Padres general manager AJ Preller continues to pad his strong reputation for international scouting. The latest international player signed to the organization is Osvaldo Hernandez, a left-handed pitcher out of Cuba. The Padres agreed to terms on a $2.5 million contract with 18-year-old Hernandez yesterday.
Last month when Hernandez was declared a free agent, Baseball America's Ben Badler described him as such:
At 6 feet, 175 pounds, Hernandez has shown advanced feel for his age for a wide repertoire of pitches, starting with a fastball that’s ranged from 89-94 mph since he has been showcased in the Dominican Republic. He has shown the ability to manipulate multiple breaking pitches. He throws a hard 76-79 mph curveball with tight spin and good depth that has a chance to be plus, along with a slider that gives him a second potentially average or better breaking ball. His changeup is another offspeed pitch that’s advanced for his age and could give him another above-average weapon down the road.
He joins five other Cuban free agents who were signed by the Padres during this current signing period, which opened on July 2nd of last year. His fellow southpaws Adrian Morejon and Ramon Perez got $11 million and $400,000 bonuses, respectively. Outfielder Jorge Ona signed for $7 million. And righties Michael Baez and Ronald Bolanos got $3 million and $2.25 million.
Altogether during this signing period, San Diego has acquired more than 40 players from the international market while spending over $80 million, including penalties (100% tax for every dollar they've spent and might continue to spend over their allotment). This record-breaking amount is well over their international bonus pool allotment of $3.347 million, and more than double the next closest organization. Still, Preller shows no signs of slowing down and we shouldn't be surprised to see more international players making their way into the Padres organization.