The San Diego Padres continued their massive investment in international talent today, signing Cuban left-hander Osvaldo Hernandez to a $2,500,000 bonus according to the San Diego Union Tribune. The Padres have now spent almost $80,000,000 on international bonuses in the 2016-2017 signing period, smashing their bonus limit and setting them up for penalties in the upcoming two signing windows.
According to Ben Badler at Baseball America, Hernandez is a 6-0, 175 pound southpaw with an 89-94 MPH fastball. He has a full arsenal to work with including a slider, curveball, and change-up. His secondary pitches are considered very polished for his age.
Badler reports that Hernandez’s fastball occasionally dips into the mid-80s, but it seems plausible he can hold his peak velocities more readily as he matures physically, even if the peak velocities themselves don’t bump up much. Given his size, large increases of velocity don’t seem particularly likely, but his ability to change speeds and keep hitters off-stride helps his entire game play up.
Only 18 years old, Hernandez has a good track record of success in Cuba, posting a 0.92 ERA in 69 innings for Artemisa in the 2016 Cuban 18U circuit with an 84/23 K/BB ratio.
At age 18 he will likely be assigned to rookie ball to begin his career in the United States, but he could be promoted quickly if his feel for pitching is as advanced as advertised.