Ethan Salas might be Major League Baseball's next big thing, and we'll soon find out if he's really as good as most scouts think he is. The San Diego Padres have officially promoted the generational catching talent to Single-A Lake Elsinore. It's worth noting, he's only 16.
Salas was the consensus No. 1 international prospect for 2023 and the Padres signed him for $5.6 million in January. He was so advanced he actually played in spring training with the MLB squad. Somehow, he didn't look out of place. He's as polished a 16-year-old prospect as I've ever seen on and off the field.
Salas is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and can really do it all. He has a sweet lefty swing with excellent bat-to-ball skills, a good eye and developing power. Defensively, he's an advanced receiver and gets high marks for his game-calling, communication with pitchers and framing. He has a big arm and can even run a bit.
Salas was born in Florida, but moved to Venezuela at a young age and speaks both English and Spanish fluently. Some of his polish and maturity comes from the fact that his family has deep baseball roots. his dad and uncle both played minor league ball, as did his grandfather. If that wasn't enough, Salas' brother, Jose, was a big-time international prospect back in 2019, when the Miami Marlins signed him for $2.8 million. He's now in the Minnesota Twins organization.
Normally, 16-year-old international prospects start out their careers in the Dominican Summer League or the Arizona Complex League. Salas is essentially skipping two steps to head straight to Low-A ball. He would be a sophomore in high school. It's just crazy to think about.
The young phenom likely would have been in Lake Elsinore sooner, but he'd been dealing with a minor shoulder issue and was playing in extended spring training. Now Salas will get the chance to play against guys years older than him and show what he can do.