Cuban pitcher Osvaldo Hernandez agrees with Padres

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Cuban left-hander Osvaldo Hernandez has agreed to a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres with a $2.5 million signing bonus.

The 18-year-old had a 0.92 ERA in 68 2/3 innings in Cuba's under-18 league last year, striking out 84 and walking 23. At the U-18 Pan American championship last Oxtober, he allowed three runs and five hits over 9 2/3 innings in two appearances against the U.S.

He's a 5-foot-10 left-hander, but it's really good delivery, good arm action. He's a strike-thrower. His velocity kept increasing from when we've seen him over the last five or six months,'' Padres general manager A.J. Preller said. ''We do see him as a starting pitching option. When he's able to come to the States and come into the country and pitch, he'd be a guy that we'd be looking to move through the system and see where he stacks up.''

Preller said he hopes Hernandez can start pitching in the minors by early June. His signing bonus is payable upon approval of the contract by the commissioner's office.

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