Padres' Latino program faces rocky road
At the end of August 2008, the San Diego Padres brought three young players from Latin America to Petco Park for a workout in front of coaches and local media. The players -- pitcher Adys Portillo, shortstop Alvaro Aristy and outfielder Luis Domoromo -- all had signed with the team for expensive bonuses in July, and the workout was to be a showcase, a culminating event to show off the Padres' new commitment in Latin America.
Before their signings, the Padres had been little more than bit players in the Latino market. At the start of spring training in 2008, none of the 64 players in the Padres' big league camp hailed from the Dominican Republic -- an astonishing fact considering that Dominicans comprise about 13 percent of major league players. But after building a new $8 million baseball academy in the Dominican and doling out more than $5 million in bonuses for players from Latin America later that season, the Padres were primed to be players on the international market.