SAN DIEGO -- The Padres selected the contracts of seven Minor League players Friday, placing them on the 40-man roster so they won't be exposed during next month's Rule 5 Draft.
The Padres added right-handed pitchers Simon Castro, Brandon Gomes, Jeremy Hefner and Evan Scribner, outfielder Cedric Hunter, catcher Luis Martinez and infielder Jeudy Valdez.
As expected, the Padres protected two of the most prized pitchers in the organization in Castro and Hefner, who both could open the 2011 season pitching for Triple-A Tucson.
Castro, 22, was 7-6 with a 2.92 ERA and had 107 strikeouts in 129 2/3 innings over 24 games (23 starts) for Double-A San Antonio last season. He made two starts with Triple-A Portland as well.
Castro was rated the second-best prospect in the Padres Minor League system prior to the start of the 2010 season by Baseball America and was selected to pitch in the 2010 Futures Game for the World team.
Hefner, 24, was 11-8 with a 2.95 ERA in 28 starts for San Antonio. He was selected in the 10th round of the 2007 Draft by the Padres.
Gomes, 26, had a breakout season with San Antonio, going 7-2 with a 1.87 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings. Gomes was a 17th round selection in the 2007 Draft.
Scribner, 25, was 4-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 57 games for San Antonio. He was originally acquired by the Padres on July 17, 2008 from Arizona in exchange for infielder Tony Clark.
Hunter, 22, hit .287 with seven home runs, 64 RBIs and 14 stolen bases and 47 walks in 136 games between San Antonio and Triple-A Portland in 2010. Hunter originally signed with the Padres as a third-round selection in 2006.
Martinez, 25, hit .282 with two home runs and 31 RBIs in 106 games for San Antonio. He was originally a 12th round selection in the 2007.
Valdez, 21, hit .247 with 10 home runs and 76 RBIs and 34 stolen bases in 132 games for Class A Fort Wayne in 2010. Valdez signed with the Padres as a non-drafted free agent in 2005.
The Padres now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.