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Padres get look at Latin signees

Padres get look at Latin signees

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres, growing younger by the day with the influx of players from the Minor Leagues, looked even more youthful Saturday as three of the highly regarded Latin American players they signed in July were at PETCO Park.

The three 16-year-olds -- shortstop Alvaro Aristy, outfielder Luis Domoromo and right-handed pitcher Adys Portillo -- worked out with some of the Padres coaching staff three hours before the start of San Diego's game against Colorado.

Portillo and Domoromo (Venezuela) and Aristy (Dominican Republic) were part of an international signing class that included five players who signed with the team for just over $5 million on July 2, the first day of the international signing day.

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The Padres spent $2 million alone on Portillo, who was considered to be the second-best pitcher in the pool of available players behind 16-year-old Michael Inoa, who signed for a record $4.25 million bonus with the Oakland A's.

The Padres, who are making a concerted effort to upgrade their push for talent in Latin America, cut the ribbon on an $8.5 million training facility in the Dominican Republic nearly five months ago, a facility that most consider among the best in Latin America.

On Saturday, Portillo, Aristy and Domoromo worked out before an empty stadium but under the watchful eyes of CEO Sandy Alderson;, the director of international scouting, Randy Smith; the Padres coordinator of Latin American scouting, Felix Feliz; and San Diego manager Bud Black.

"They all have, from what I saw, for 16, good skills, athleticism, good energy to their actions," said Black, who threw batting practice to Domoromo and Aristy. "You are looking at the raw ability.

"They would fit right in with the top high school juniors you're looking at now [in the United States]. They would stand out on a high school team."

Smith said the players took physicals on Friday and watched the game from one of the suites at PETCO Park. Aristy's parents made the trip from the Dominican Republic, but Domoromo and Portillo's parents had visa issues and didn't make the trip.

Smith, who was instrumental in signing all three players, said these players will report to instructional league in mid-September at the Padres Spring Training facility in Arizona. There's a reasonable expectation, Smith said, that all three could begin their professional careers back in Peoria next June with San Diego's entry in the Arizona League.

"We signed these guys on July 2, but realistically it's a full year before they play in a game that shows up on the back of a bubble gum card because of the age and where they're going to start," Smith said.

The Padres also signed Australian outfielder Corey Adamson and pitcher Elvin Tavarez of the Dominican Republic in July. But the Padres weren't finished.

The Padres added to their Latin American haul on Saturday, when they signed another 16-year-old, third baseman Yferi Pena of the Dominican Republic. Pena is 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, and, according to Smith, "a really strong kid with power potential. He can run pretty well, too."

Pena was among the players the Padres looked at before July 2 but didn't sign at the time. His asking price dropped in subsequent weeks, and the Padres were surprised when his representation informed the team he wanted to sign with them.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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