Over the last year, the Friars have locked up players from six different countries – refraining from a foray into the Australian market they have tapped the previous three seasons.
While the Padres have often targeted more arms than position players, the signing of three high-profile position players required some extra finances to be thrown into the mix. The bats, generally, take a little more out of pocket to sign.
"We got the go ahead from Sandy (Alderson) and Kevin (Towers) to go above and beyond the budget," Randy Smith, the Padres' director of international scouting, said. "We felt there were a couple of players worthy of that. Sandy and Kevin gave us a pretty healthy increase."
While third baseman Edinson Rincon signed a little over a month ago and is now playing in the DSL, he headlines a group that includes five positions players and two pitchers. Rincon, incidentally, won't turn 17 until the season is over, and he is hitting .323 with six doubles and a homer in his first 17 games.
Specific to the July 2 signing date, infielder Jhonaton Spraut was a primary focus for the club and the negotiations lasted through the day before they were able to cast their net around the talented 16-year-old. The deal was officially inked around midnight on July 3.
At 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, Spraut has the prototypical build the Padres covet and a bat that could be special.
"There was some stiff competition for him," Smith acknowledged. "We were very aggressive on (signing Spraut) and obviously felt good with the results."
Ryner Liriano, an outfielder who turned 16 on June 20, was the other big fish – that's because he is already 6-foot-2, 190-pounds.
"The three guys we really, really wanted, we got them," said Smith. "Rincon a month ago, Spraut and Liriano. It was a real shot in the arm for our program."
The team also signed outfielders Jose Gonzalez - a corner outfielder out of the Dominican – and Mariekson Gregorius out of Curacao.
Venezuelan right-hander Freddie Cabrera, 17, and Mexican righty Mauricio Tabachnik rounded out the group of signings. Both pitchers currently sit in the mid-80s with plenty of room for growth.
Cabrera and Gregorius were eligible to sign last season on July 2 but were passed up for various reasons – "sometimes physical maturity of bonus demands," Smith noted.
All of the players will debut in the DSL and the maturity of each will dictate when they are ready for a stateside debut.
We will have more on the new prospects with detailed reports on each signing in the coming days.
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