Rymer Liriano is moving up to the big leagues.
The 23-year-old Dominican baseball player has been called up by the San Diego Padres in the first major move by new general manager A.J. Preller.
The move to bring on the top prospect had been in the works within the Padres organization in the weeks before Preller was hired last week.
Liriano hit .452 (28-for-62) with 16 extra-base hits and 13 RBIs in 16 games with Triple-A El Paso.
He started in right field and batted seventh in the Padres’ 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies on Monday night. He went 0-for-2 with a sacrifice fly that scored a run and was hit by a pitch.
Liriano is the first player from San Diego’s Dominican Republic academy, which opened in 2008, to be called up by the Padres.
“I feel proud to be the first guy,” Liriano said through translator Jose Valentin, the first-base coach. “I want to thank the Padres to do that academy to try to help not only me but more Dominican players, and hopefully I will be an example for those guys.”
He originally signed as a non-drafted free agent at age 16.
“It’s something to be proud of for this organization,” Preller said. “It’s hard to sign a player at any spot and see him develop and get to the big leagues. When you can do that in signing a 16-, 17-, 18-year-old player and bring him to an academy setting, that’s something our international staff can feel good about, from a scouting standpoint, development standpoint. And when you can bring him up through your farm system, all the coaches that had a chance to work with him and be around him all those years, this gives them a lot of positive reinforcement about what they’re doing.”
Preller, who scouted Latin America extensively while with the Texas Rangers, said he didn’t know Liriano personally but had watched him when the Rangers and Padres farmhands played spring training games.
The new GM said the Padres needed an outfielder and a right-handed bat. He consulted with others in the front office and manager Bud Black, and they all thought Liriano was ready.
“He’s a talented individual,” Preller said. “He can impact the game in different ways. He can impact with the bat and power, with his legs and his arms. That’s intriguing talent.”
Liriano missed the 2013 season while recovering from reconstructive surgery on his right elbow.
“I just missed one year. That injury made me work even harder to come back and play again,” he said. “All the work paid off. I don’t want to go back down. I want to stay up for a long time.”
Liriano started the season with Double-A San Antonio and hit .264 with 14 home runs and 53 RBIs in 99 games.
“This year was a big year as far as his maturity and development as a player,” Black said. “Last year was such a bummer for him that he had to undergo the Tommy John surgery and missed pretty much a full year. But this year he came back with a great deal of conviction. I think a year away from the game put a lot of perspective for him. He went to San Antonio and performed pretty consistently. … He is very talented. He plays the game hard. There might be a mistake or two in there, like a lot of young players, but he plays with a lot of passion.”