Monday, September 5, 2011

"Liri"

For reasons unknown to this blog, the baseball gods decided long ago to jinx your Padres.

How else to explain the Dominican Drought?

All the other baseball clubs went to the Dominican Republic and found ballplayers who grew into big leaguers. Heck, the Garden Snakes hadn't played a major league game when they pulled Jose Valverde out of the D.R. in 1997.

Somehow, the Padres fell from the boat yet always missed the water.

They've gone 0-for-the-D.R.

How does a team sign hundreds of players from the most talent-rich country outside the United States, yet get not one decent season from any of these players?

Must be the jinx.

Someday, the jinx will end, and if the baseball gods have a sense of fair play, the Padres will get big dividends from whoever ends it.

There's no doubting that one of the candidates is a 20-year-old who today is playing right field and batting third for the Padres' affiliate in the Midwest League, the Fort Wayne TinCaps.

His name is Rymer Liriano.

Think Raul Mondesi, says one Padres scout of "Liri."

Liriano, born in Santo Domingo, was 16 years old when the Padres' Randy Smith and Felix Francisco decided he was worth $300,000 and signed him in June 2007.

Smith says now: "He has a chance to do a lot more than end the D.R. jinx. He has a chance to be a real stud."

Smith describes Liriano, who is 6-foot and 211 pounds, as a "five-tool monster who plays as hard as anyone."

Another Padres evaluator says Liriano has the biggest "tool shed" of any Padres prospect.

Liriano so excited the Padres earlier this year that they promoted him to Lake Elsinore, an advance Single-A team, before he was ready. He went 7-for-55 (.127) in the hitter friendly Cal League. Had the Padres kept him in the Midwest League, Liriano might be the talk of all minor league baseball. There's still plenty to like about his performance. He is batting .322 and on-basing .385. He's a stocking stuffer who has 65 stolen bases, 30 doubles, 12 home runs and eight triples in 115 games.

Until a prospect succeeds in Double-A, he has a lot to prove.

It's been a long, long time, however, since the Padres had a prospect like Liriano.




















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