All at once, the Padres are as keen on hot-shot amateur catchers as the Duke brothers were keen on frozen-juice contracts. "The Strategic Thinkers are cornering the market!" Last month, the Padres invested the 54th and 82nd picks of the draft in two prep catchers -- switch-hitter Brett Austin and catch-and-throw wizard Austin Hedges -- with the expectation that each would cost a seven-figure sum. Now the Padres have signed catcher Jose Ruiz, 16, from Venezuela for $1.1 million. Ruiz may be six years away from the big leagues, so his signing probably will not not affect pending negotiations with Austin and Hedges. "Ruiz is absolutely a pure catcher," Randy Smith, Padres V-P for International Operations, told this blog. "Easily the best defensive catcher in this year's international class and the best that I can recall in recent years."