Padres promote 17-year-old Ethan Salas to next level

Catcher jumps to High-A in his 1st professional season

While most 17-year-olds are getting ready to start their senior year of high school, Ethan Salas is getting ready for the Senior Circuit. That's a term sometimes used to describe the National League, and this kid is steamrolling toward it.

Salas made his pro debut with Low-A Lake Elsinore at the age of 16, the first player born in 2006 to play pro baseball in America. It took him fewer than 50 games to jump a level.

The Padres moved Salas — who celebrated his 17th birthday on June 1 — up to High-A Fort Wayne, making him the youngest player in the Midwest League by a mile and the youngest player in TinCaps history. The Friars are known for pushing their top prospects, but even by their standards this is a bit of a surprise.

Or, maybe it's not. Salas is a different animal. He was given more than $5 million as a signing bonus as an international free agent, the biggest bonus of the 2023 class. If he stays on this track that price will be a bargain.

With the Storm the left-handed hitting catcher had an .837 OPS with nine home runs in just 48 games. In an early season interview with NBC 7 SportsWrap, Salas drew rave reviews from manager Pete Zamora for the way he handles a pitching staff and fit into a professional situation immediately.

It did not take long for Salas to make an impact with the TinCaps. On Wednesday — his first Midwest League appearance — he went 1-for-5 with his first High-A hit:

Salas will finish the season with the TinCaps, and it's not hard to dream on the potential of this kid. He could very well earn an invitation to Major League Spring Training next February and perhaps progress all the way to Petco Park by 2025 at the ripe old age of 19. If that happens, he will be the first 19-year-old to start an MLB game since Ivan Rodriguez in 1991. Pudge ended up in Cooperstown.

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