We take a look at the effort from the San Diego Padres to bring in the top talent from nearby Mexico.
Primarily because of Fernando Valenzuela, the Dodgers have always been the preferred team of the Mexican-American community in southern California. But just like they are in the National League West, the San Diego Padres are doing their best to bridge that gap.
And even though the Padres just traded away highly regarded prospect Luis Urias, the Padres still have Mexico natives Andres Munoz and Gerardo Reyes on their 40-man roster to go with No. 11 prospect Tirso Ornelas.
In mid-November, the Padres signed 16-year-old Zayed Salinas to an $800,000 signing bonus. Salinas is the top-rated amateur player in Mexico according to Fangraphs and the No. 27 international player overall. He is a 6-foot-2, 180-pounds left-hander who will be developed as a two-way player.
He was signed out of the Tijuana Toros youth academy, which is right across the border from San Diego. He can play all three outfield positions and has a fastball that sits at 87-90 with a curve and changeup.
Munoz has the makings of a star, as the 20-year-old already was called up in the second half of this past season and didn’t miss a beat. He pitched in 22 games, going 1-1 with 1 save, a 3.91 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 11 walks in 23 innings.
Reyes, 26, was up and down with the Padres, with up and down results as well. He did go 4-0 in the major leagues but had a 7.62 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 11 walks in 26 innings.
Ornelas, 19, is a 6–foot-3, 200-pound outfielder signed from Mexico City Red Devils for a $1.5 million bonus in 2016. It’s the same team that brought Urias and Munoz to the Padres and the team owned by Padres part-owner Alfredo Harp Helú. Ornelas played in Lake Elsinore this past season and batted .220 with one home run and 30 RBI.
Besides Ornales, two other Mexican born players played in the recent Don Welke On Deck Classic that pits Padres prospects against those from the Texas Rangers.
Pitcher Adrian Martinez, who grew up in Mexicali just east of San Diego on the border of the Imperial Valley, started at Fort Wayne this past season and was later promoted to Lake Elsinore.
This past season, the 22-year-old focused on cutting down his walks and was successful, with a 3.5 strikeout to walk ration on the season as a starter.
Omar Cruz, 20, pitched in Fort Wayne this past year. He averaged 12 strikeouts per nine innings with 19 walks in 56 innings pitched in 2019. He was also originally part of the Mexico City Red Devils organization, but the Padres later signed him out of Monterrey.
Another Mexican prospect to watch is Esteban Quiroz. The 27-year-old Mexican national team player came over to the Padres last year in a trade with the Red Sox. He has played professionally since 2011, mostly in the Mexican Professional League. Last season, he played in El Paso, where he slashed .271/.384/.539/.923 with 19 home runs and 66 RBI.