Padres promote 17-year-old top prospect Ethan Salas to Double-A

Padres promote 17-year-old top prospect Ethan Salas to Double-A

San Diego Padres top prospect Ethan Salas’ rapid rise through the farm system is continuing in earnest.

The Padres are promoting the 17-year-old catcher, currently in his first professional season, to Double-A San Antonio, president of baseball operations A.J. Preller confirmed to Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune on Sunday.

Salas earned the promotion barely two weeks after moving up to Class High-A, playing only nine games there.

“Our group feels he’s up to the challenge,” Pellers told Sanders. “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 was born in Kissimmee, Florida, but grew up in Venezuela, where he became the top prospect available in the most recent January international signing period. He received a $5.6-million bonus upon signing with the Padres. Some scouts have called him the best all-around catching prospect in years.

After a few Cactus League cameos in March, Salas made his minor-league debut in Single-A on May 30, two days before turning 17. In 57 games split between Single-A Lake Elsinore and High-A Fort Wayne, he hit .257/.335/.447 with nine homers, 38 RBIs, and five stolen bases. Defensively, he allowed 10 passed balls while catching eight of 39 would-be base-stealers.

When he gets into a game with the San Antonio Missions, Salas will become the first 17-year-old to appear in Double-A since former Rangers prospect Michael De Leon in 2014, according to Theo DeRosa of MLB.com.

Although catching has been a weakness for the Padres this season, it’s doubtful Salas’ quick rise will bring him to Petco Park before he turns 18. The most recent 17-year-old to appear in a big-league game was Jay Dahl of the Houston Colt .45s on Sept. 27, 1963, per Stathead. No one has made it to the majors before their 19th birthday since Alex Rodriguez debuted at 18 years, 346 days old in 1994, and there hasn’t been an 18-year-old catcher since the Blue Jays’ Brian Milner in 1978.

For now, Salas will try to help San Antonio win its first league championship since 2013 in next month’s Texas League playoffs. The Missions clinched a postseason berth by earning the first-half division title.

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