The 2021-22 international signing period is currently scheduled to open on July 2. However, it may be pushed back to January 15, 2022, because of many factors, including the pandemic and challenges between MLB and MiLB.
On the latest big board of international prospects over at Baseball America (subscription required), the San Diego Padres are expected to add talent to their already-impressive ranks. The club has been linked to two names on the top 25 – Jarlin Susana, a right-hander out of the Dominican Republic ranked 17th, and a utilityman who could move between multiple spots, 25th ranked infielder/outfielder Yendry Rojas out of Cuba.
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Susana is only 16 years old — turning 17 this year — and is considered one of the premier arms in the class. Per this report, Susana could land the largest bonus of the class. Because of the pandemic, scouting in person was off-limits until this past fall.
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Susana came prepared, however, as his fastball had jumped to 96 mph, with a lot in between 94-95 MPH. He had been clocked in the mid-’80s as a 14-year-old, which is impressive in its own right. Increasing his arm strength to this level shows how disciplined he became, something the Padres will undoubtedly value.
The lanky right-hander has a smooth, almost effortless drive towards the mound. The film looks at first glance that he’s setting up to play a leisurely game of catch before rocket firing. Per his scouting report, his breaking ball appears to be a biting slider, a pitch of which he has created swings and misses.
Rojas, meanwhile, has some strong Javier Báez vibes. The difference is that Rojas is a left-handed hitter. If you watch his approach, it’s very similar. Rojas has been shown to drive the ball to all parts of the field with power and is considered one of the stronger hitters of this class. As he continues to develop, speed and base-running will be critical to that development.
There is also a difference in opinion as to where scouts will see his defensive spot. Some think he will stick as an infielder — at second or third base — while a part of the population believes he will serve better as a corner outfielder. Rojas has the bat, and, as his defense is a question mark, the Padres will undoubtedly find a spot if the results match the talent. He is another big kid who should only become stronger as he gets older.
A.J. Preller has found a semblance of success in terms of some of his past international signings. Current Cleveland reliever Emmanuel Clase, for example, is one of those signings who came in on a tiny $125,000. Adrian Morejon is another. Padres fans should be excited to see what is in store for their club in the coming months.
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Most of their former prospects have already graduated to the big leagues. The Padres are still a top ten farm system in baseball, and more young international talent will only help it improve.