher – all likely to begin their assimilation into prospect status as members of the Dominican Summer League Padres.
"The first pitcher is pretty interesting," Smith began. "Juan Chavez – 6-foot-2, 180 to 185-pound right-hander. A converted outfielder. He has only been pitching about six months but he has a very good body and very live arm.
"He turned 17 in December. He touched 90 and pretty much sat at 90. That is pretty good velocity for a kid at that age – with some life. He has a feel for a changeup and breaking ball, like most of these guys, has a ways to go. The body and the arm strength and the fact that he was around the zone all pluses. The curveball/slider has the furthest to go.
"I like the fact that we have tried to get bigger, more athletic guys. This is a guy that falls into that category.
"The second guy is another big right-hander – Ramon Sandoval is his name. 6-foot-4 and this guy is raw bones, 160-pounds. He turned 16 in May so he will pitch all next year at 17. He touched 90 and set more at 87-88 but touched 90. He has a very projectible body with lots of room to fill in. He also has a feel for a changeup and his breaking ball was well below average, which is common. His command needs to improve. He is a gangly kid that needs to grow into his body. If you wanted to dream on somebody there is some room to dream here because of his size and lots of room to fill out – maturity adds some weight and the velocity continues to go up. 6-4, 160 and touching 90 at 16 is interesting.
"The catcher has been in our youth program. Jansell Luna. He is a little bit older. He will turn 19 before the start of the DSL. A big, strong kid. 6-foot, 190. Well built. This guy can really throw. Very accurate with a quick release and a plus arm. He has some gap power. It is not a huge investment but the arm and strength of the body – every throw he made in the workout was right on the bag and very quick release."
These three represent just a fraction of the talent coming up through the DSL Padres. This year alone showcased the abilities of Pablo Menchaca, Orlando Lara, Jackson Quezada, Rayner Contreras, Felix Carrasco and Yefri Carvajal, to name a few. What will the next wave hold?