Ethan Salas of the San Diego Padres stands on the field during the Spring Training Game against the Chicago White Sox at Peoria Stadium on March 11, 2023 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
The San Diego Padres have promoted 17-year-old catcher Ethan Salas to Double-A San Antonio.
Salas is the No. 1 ranked international prospect in MLB and the No. 1 ranked prospect in the San Diego Padres organization according to MLB.Com. Salas was promoted to High-A Fort Wayne on August 9.
Salas, an American-born Venezuelan catcher, was signed by the San Diego Padres this January for a record $5.6 million international signing bonus. Salas and the No. 22 ranked prospect in the San Diego Padres organization, 17-year-old J.D. Gonzalez, are the youngest players in the Padres’ top 30 prospect rankings by MLB.com/Pipeline.
“Our group feels he’s up to the challenge,” Padres President of Baseball Operations A.J. Preller told 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 a chance to play together down the stretch and into the Double-A playoffs.”
Salas began the 2023 season with Single-A Lake Elsinore, batting .267 in 48 games. Additionally, the catcher had nine home runs, 35 RBI, and a .837 OPS.
In nine games with High-A Fort Wayne, Salas hit .200 with a .472 OPS in 37 plate appearances. Although Salas struggled with High-A Fort Wayne, the Padres’ front office has shown they are confident in his ability to strive against tougher competition.
Salas made his Spring Training debut with the San Diego Padres this past March as a 16-year-old. After the Padres defeated the Chicago White Sox 6-5, Salas appeared confident and poised in front of the camera. “Age is just a number,” Salas told reporters. “I’ve been prepared for this. It’s just another normal game for me.”
Salas joins a rising number of young players being promoted to different levels of minor league baseball at a fast pace. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Holliday was promoted to Double-A Bowie by the Baltimore Orioles after playing 71 games with Single-A Delmarva. Like Salas, Holliday is the No. 1 ranked prospect in his respective organization.
Paul Skenes, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 Major League Baseball Draft, was reportedly promoted Monday to Double-A Altoona by the Pittsburgh Pirates after pitching in just one game in the Florida Complex League and two games in Single-A Bradenton.
Salas and the San Antonio Missions will begin a six-game series at home against the Amarillo Sod Poodles (28-17), the Double-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, on Tuesday, August 22. San Antonio (21-24) is in fifth place in the Texas League’s South Division, seven games bhind first place Amarillo.
The San Diego Padres (59-66) will begin a three-game set with the Miami Marlins (64-61) on Monday, August 21 at 9:40 p.m. EDT. The Padres are currently in fourth place in the National League West and are six games back of the Chicago Cubs for the third NL Wild Card spot. The series will take place at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.