Usually, a team like the San Diego Padres doesn’t have a farm system worth being all that intrigued by. A team that has made some huge trades over the past few seasons and is investing heavily to win at the major-league level is often devoid of high-level prospects. This is not the case for San Diego, though, as a talented group of youngsters is highlighted by one of the most intriguing prospects in all of sports, Ethan Salas.
The Padres have five prospects in MLB Pipeline's top 100, including two in the top 10. One of them is them is Salas, the no. 5 overall prospect and the top one for San Diego who is being promoted to the Double-A level in historic fashion. The Padres used $5.6 million of their $5.8 million international signing bonus pool to land him in January and he has been better than advertised.
One of the things that makes Salas so intriguing is the fact that he just turned 17 years old this past June. The Padres prospect became the youngest player ever in the High-A level and now is set to be the first 17-year-old to be promoted to Double-A since Michael De León, who was a part of the Texas Rangers organization and rose to the Double-A ranks in 2014.
Salas has experience playing against professionals in the Venezuelan winter league. He will be heading to the San Diego Missions along with notable prospects Graham Pauley, Jakob Marsee and Nathan Martorella, joining the Padres' no. 2 prospects, Jackson Merrill, though he could get the call to the big leagues soon.
Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller said that getting the young players in competitive situations is crucial, according to Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Tribune.
“Our group feels he’s up to the challenge,” Preller said, via the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We think there’s a benefit of playing against advanced competition and catching advanced pitchers and this is a group that will have chance to play together down the stretch and into the Double-A playoffs…It’s aggressive but it will serve [Salas] well down the road.”
Salas has received massive praise for his arm behind the plate, fielding and hitting. In 57 games at the Single-A level, he has tallied 58 hits, including 12 doubles and nine home runs, and a slash line of .257/.335/.447. Although Garry Sanchez has been hitting well for the Padres at the catcher spot, the future of the position in San Diego belongs to Ethan Salas.