Yesterday was the first day of the 2014-2015 international signing period, which always runs from July 2nd to June 15th of the following year. Clubs are allowed a certain amount of money to spend on amateur talent in the pool of international players each year, and that amount, or bonus pool, depends on the team's record from the previous season. If a team overspends their bonus pool, they are forced to endure penalties, which can range from increased taxes on overages to limits on signing bonuses in following seasons.
I am, by no means, all that knowledgable on this subject and I'm still learning this stuff as I go, so for more detailed information on the workings of the international signing period, check out Craig Goldstein's primer on SB Nation. -->
San Diego signed four international players yesterday. Here's some basic information I gathered (mainly from Ben Badler and Baseball America) on the newest members of the Padres organization, including one very highly-touted prospect.
Venezuelan catcher Ricardo Rodriguez is one of the top catchers on the international market, ranking 30th among international prospects by MLB.com and 21st by Baseball America.
He might not be the fastest runner on the bases, but Rodriguez makes up for the shortcoming with a solid arm and reliable defense. He's also known for his poise, intelligence and baseball IQ.
Rodriguez projects to be an average hitter, but he does everything well -- a big reason scouts believe he should be considered among the top catchers on the prospect market.
From Baseball America's Ben Badler:
Among catchers who project to stick at the position (Miguel Flames of Venezuela is still fairly new to the position), Rodriguez was the best catcher on the market.
Matt Garrioch of SBNation's Minor League Ball also had this to say about Rodriguez in his Intro to the 2014 International Class:
Rodriguez has good footwork and catch and throw skills. He looks to be one of the better defenders in the class. I'm not a fan of the bat but he should hit for some power. He may be a defense first catcher or a backup if he makes it to the big leagues.
More from SB Nation
17-year-old left-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic
He has a projectable 6-foot-4 frame with a loose arm and good, deceptive angle on a fastball up to the low-90s, with feel to spin a breaking ball.
16-year-old righty pitcher from the Dominican Republic
... Beltran’s 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame oozes projection and he’s fairly coordinated given his long, lanky frame. He has touched the low-90s and should be throwing in the mid-90s once he adds some size, with feel to spin a curveball.
16-year old Dominican shortstop with some experience playing in the International Prospect League
He has a quick bat from the right side and is still working to make more consistent contact in games, but he shows ability to use the whole field with gap power.