A look at most of the men signed by the San Diego Padres during the 2016-17 international signing period and what they are doing now.
During the 2016 international signing period (July 2, 2016-July 1, 2017), between signing bonuses and tax penalties, the San Diego Padres spent around $80 million to upgrade their minor league system. The team brought in around 50 teenagers to develop within their minor league system.
At the time, the Padres broke all records when it came to spending on the market, and rules needed to be changed after this signing period. Teams are no longer allowed to spend like the Padres did that year. A.J. Preller and his staff ignored all penalties for signing talent and moved forward in securing the farm system.
When you look over the list below, most players never even made it to the major leagues. Most are still in the minors, while a few are out of the game completely. That is just the nature of selecting teenage talent. You really never know who will be able to make it to the highest level of professional baseball.
It is still up in the air to determine which prospect was the best of the bunch. Most of these men are in their early 20s and have an entire career ahead of them.
Adrian Morejon was signed for the most money and, thus far, has had arguably the best career, though injuries have sidelined him continuously.
Jorge Ona and Michel Baez were released from the system this winter, though both debuted with the Padres and played at the major league level. Luis Almanzar never made it past Single-A baseball and retired from the game in March of 22 at the age of 21. Which was a huge surprise.
Luis Patino was signed for $130,000 as a shortstop and is now a viable major-league pitcher. There is so much uncertainty with these young players.
Let’s take a closer look at the relevant players signed during that period in 2016.
Adrian Morejon– (Cuba) $11,000,000
Morejon debuted with the Padres in 2019 at the age of 20. The lefty made it to the majors before MacKenzie Gore, and it looked as though he was destined to be a star. The reality is Morejon has only made nine starts for the team in five years. The southpaw has continually battled injuries in his brief career. Last season, Morejon blew out his elbow in April and underwent Tommy John surgery. He may be serviceable at some point in 2024, but will likely begin the season slowly and on rehab in the minors. Morejon will be 25 next season, but it is too early to consider this selection as a bust. The Padres still have three years of service time with Morejon before he hits free agency in 2027.
Jorge Ona– (Cuba) $7,000,000
Ona owns a .983 career OPS at the major league level but was released this winter by the Padres. His OPS is a mirage as it came in 12 at-bats during the Covid-shortened season of 2020. Since then, Ona was injured in 2021 and unproductive for the last two seasons at the Double-A level. The right-handed hitter put up a .692 OPS last season in San Antonio, and the 26-year-old only played sporadically. Ona may surface with another organization, but he will likely never have the career the Padres envisioned when they signed him in 2016.
Michel Baez– (Cuba) $3,000,000
This tall, right-handed pitcher debuted in 2019 with success and looked like he would be a key piece for the future. Baez recorded a 3.03 ERA in 24 games and 29.2 innings pitched that season but blew out his arm in 2021 and required Tommy John surgery. Control issues continue to plague this pitcher, and the Padres finally gave up this winter as they gave Baez his release. The native of Cube will surely sign on with another team and could still be useful as a middle reliever when it is all said and done.
Luis Almanzar– (Dominican Republic) $3,000,000
Drafted as a shortstop, Almanzar was viewed as a can’t-miss prospect in terms of making it to the majors. Sadly, that never happened, as the right-handed hitter struggled right away and never made it past the Single-A level with the Padres. Almazar recorded a .595 OPS and a .214 average in 299 games and over 1,000 at-bats in the minors. He retired after the 2021 season and is still only 24 years old. His baseball career is over, and this may be the biggest bust of the entire group of players.
Osvaldo Hernandez– (Cuba) $2,500,000
This left-handed pitcher was released in March of 2023 and did not pitch last season. Hernandez made it to the Double-A level and was once a Padres’ top-30 prospect, but he was never able to advance to the major league level. Hernandez recorded a 3.78 and a 1.313 WHIP in 106 games and 355 minor-league innings. It is safe to say he never lived up to expectations.
Ronald Bolanos– (Cuba) $2,000,000
This right-handed pitcher may be viewed as a success story as he enjoyed four years at the major league level with the Royals. Bolanos was dealt to the Royals with Franchy Cordero for Tim Hill and put up a 4.76 ERA in 13 games and 28.1 innings pitched. He was released by the Royals before the 2023 season and signed with the Miami Marlins. Bolanos struggled with the Marlins at the Triple-A level and was released in August. He is currently a minor league free agent at the age of 27.
Gabriel Arias– (Venezuela) $1,900,000
Arias was dealt to the Guardians in the Mike Clevinger deal and played in 122 games last year for Cleveland. The right-handed hitter put up a .628 OPS in his rookie season and played all over the diamond. Arias played each infield position and also played 19 games in right field. There is still an upside with Arias, who may be the best player on this list when it is all said and done. He has that kind of upside and is already playing a lot at the major league level.
Jeisson Rosario– (Dominican Republic) $1,850,000
The Padres traded Rosario and Hudson Potts to the Red Sox for Mitch Moreland in 2020. The center fielder was a top prospect at the time but never produced for the Red Sox. Boston released him last year, and the Yankees claimed him late in the season. Rosario was released this winter and signed a minor league deal with the A’s. Rosario is showing some power and is still able to draw a walk, so the 23-year-old has an outside chance to advance and potentially debut in the majors in 2024. Only time will tell.
Tirso Ornelas– (Mexico) $1,500,000
It feels like we have been discussing Ornelas forever, but he may actually debut in 2024 for the Padres. The left-handed hitter always showed a beautiful swing but got messed up mechanically, which stunted his growth. In 2023, Ornelas put up a .823 OPS in 127 games between the Double-A and Triple-A levels. The power is progressing, and Ornelas could break out even further next year at the age of 24.
Justin Lopez– (Venezuela) $1.200,000
The San Diego Padres cut their ties with Lopez this winter after he recorded a 4.60 ERA in 37 games for the Missions. The former infielder owns a .642 OPS in 1,472 career at-bats at the minor league level. Lopez made it all the way to High Single-A as a hitter but could never really produce. The Padres turned him into a pitcher last season, and he actually didn’t do too bad. The 23-year-old is a minor league free agent currently and may sign on with a team as a pitcher this spring.
Jordy Barley– (Dominican Republic) $1,000,000
In 2021, the Padres traded Barley to the Nationals for Daniel Hudson. The infielder put up a .668 OPS last season between three stops in the Nationals system. Barley made it all the way to Triple-A, recording a .752 OPS in 23 games. He still has some issues but may eventually play at the major league level.
Alison Quintero– (Venezuela) $830,000
This right-handed hitting catcher made it all the way to Triple-A in 2022 and 2023, playing in a handful of games. The light-hitting catcher elected free agency this winter and is free to sign with anyone this winter. Quintero is a career .194 hitter in a little over 400 at-bats in the minors. His playing career could be over at the age of 23.
Michell Miliano– (Dominican Republic) $450,000
This right-handed pitcher was dealt to the Pirates with Jack Suwinski and Tucupita Marcano for Adam Frazier. Milano struggled with the Pirates and never made it past the Double-A level, as he simply cannot throw strikes consistently. He is currently a minor league free agent.
Jose Manuel Guzman– (Dominican Republic) $400,000
This young pitcher never made it past short-season ball, as he played for the Tri-City Dust Devils in 2018 as an 18-year-old. Guzman last pitched in the minors in 2019 and returned with a career 5.01 ERA in 97 innings pitched.
Carlos Batista– (Dominican Republic) $400,000
This outfielder proved to be useless with the bat as the 6-foot-2 left-handed swinger only recorded two at-bats in the Padres system outside of the DSL. Batista hit .162 in 136 at-bats and has not played organized baseball in the States since 2018.
Tucupita Marcano– (Venezuela) $320,000
Marcano is a diamond in the rough as the left-handed swinger showed usefulness for the Pirates after a trade early in his playing career. The Padres claimed the infielder off waivers from the Pirates in the winter, and he may get an opportunity to earn playing time this season for the Padres.
Carlos Luis– (Dominican Republic) $200,000
This left-handed hitter was still in the system this past year but elected free agency this winter. Luis made it to the Triple-A level in 2023 and could be serviceable in the future. He shows a decent bat with a good eye at the plate and, at 24, may make it to the majors… eventually.
Bryan Torres– (Venezuela) $175,000
This infielder never made it past the Single-A level, retiring with a .227 lifetime average after the 2022 season.
Luis Patino– (Colombia) $130,000
The Padres struck gold with this young pitcher converted from the shortstop position. He debuted at the major league level in 2020 and has pitched for three major league teams. The Padres claimed Patino off waivers this winter, and he has a chance to earn serious playing time in 2024.
Juan Vasquez– (Dominican Republic) $100,000
Vasquez retired after the 2019 season with a .230 lifetime average in 191 career at-bats in the minors. He never made it past the rookie league, ending his career with a .592 OPS overall.
Agustin Ruiz– (Mexico) $80,000
Ruiz elected free agency last winter after six minor league seasons with the Padres. He recorded a .714 OPS and a .233 average in over 2,000 at-bats. In 2023, Ruis played at the Double-A level for the Mets and recorded a .701 OPS in 364 at-bats.
Martin Carrasco– (Mexico) $80,000
Coming out of Tijuana, there were high hopes for this right-handed pitcher. He is currently a minor league free agent after six mediocre years in the minors for the Padres and White Sox. Carrasco is 24 and owns a career 4.00 ERA in 240.2 minor league innings. He is likely looking for work somewhere.
Wen-Hua Sung– (Taiwan) $80,000
In June of 2022, the Padres released this right-handed pitcher. His minor league numbers were not horrific, as he owns a 3.98 ERA in 78 games and 110.2 innings pitched. At 27, his professional career may be over, but you never know- he could surface somewhere.
Ramon Perez– (Cuba) $80,000
In July 2023, Perez was released by the Padres. The left-handed pitcher holds a 4.20 ERA and a 1.470 WHIP in 142 games and 298 innings pitched. Perez made it all the way to Triple-A in 2022 but was injured to start the 2023 season. The Padres ran out of patience waiting for him to develop.
Dulio Ochoa (Mexico) $70,000
Ochoa only made it three seasons for the Padres, recording a 4.37 ERA in 82.1 innings pitched. The right-handed pitcher has spent the last two seasons pitching in the Mexican Leagues and in Independent baseball.
Gabriel Morales (Venezuela) $70,000
Morales was injured and missed the 2023 season. The left-handed pitcher owns a career 3.66 ERA in 90 games and 270.2 innings pitched in the minors. There is still hope he may return to form and produce in 2024. Morales has a big-time arm but is prone to control problems.
Gilberto Vizcarra (Mexico) $70,000
This catcher was released by the Padres before the 2023 season. He played last year in the Mexican Leagues. Vizacrra produced a .247/.327/.346 slash line in 217 games for the Padres making it all the way to the Single-A level.
Moises Lugo (Dominican Republic) $50,000
Lugo pitched in El Paso last season and is very close to major league service time. The right-handed pitcher owns a 3.69 ERA and a 1.283 WHIP 137 games and 319 innings pitched. He began his career as a starter but is considered a reliever at this point in his career.
Adrian Antunez– (Venezuela) $20,000
This left-handed hitting outfielder played two seasons in the DSL and produced a .569 OPS in 334 at-bats. He struck out 132 times in that time and slugged two homers. It is safe to say the Padres got a good look at this young player, who retired from baseball in 2019.
Luis Castro– (Colombia) $10,000
Castro only played one season with the Padres in the DSL League and hit .168 while striking out 47 times in 101 at-bats. He did not have what it takes to play professional baseball, though he was on the Colombian national roster for the 2021 season. He did not play and was hurt.
A handful of other prospects were signed in the period by the Padres, but nobody else produced anything of relevance. All in all, the Padres got mixed results from this group of players. Some are still working hard, and it is difficult to declare their overall value. Only time will tell in that manner.
James was born and raised in America’s Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that’s our motto. Enjoy.