Since the international market opened up, the San Diego Padres have been hard at work bringing in the cream of the crop.
Today, they brought in 18-year-old Cuban lefty, Osvaldo Hernandez, on a $2.5 million contract.
Hernandez became an MLB free agent last month, and drew interest from a good number of solid clubs.
The Padres had been in the mix for Hernandez since before his free agency was announced, but it was rumored they could be outbid by a wealthier club.
Earlier this month Editor-In-Chief of East Village Times wrote about the possibility of Hernandez joining the squad, and today it became official.
The southpaw stands at 6 feet and 175 pounds, and has an advanced approach despite his young age. His fastball has been known to top off at 94 mph, but he also has the ability to drop down into a range of 76-79 with his curveball.
His curveball comes in with a tight spin and good depth, showing potential to be deadly as he develops. Hernandez also has been able to mix some sliders and changeups that also show promise to be well above average as he develops. He has a pretty decent ceiling.
In a story from the El Nuevo Herald, he tells us about his passion for the sport and how excited he is to begin his professional career. Here is a link to that piece (which is in Spanish). One of the keys to signing this prized young lefty was the Padres’ system that is currently flooded with young talent. He points out the fact that the Padres’ system has plenty of young Cuban ball players. That will make the transition to pro ball and, most importantly, the United States, easier for him.
That is not a coincidence as the team has changed philosophies completely. They went from a team that mostly ignored the international market, to the biggest spenders this period. They are not done either. A.J. Preller, Chris Kemp, and the Padres’ front office will surely be on the prowl for more talent.
While in Cuba, Hernandez pitched in his country’s 18U national league during 2016. In 68.2 innings he posted a 0.92 ERA. No, you didn’t read that wrong. In almost 70 innings this 18-year-old kid posted a 0.92 ERA with 84 strikeouts to only 23 walks. Hernandez also put up some impressive numbers during the COPABE 18U Pan American Championship tournament in Mexico, where he faced the U.S on two separate occasions. In his first outing, he started and allowed only two hits and one run over 5.1 innings. He also racked up five K’s and walked three against a lineup filled with some top American prospects.
Padres agree to sign Cuban pitcher Osvaldo Hernandez for $2.5 million: https://t.co/MPTt55LJiW
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) March 13, 2017
Hernandez has also shown some ability to come in as a reliever. During his second match against the U.S., Osvaldo Hernandez came in and threw 4.1 innings of relief where he allowed two runs on just three hits and only one walk. He wasn’t able to work in any strikeouts, but this was before he was able to develop his fastball into the 90s.
Hernandez will join a number of young Cuban prospects signed by the Padres this season. Jorge Ona, Michel Baez, Adrain Morejon, Ronaldo Bolanos, and Ramon Perez will all be in the club house with Hernandez helping him feel at home. That cannot be stated enough. The Padres team has truly gone international and the winning will come in time.
Since the international market has opened, the Padres have dedicated a monstrous $80 million-plus to reboot the farm.
Padres have now committed close to $80 million on international amateur signings since July 2, between bonuses and tax money.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) March 13, 2017
The anticipation has only begun as these young kids suit up for training camps and begin to work their way through the Padres’ system.
Sources: #Padres reach agreement with Cuban Osvaldo Hernandez for $2.5M. Competitive LHP — up to 94MPH, per source.
— Mickey Koke (@mickeykoke) March 13, 2017
Osvaldo Hernandez is yet another name to add to the list of talent the Padres are stockpiling. All will not succeed, but if you bring in enough talent you are virtually guaranteed a successful run. It is coming, Padres’ fans. Be patient.