Adys Portillo remains the Padres' top international signing by dollar amount, having received a $2 million bonus in 2008 as a 16-year-old. Now barely 18, the Venezuelan right-hander's first pitch during a live batting practice session was 95 mph, and he sat 91-93 through Thursday's Cactus League outing. He threw a few curveballs at 76-78 mph with some depth; it's a below-average pitch now, but it looks like he has the wrist action to eventually produce an average or better breaking ball. Portillo's arm works well, with a short arm action and a delivery he repeats well, and he has an outstanding frame and good size for his age. He's not advanced, but he has a live arm without the wildness a lot of teenaged pitching prospects exhibit.
Third baseman Edinson Rincon finished 13th in the Northwest League in OPS in 2009 at age 18; every player who finished ahead of him was at least 21. His ultimate position isn't likely to be third base -- more likely left field or first base -- but he can hit. He has extremely strong hands and takes a hard swing, making loud contact with good backspin throughout the BP session I saw. And he has great rotation in his swing to generate power as he fills out a little more. Most guys, even relatively serious players, go into BP just to take their hacks, but Rincon looked like he wanted to take someone's head off. I mean that in a good way.
Quick notes on three other Padres farmhands I saw: Jeudy Valdez struggled badly in Fort Wayne last year, but the ball comes off his bat very well due to his strong wrists and forearms, and I wouldn't write him off despite his lack of pro success through age 20. ... Right-hander Rafeal Arias was 86-89 mph with a pretty quick arm but an awkward delivery. ... Shortstop Jonathan Galvez has a quick bat with some leverage in his swing but glides onto his front foot, reducing his power potential. He showed excellent plate discipline as an 18-year-old in the Arizona Rookie League last year.
• After the morning in Peoria, I dropped into Camelback Ranch in Glendale for the last six innings of the Cleveland-White Sox game. Alex White, Cleveland's first-round pick in 2009, was 90-92 mph with a good split, but his slurvy breaking ball remains below average. Chris Perez, whom Cleveland obtained from St. Louis in the Mark DeRosa trade, was 88-92 with a hard-breaking slider but had poor command of both pitches. Lonnie Chisenhall had a tough at-bat before exiting the game in the shift change, although the fact that he's even appearing in big league games tells you how much the Cleveland front office believes in him.
• For Chicago, J.J. Putz was 91-93 mph early in his inning but then hit 94 four times on the final batter he faced, throwing a handful of sliders in the 85-87 range while mixing in a split and a few hard curves in the low 80s. I could see him drop his arm slot slightly on the breaking balls and get his hand around the side of the pitch, but the velocity was encouraging, and he did get good tilt and late break on the slider. At worst, he's a usable seventh/eigth-inning guy if he stays healthy.