The Padres signed a Cuban talent today for an $11 million dollar signing bonus, which is far and away the largest bonus the Padres have ever handed out to an international player. The name to remember is Adrian Morejon and he is a 17 year old, 6’1” ~200lb left handed pitcher who dominated international play as a 15 year old.
Adrian Morejon will cost the Padres $22M when all the bonus penalties are handed out due to the MLB 100% tax on anything more than 15% over their allotted bonus pool. He is the first left handed Cuban pitcher to sign with a team since November of 2014 when the much less heralded, and ten years older, Maisel Siverio signed for $275K with the Mariners.
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Had he been in the draft as a 17 year old pitcher, with a fastball that sits in the low 90s and can touch 94 (at 17), a curveball and a pair of changeups, a knuckle change and a traditional changeup, this kid would surely have been a first round pick. The track record for Cuban pitchers is not great though, so temper the optimism just a bit while still smiling that the Padres signed a 17 year old Cuban who can throw 94 with four different pitches, and he’s a lefty!
Dating back to when Aroldis Chapman arrived in the states in 2009 there have been 14 Cuban pitchers signed, eight of which have made it to the major leagues. This does compare favorably to the 2009 draft, in which 40 pitchers were taken in the first round, the first compensation round and the second round of the amateur draft. Of these 40 pitchers 25 have reached the majors while the rest are pretty much out of baseball, which roughly tracks with the record of Cubans reaching the majors, so I would put it at a 60% chance that this kid will reach the majors.
If he does reach the majors there is a strong possibility that he will be a #2 or #3 starter in the big leagues, for which $22M is a paltry sum to pay for a starter of that caliber, you can bet that he is going to have success. If you look at his brief stats in the Cuban National series keep in mind that Baseball Reference lists him as being more than 9 years younger than the average age of the players in that league, and he held his own as a 16 year old in the CNS.
So, at the end of the day the Padres added a young, strong left handed pitcher who has experience pitching against some of the best talent in the world and can touh 94 MPH at 17 years old. AJ Preller once again makes a bold move and looks to shatter the Padres fan’s collective paradigm.