Despite a quiet off-season, the San Diego Padres continue to make a splash on the international market.
A.J. Preller comes with a pedigree of evaluating talent and signing players from the Latin market, and he has certainly exercised his ability to do so as the Padres’ general manager since the market first opened on July 2.
In recent days, the team has finalized a deal with Cuban right-handed pitcher Michael Baez. He was signed to a three million dollar deal and will probably report to the Single-A level after the team assess his ability during the spring.
The six-foot-eight inch pitcher has great size and a fastball that reaches the mid to upper 90s. He also has a decent feel for his off-speed pitches and could be a viable option eventually for the team. At 20 years of age, he has some experience, though he wasn’t ranked on any of the lists for top international products.
It is a bit surprising that he didn’t make these lists seeing his size and arsenal, but in reality, every prospect cannot make these “prestigious” lists. Kudos to the San Diego Padres, A.J. Preller, Chris Kemp, and the rest of the staff who recognized his abilities and found him.
Talents like Baez will only help improve this farm system and solidify the future of this Padres’ franchise. Three million dollars is a lot of money for the Padres to invest in a pitcher who is no given to succeed, but it is a numbers game and the more talent the team acquires and stock-piles, the better chance they have for a Championship run. Take a look at these videos of Baez and you will see the ability he flashes that easily got the Padres attention and made them roll the dice on his right arm. This first video was taken during batting practice as he was throwing a simulated game of sorts to young Cuban hitters.
The Padres enjoy his easy motion and repeatable delivery. He throws from a consistent plane and has shown decent control in his limited time on the mound. The only real stats he amassed were from 2014 when he was 18 years old. He pitched in the Cuban National Series for the Vegueros de Pinar del Rio and the Huracanes de Mayabequez. During his 16-game span there, he recorded a 1-1 record with a 5.22 ERA in 29 innings pitched. He walked 17 and struck out 17 in that time.
He was really young then so those numbers must be taken with a grain of salt. That was two years ago, and for the most part, he hasn’t accumulated any recorded stats since. Perhaps that is what scared some teams off and why he failed to make any of the top international prospect lists. In this next video taken in April this year against Cuban hitters, you see his consistent motion and velocity. His size doesn’t seem overwhelming but the angle of this video isn’t the best. We make due with what we have.
In this last video, Baez throws against the San Diego Padres (Alianza team) in the JDB baseball league. He once again shows some real quality stuff. Included in this video is a functional changeup that could develop into a decent third pitch. It remains to be seen if he will pitch in the rotation or out of the pen. All that will probably depend on how that changeup develops, as he will need a third above-average pitch to progress through the Padres’ system as a starter.
The San Diego Padres are slowing stockpiling young pitchers. Baez will easily be one to keep an eye on. Adding him to the Single-A level that includes so many young pitchers is insane. I know some fans are still slow to comprehend what is taking place, but this Padres’ franchise is going to be really special in a few years.
The San Diego Padres have now spent close to $70 million dollars in this final spending spree, before the international market changes rules next period. A.J. Preller sure took advantage of this closing market as the Padres are investing big time in the future. In a couple of seasons, all these young players will be knocking on the door of major league service time, and that will be an exciting time for Padres fans.