More than two months ago, I brought you a story on Cuban outfielder, Luis Robert.
Even though the Padres have spent over $70 million dollars on the international market, they are surely not done. Last week, the team inked a Cuban left-handed pitcher named Osvaldo Fernandez for $2.5 million dollars. He is 18 and adds to the Padres young depth.
Right now it is a great time to be a Padres fan. The team has stockpiled talent and it is only a matter of time before success comes.
Luis Robert is widely considered the best available player on the market.
His showcase is today and the Padres will be in attendance, along with probably most every team in the league.
He left Cuba late last year and is establishing residency at the moment, but he should be cleared fairly soon. It appears he will be granted free agency before the June 15th deadline of this signing period.
That is huge, because if Robert signs this period, he will not be under the restraints of the new system which limits teams drastically. If he and his representation want top dollar, now is the time for him to get it.
Reports indicate he could get close to what the Padres gave Adrian Morejon on the open market. The talented left-handed pitcher, also from Cuba, received $11 million dollars from the Friars, which was by far the most the team has ever given an international player. The Padres are subject to paying a 100 percent tax for any player signed from here through the end of this period, so they might have a tough time outbidding another team for the outfielders’ service.
He has a pretty good glove in left field. Check out this video and see for yourself. There are reports he could possibly play center field in the majors, but for the time being, he is being viewed as a corner outfielder.
The Padres are currently building a top-notch farm system and the young Luis Robert would be a prized addition. He has great bat speed, excellent athleticism, and his power is starting to progress as he fills out his 6’2″ frame. Last season in the Serie Nacional, before defecting, Robert put up a slash line of .401/.526/.687 with 12 homers and 11 stolen bases in 232 plate appearances. He was leading the league in OPS at the time of his departure, and at the age of 19, he looks to be really rounding into form.
Scouts have been eyeing Robert since he was playing for the Cuban under-16 team. As far as Cuban baseball players go, he is arguably the best prospect available. He dominated in the 18u and 16u leagues throughout the years, and as a 16-year-old in 2014, Robert played in the COPABE 18U Pan American Championship. In that tournament, he tied Jorge Ona for the most home runs (4) by any player in the tournament. He has always played well against higher competition, and he should progress through a major league system rather quickly.
The Padres are probably going to be a player in the Luis Robert sweepstakes. He will be a costly addition though, and with the 100 percent tax, the team would have to go above and beyond to sign him. A.J. Preller has a special skill when it comes to evaluating talent. Or at least that is what Padres’ fans are banking on, as the team looks to build a sense of credibility in a league that has surpassed them as far as success in cultivating talent.
In this next video of Robert you will see that his power is legit. The man has great size and you have to think that he will fill out even more. You even get a glimpse of his speed on the base paths in this clip. He will not be a 30-stolen-base guy in the majors, but he does have excellent speed for a man of his stature. His skill is there, and given his age, he should easily become a major leaguer one day.
The 2017 Padres will be a young team that will grow during the season. How much growth takes place in the season will dictate exactly how far this team goes. Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, and Austin Hedges give the team a great young core to build around offensively. Luis Robert is a couple of years away from being major league-ready. The team does not need to add him to their young roster, but at this point, the Padres are all in as far as collecting international talent. They will have no problem spending more money if they believe in the young man.
The international market has certainly helped shape the future of the Padres. The franchise is going from a team that neglected the area continuously, to a team that has embraced it as a key to the future. A.J. Preller is slowly shaping the Padres’ franchise for the future and the addition of Luis Robert could be significant. Do not be surprised if the Padres are one of the more aggressive teams approaching Robert, despite their financial restrictions in the market. Preller is going to Prell.