The Preller Effect

As I mentioned in my Rangers top 50 write up, current Padres GM A.J. Preller held a prominent position with the Rangers front office before he left for his current role in San Diego. He first gained recognition as the Rangers Director of Pro and International Scouting. Under his leadership, the Rangers scouted and spent heavily in the international market. As a result, their top prospect lists have always been littered with big bonus latin players. It was, and is, a strategy that has consistently stock piled the Rangers minor league system with a wealth of young talent.

As GM of the Padres, Preller has taken his ‘Spend big in Latin America’ strategy with him to San Diego. The young talent he has acquired for the Padres in this past year is reminiscent of the hauls the Rangers used to pull in during Preller’s prime in Texas. These names are sure to fill up the Padres top prospect lists for years to come.

Here is a look at some of the talent the Padres acquired on the international front this year, with a quick explanation of where I would target the player in a dynasty league draft.

Adrian Morejon, SP

Morejon signed out of Cuba for 11 million this past July. The Padres were already over their allotted bonus amount so they were taxed the entire signing amount. So they effectively paid 22 million for his services. The 17 year old lefthander has impressed since the Padres brought him in. He’s described as a physical lefty without a ton of projection left. But the current package is already turning heads. Reports from spring training have him in the low to mid 90’s with his fastball. He is going relatively early in dynasty drafts, around the same place as top first round picks from last year’s amateur draft. He is not quite as under the radar as some of the other names mentioned below.

Jorge Ona, OF

Ona signed for $7 million in July, like with Morejon, the Padres were taxed heavily as a result. Ona is a 19 year old cuban outfielder with plus bat speed and power. Ona looks the part of an impact bat, however as is the case with cuban prospects, there is definitely an element of the unknown. Ona falls into the category of a ‘not quite elite, but solid and steady’ dynasty league pick. I would consider him in the 20-30 range among newly eligible players.

Luis Almanzar, SS

Almanzar was ranked eighth overall and second among 16 year olds by MLB.com’s rankings of international free agents this past year. The only players they had ranked above Almanzar were much older cuban players and uber-prospect Kevin Maitan. The Padres handed him 4 million dollars to join the organization. He is a potential 5 tool player who is projected to stay up the middle. In addition to the projection, he has a lot of current skills that impress scouts. In dynasty drafts expect Almanzar to be one of the first J2 kids selected. Knowledge of your league mates and their past drafting tendencies should help you get a better read on where these blue chip guys get drafted.

Jeisson Rosario, OF

Rosario impressed those who saw him at the Padres fall instructional league. He signed for 1.85 million out of the Dominican. He is a well rounded athlete who has the tools to stay in centerfield. He’s described as a high ceiling prospect while also having a decent floor because of his athleticism.  I would take a flier on him in the middle rounds of a dynasty draft and hope he develops into a star.

Michel Miliano, SP

This tall right hander was signed for approximately half a million dollars. He is less of a household name than others on this list, but early reports are promising. Currently he throws in the low 90’s, but there is tons of room for projection in his frame. Eric Longenhagen from Fangraphs stated that he thought Miliano would be a first round pick were he eligible for the June draft and might be “the coup” of the July 2 class. He is almost completely unknown at this point, but I would be comfortable drafting him in a dynasty draft after most of the known commodities are off the board, and may jump on him earlier depending on the savvy of the other owners in the league.

Tirso Ornelas, OF/1B

Mexican teenager got 1.5 million in July. His signing came with less fanfare than some of the bigger names in the Padres class. Some have compared Tirso’s swing to Ken Griffey Jr. Those are lofty comparisons, and expectations should be tempered with any 16 year old, but Ornelas is a young player to keep an eye on. Keith Law has already said that he was impressed by Ornelas and that his swing has promise. I’d let him slide in Dynasty drafts, but try and target him in the late rounds.

Gabriel Arias, SS

This Venezuelan shortstop was another big dollar signing this past July. He’s a premium talent who has a chance to develop into a plus hitter with moderate power. His ultimate position is yet to be determined, though some scouts believe he can stick at short, while others for see him sliding over to third. At this point, depending on how deep your league is, Arias might be more of a name to track, as opposed to a name to worry about grabbing this year.

Other names to know….

Jordy Barley SS – Dominican SS who has impressed early this spring.

Alison Quintero C – Catcher received 800,000+ dollar bonus.

Michel Baez RHP, Osvaldo Hernandez LHP, Ramón Perez LHP- Cuban arms the Padres have added in the past few months.

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