Padres restock system with draft, international talent

Wen-Hua Sung first amateur signed by Padres from Asia

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Although it might take five years for the results to fully come into focus, the Padres have apparently strengthened their farm system - and ultimately the product on the field at Petco Park - during this year's Draft plus the opening days of the international signing period.

A quick review: 

Draft -- The Padres had three of the top 25 and six of the first 85 picks. All have signed. Their top two picks - right-handed pitcher Cal Quantrill (No. 8) and infielder Hudson Potts (No. 24) have already launched their professional careers. In fact Potts, 17, is hitting .326 with five steals in nine games for the Arizona Rookie Padres.

International - Blending the predictions of the two agencies that monitor the international market - Baseball America and mlb.com - the Padres have signed two of the top five, three of the top 10 and six of the top 35 players available from Latin America (including Mexico) in addition to signing right-handed pitcher Wen-Hua Sung from Taiwan.

And the Padres - notably general manager A.J. Preller and international scouting director Chris Kemp -- aren't done. As Preller said Sunday, working the international market is a year-round commitment.

The crop harvested this spring had been nurtured for a year.

"A lot of factors lined up," said Preller. "Our scouting group did a good job getting to know the players. We got to know them in and out. When you look at it, we thought this was the time to strike. And we're position to sign more as the year goes along.

"In the international market, you have to be ready to see and sign players throughout the year."

By my count, the Padres have already added roughly 45 players from the draft, the international market and the signing of undrafted free agents. And there's quality over quantity - six of the top 85 available in the draft and six of the top 35 available on the international scene. That's pumping talent into the system.

"We're starting to feel the excitement from the player development staff," said Green of the lower-level coaches and teachers getting their first looks at the young players in Arizona and the Dominican Republic. "We're looking forward."

So can Padres fans.

The rewards won't be reaped overnight. And, honestly, some of this talent will never develop while others will fall alongside due to injuries. It happens . . . to everyone.

But the fact is the Padres have made a huge - and interesting - commitment to the futures.

Preller says it is just a coincidence, but the club went heavy for pitching in the draft and for bats in the international before adding Sung, who is pitching for a college team in Taiwan seven years after homering against Chula Vista Park View in the Little League World Series. Sung pitched the game that got Taiwan into the championship game.

"He's a little more advanced in his development than the international signings," said Preller. "He'll come over next year and see his first action. He throws 90-94 and throws strikes."

"Good baseball being played throughout the world. We'll be aggressive, we'll be active."

The Padres certainly have been this year.

NOTES FROM THE SCOREBOOK

  • Third baseman Yangervis Solarte was 4-for-4 Sunday with his fifth homer, missing the second cycle in Padres history by a triple. It was the fourth, four-hit game of Solarte's career. He is hitting .422 (19-for-45) over his last 13 games since June 18 with four doubles, a home run, six RBIs and nine runs scored to raise his batting average from .245 to .301 (it jumped 20 points Sunday). Solarte has hit safely in eight of his last nine games, going 15-33.
  • Sadly, in light of Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Yankees we must review some strangely connected and shocking numbers. The Padres are now 3-24 in the final games of series. They are 6-21 in day games (including 2-9 in day games at Petco Park). And they are 1-12 on Sundays.
  • Conversely, the Padres are 32-23 in the games before series finales; 29-26 in night games, and 34-35 on the first six days of the week (including 19-7 on Fridays and Saturdays). I am clueless as to what any of this really means.
  • Andrew Cashner made just his fifth start Sunday since May 8 in his return from his second stint on the 15-day disabled list. Both Cashner's trips to the disabled list had nothing to do with his right arm. He was out from May 9-24 with a hamstring strain suffered May 8 while running the bases. His second trip to the disabled list started June 11 due to a neck sprain. Cashner allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks in six innings Sunday.