The San Diego Padres have been unusually active in the international market this season. They have already spent upwards of $70 million dollars on talent and blew well beyond their allowed spending limit.
With all that money spent, is the team done signing potential young talent? They are presently at the mercy of a 100% tax on every player signed until next July, and with that they really do have to be wise with their future investments.
Now until next June or July there will be players that become eligible for free agency and with that the Padres will surely kick the tires on a few of them. Recently a couple of pitchers became eligible as Cuban left-handed pitcher Cionel Perez and right handed Cuban pitcher Norge Ruiz both became eligible to pursue their major league dreams. The 20-year-old Cionel was quickly scooped up by the Houston Astros for $5.15 million. A pretty penny for an unproven talent, but reports are favorable on the young man.
Norge Ruiz is still available, but will the Padres pursue this 22-year-old? Let’s take a look at this young man and what he brings to the table. The Padres could surely use more pitching as that really seems to be an issue for the team in the near future. Reports indicate that Ruiz is pretty polished and should be able to start in High A-Ball or possibly even Double-A to begin his professional career. He has been described as a bulldog on the mound because he enjoys attacking hitters and is fearless toeing the rubber.
The Padres need pitching but so far Ruiz’s numbers are not that impressive. Take a look for yourself at his career in the Cuban league. He is still very young and could progress with some grooming though. He has a low to mid 90’s sinking fastball that is described as heavy. He also throws a slider, cut-fastball, changeup and a split-finger fastball. The sinker ball pitcher is a ground ball machine and prefers to keep batters off-balance than strike them out.
Looking at his numbers you will plainly see that they are flat-out not impressive at this point. His WHIP in his last season was 1.414 and he allowed over a hit per inning. That was in the Cuban leagues too, so it makes you wonder if he could get major league hitters out consistently. Some scouts indicate he will develop with the proper tutelage and that he just needs to be challenged.
In this video of him throwing you will see that he throws slightly across his body and his delivery and motion are very similar to former Padres pitcher Jake Peavy. Ruiz looks to have similar stuff as Peavy too, as the former Friar was not overpowering with his fastball but did have an excellent arsenal of pitches and a deceptive motion. The young man is a work in progress, but his mental capacities are favorable for him developing in a professional system. He should be a major leaguer at some point in his career, but to what degree is yet to be determined.
The Padres need pitchers in the upper minor league level and Ruiz would be a decent fit in that he is nearly major league ready. The team would have to pay double for his services though and you really have to wonder if the team will feel he is worth that kind of gamble. A.J. Preller is a scouting guru, so the Padres will have all their homework done on this young man. If they feel he can progress through the system relatively shortly they might put in a bid on him. That all remains to be seen at this point.