Padres sign Cuban RHP Ronald Bolanos

A.J. Preller

The Padres continued their unprecedented spending spree in the international market by signing Cuban right-handed pitcher Ronald Bolanos.

Bolanos was ranked by MLB.com as the No. 20 International prospect in the 2016 class and ranked by Baseball America as the fourth-best Cuban pitcher available earlier this year in February.

According to the Union Tribune, the addition of Bolanos means  “the Padres have signed eight of MLB.com’s top-30 international prospects.” It also means the organization’s spending on international talent this year is now around $65 million, including overage taxes.

Listed at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Bolanos complements a fastball that ranges from 92 to 96 mph with a slider, curveball and change-up. The former outfielder began pitching full-time in 2014 and played in the COPABE 18-and-under Pan American Championship in 2014, recording 15 strikeouts over nine scoreless innings.

Bolanos subsequently pitched in relief for Mayabeque in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, posting a 4.89 ERA over 37 2/3 innings. Now nearly 20, he projects as at least a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

Bolanos would be the third Cuban prospect added by the Padres since the 2016-17 international signing period opened a month ago. Left-hander Adrian Morejon signed for a club-record $11 million, and outfielder Jorge Ona received $7 million. Like Morejon and Ona, Bolanos would make his professional debut in 2017, possibly with one of the Padres’ Single-A affiliates.

The Padres remain in the mix for a number of still-unsigned Cuban prospects, including third baseman Yanio Perez and right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez.

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